QUESTION & ANSWER WITH LILY AMIS
1. When did you start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
My destiny as a child war refugee in the eighties and my long-term unemployment during my twentiesĖdespite high degrees in web publishing, marketing and public relationsĖmade me become a writer. I wrote my first book (a memoir) in 2004 and self-published it in 2005 in German and English. The writing process was a kind of self-therapy.
I always felt that it was my duty to write about our horrible experiences as war refugees and the obstacles we faced throughout life as foreigners in Europe.
Many people suffer like us but donít have the courage or chance to speak out. In 2014 I re-published my memoir with a new title and a new cover. Back then, in the summer of 2015, I couldnít have predicted that the refugee topic would become a global issue that would divide the entire world, and it would remain divided to this day.
And NO, I never thought I would become a writer. From young age my passions were drawing, painting, graphic design and movies.
2. What genre do you write?
After writing and publishing the first two parts of my trilogy Destination: Freedom and Definition of Freedom, I had to find a new genre.
Many self-published authors call themselves multi-genre authors and I did the same in the beginning. I had to figure out what Iím good
at and most importantly what genre I enjoy writing the most. My case is also a bit different because my mother language is Farsi and my
second languages are German and Swiss German, so I have to translate my stories to English.
But I have never spent more than a few weeks in English speaking countries such as America, Canada
or United Kingdom. Iíve learned English mainly from watching TV. In other words, English is
a foreign language for me and my skills are limited compared to British, American, Canadian or Australian authors.
Therefore, Iíve decided to focus on children and YA books which is what I enjoy writing the most.
3. Where can readers find your books, eBooks and audiobooks?
My print books are available on Amazon in paperback. Destination Freedom (hard cover) and Keep Smiling, No Matter What (colorful picture book) are both available on peecho.com.
My eBooks are available on Smashwords and their partner pages such as Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, Kobo, Scribd, Apple, Sony, Overdrive, Odilo, etc. I donít offer my eBooks on Amazon as Kindle.
My audiobooks are available on Amazon (physical CD) and in several download stores such as www.audiobooks.com, www.nookaudiobooks.com,
www.estories.com, and more.
4. What is special about your books?
You mean beside the fact that most of my stories are inspired by true events and people?
Some of my book titles are also available in German and Italian. And most of my books have
a merchandising collection on https://society6.com/ which makes the books a lovely gift along with a product from my book collections.
5. Whatís the best part about writing?
Everything about writing is exciting. When I worked on my memoir, I traveled back in time and relived my life. Realizing the mistakes and poor decisions
Iíve made was a reminder and warning to not repeat them again. Reliving the bad times was an eye-opener. It made me grateful for what I have overcome and
achieved today despite all the obstacles and difficulties. Reliving the good moments was priceless. Especially the memories of
my childhood with my respected and beloved grandparents.
Today when I work on my children and YA books there is no limit for imagination. I feel and think like a kid and there are no rules.
Iím the creator and enjoy the entire writing process of creating the characters, dialogues, story line, and making the
colorful illustrations and the book covers together with my best friend: my precious and gorgeous mum, Sima.
6. Whatís the worst part about writing?
Nothing about writing itself is negative. If it wasnít fun, I wouldnít do it. Life and reality are hard enough,
so I only do things that bring me joy and happiness. Writing is a good way of escaping from reality and negative people.
Writing is spending your energy, thoughts, experiences, creativity, feelings, emotions, hopes and passion on something positive.
The truth is that the older I get the more I appreciate time and how precious it is, so I prefer to be creative and productive.
I avoid conversations that are shallow, negative, and full of gossip and other non-productive activities.
7. What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors, or grammar errors?
When I read, I donít care about spelling, punctuation or grammar errors because thatís all irrelevant. What counts is the
story and the messages that I feel and learn from. However, I know that many readers are bothered by it and thatís
why it is necessary for us authors to work with professional and experienced editors.
8.What is your best writing advice to aspiring authors?
Write from your heart and touch peopleís souls. Donít care about spelling, punctuation and grammar! Thatís the editorís job.
The more you focus on your writing and characters and less about grammar and spelling the better your story.
9. What is your opinion about self-publishing?
I think it is amazing to be able to publish a book without the support of a traditional publishing house. Thought, I have to say it is a challenging journey. You must have a lot of discipline, determination, assertiveness and self-belief. Without them, donít even think about it.
Iíve seen many writers with varying degrees of talent coming and going in the last years. I think the problem is that instead of finding inspiration in other indie authorsí work and commitment, jealousy and lack of self-confidence made them disappear from the community. Just like in real life, there is a lot of jealousy going on.
Being competitive is one thing but treating fellow authors unfairly and being bitchy is another thing. Many indies pretend to be supportive while in reality all they do is care about their own benefits. Trust me, Iíve seen it and hopefully I wonít fall for it again.
The reality is that being a self-published author is not only challenging but also a lonely journey. The only person you can and should count on is you and hopefully soon your readership. Be aware that the support in the indie community is limited, which is absolutely fine because authors are not writing for authors, they are writing for readers.
Writing a good story and publishing a book doesnít make you a successful self-published author yet. Traditionally published authors have a professional team of editors, illustrators, cover designers, marketing, PR and social media specialists. As an indie author, you have to be all in one; and that can be very frustrating.
