Author Name: Amy Stilgenbauer
Book Name: Sideshow
Release Date: August 25, 2016
Abby Amaro wants to sing at La Scala Opera House, but she’s a good girl, and in 1957 good girls get married. Still, when she receives her first marriage proposal, she freezes, knowing the way her suitor makes her feel bodes trouble. When he won’t take no for an answer, she flees, joining up with a traveling carnival.
Thanks to a burlesque trapeze artist and the world’s saddest clown, Abby bides her time and fits in until she can rejoin the world she knows. She doesn’t expect a sideshow strongwoman named Suprema, who captures her imagination. As the carnival makes its way across the Midwest, Abby learns much more than she had ever imagined—about herself, about her identity, and, most importantly, about love.
Pages or Words: 61,000 words
Categories: Fiction, Historical, Lesbian Romance, Romance
Abby couldn’t remember falling asleep. She only remembered the dark night and how, outside the window of Della’s trailer, the rolling slopes of Eastern Ohio slowly flattened into the farmland of the western side of the state and faded into darkness. She didn’t say much during the trip, but her mind was spinning, unable to process what she had done.
Once, when she had been a little girl, barely older than Annette was now, her mother had taken her and Natale to visit their aunt in Chicago for a week. It had been a nice visit. They had embarked on the train with a great deal of ceremony, and Za Teresa had spoiled the pair rotten, loading them up with peach-shaped marzipan and pizzelle until they were both sick. She hadn’t left Cleveland for any extended period of time since. Oh, sure, she’d talked and dreamt about it. Nonna often wistfully mentioned taking a trip back to her girlhood home one more time now that the war was over and taking Abby along to look after her, and then, if her opera career took off as she had once hoped, she would be visiting all the great cities. In her scrapbook, clippings of Palais Garnier, La Scala, and The Met were decorated with carefully drawn hearts and hopeful stars and the scrawled word: someday. Still, she had never imagined that when she departed the Coventry neighborhood again, it would be in a burlesque dancer’s trailer.
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Hi Amy, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Thanks for having me! I’m a writer from Ohio who somehow ended up in Michigan. I spent my whole childhood being told that this state was awful, but it turns out to pretty great, despite some weird blue laws about carnivals. Sideshow is set at a 1950s carnival and follows the adventures of a carnie newbie named Abby Amaro and what happens when she meets the fascinating sideshow strongwoman, Suprema.
Q: Favorite thing about building your own world?
A: I might just be saying this because I’m a history nerd, but the research required to create this world is something I could do forever. There are so many dynamic little twists and turns and interesting tidbits to uncover, whether it be the particulars of how a certain sideshow act worked, or carnival slang, or Cleveland and Chicago street scenes in the 1950s. I can get so caught up in the research sometimes and I love every minute of it.
Q: What inspired you to write your first book?
A: My first book Legend of League Park was inspired a girl in my life, who was about three at the time. She was throwing a ball around and her mother happened to comment to her that she had quite the arm, maybe she’d be a pitcher when she grew up. The little girl said. “Don’t be silly. Girls can’t play baseball.” The more I ruminated on this, the sadder it made me. Eventually, the book was born. Most of my writing is inspired similarly. I try to live by one motto in my writing, written above my desk, “be the person that could have saved you.”
Q: Do you have a specific writing style?
A: I’m not sure if I can define it, but I’m sure I do. I like to think of it as “conversational” but not quite to the point of “stream of consciousness.” Though, sometimes a good stream of consciousness poem or flash fiction is just what I need to write. I try to organize as best I can where things will go, but in the end, I usually end up letting the story take me where it will.
Q: Who are some of the authors that influenced you to write?
A: So many. Do you have a few hours? Growing up, I read a lot of L.M. Montgomery, especially the Emily of New Moon books and those had a huge impact on me. Other authors from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte to Gregory Maguire and Jacqueline Winspear have all left their mark on me. I have read very few books that haven’t influenced me in at least some small way. Even the ones that make me say “this isn