Iím lucky because I do everything myselfĖmy cover design, my illustrations, the photo shoots for my social media posts etc.Ėwith the help and support of my creative mum. The only professional help I get is the support from an editor. I have worked with four English speaking editors so far, and I have to say finding the right editor is as important as
everything else during the writing process. My current editor is excellent. She doesnít just correct and make suggestions, she explains why she is correcting or suggesting something, so I learn a lot during the editing process.
We live in a decade where nothing is impossible. In 2017 I produced two audiobooks. Working with a professional narrator in the UK and in the USA was, again, a positive experience. Hearing your written words spoken by another personís voice makes your story come to life. I absolutely love the two narrators I choose. They have done a great job.
In 2018 I began to work with a translator for the first time. This is a very interesting process, as well. Iím very happy that I have decided to translate some of my books from English to Italian.
So, all in all, self-publishing is an exciting and fulfilling journey depending on your expectations regarding sales. Because the reality is that despite
social media and all the eBook and audiobook stores, it takes years until you make any profit from your investments. So, when you invest time, energy and
money in your projects you must be aware that many other peopleĖeditors, graphic designers, illustrators, translators, narratorsĖand companies like
Amazon will benefit from your work before you see a penny!
10. What is your opinion about social media?
When you read my books Americaís Royal Family, Leo & Mousi, Refugees Unwanted or Bunny & Turtle you get an idea about my feeling towards social media. I never was and never will be a fan. I think it has become a bad habit in our society and everyone, in my case the writer community, feels obligated to be part of it.
The worst thing about social media is that itís time-consuming, and once you decide to join the party you have to invest a lot of time there regularly, sometimes daily. Regarding the number of followers and so called ďfriendsĒ my experience in the last years has been more negative than positive.
Like in real life, there are many pretenders and takers out there. And if you are too trusting and giving like I am, you only end up feeling used and disappointed. The more time goes by the less time I waste at these shallow parties! As opposite to many fellow authors,
I have realized and accepted that followers are not necessarily readers and likes and comments donít pay my bills!
11. Who or what inspired you to write your book Teddy & Lily?
Most of my children books, such as Angel of Hope & Lily, Bon Voyage, Little Lily, Teddy & Lily, Birdy & Fishy and Leo & Mousi, Refugees Unwanted, are inspired by my memoirs.
Iím still working on the last part of my trilogy Definition of Love and during my writing process I looked back over the people who had come in and out of our life. I analyzed relationships with family members, friends, and work colleagues and came to one sad conclusion:
Humans are regrettably the most unkind, ungrateful, dishonest, and disloyal of friends. Lies and dishonesty are things that makes me sick to my stomach.
What makes me furious is when humans behave badly and disrespectfully but seriously think they got away with it by fooling others and pretending nothing ever happened. Thatís how I came up with the idea to write this lovely book from Teddyís point of view.
I see myself as an advocate for friendship and honesty and after producing the audiobook of Teddy & Lily, my mum and I set up The Teddy Charity Project. If you like to know more about it, please visit this link
12. Who or what inspired you to write your book Birdy & Fishy?
Birdy & Fishy, Destination Freedom is a timeless story for all ages. Humans love to complain about everything and everyone and are
probably the most ungrateful creatures in the world. The main reason for that is that we humans always envy and compare our
life with othersí instead of being thankful for what we already have. Iím very proud of this short but meaningful story and was
once again inspired by jealousy from so called ďfriendsĒ, who prefer to focus on the glass half empty and not the glass half full.
13. When and why did you decide to publish your books in Italian?
I love Italy. I love the nature, the culture, the food and the Italian people. I think Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe.
One of the benefits of living in Switzerland is that we are surrounded by great countries such as Italy, France, Austria and Germany.
In the fall of 2017 my mum and I went to Toscana and it reminded us once again of how cultural this country is. And the fact that my
favorite childrenís book author of all time, Carlo Collodi, was from Tuscany and inspired me to translate my books into Italian.
14. When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When Iím not writing, Iím either thinking about writing or Iím working on my illustrations and graphic designs for my childrenís books. I donít only write books; I also have found my passion for blogging.
I began blogging in 2016, and after one year I decided to publish a seasonal blogger magazine. Read My Mind was born in 2017 and is about publishing, books, history, traveling, movies and more. Itís available online and in print.
In 2018 I came up with the idea for a free monthly magazine called Read My Lips, No Comment. It is a monthly review, in picture format, about world politics, our society, and entertainment.
Despite fast growing interest and large readership the magazines have attained, I have decided to take time off.
The previous years have been intense because of working on several book projects, illustrations, my collections and the two online magazines things became just too exhausting.
Right now Iím working on several new book project and illustrations. Therefore, I wonít be publishing more issues of "Read My Mind" and "Read My Lips, No Comment"
for a while. The last issue of Read My Lips was published in April 2018. And the last issue of Read My Mind will be published in November 2018.
I donít think it will be a goodbye forever but surely a goodbye for 2019!
15. What would you like to achieve as an author?
There are many goals I have as an author. With my memoir, Destination Freedom, I like to be the voice for the voiceless and bring awareness,
understanding and compassion for refugees and foreigners worldwide. Especially for child refugees who are the innocent victims of war.
They need a fair chance for a life in dignity and a happy and fearless future with opportunities like anyone else.
With my illustrated children books, that to this date are mostly influenced by my memoir, I like to inspire and educate children about important
values such as family, friendship, honesty, integrity and loyalty. I enjoy writing them because I also do the illustrations with the help
of my talented and creative mum, Sima.
I also like to support international charities that are focused on helping refugee families and children in legal matters and education.
And finally one of my big goals is to turn my memoir into a movie with a great production team and an international cast.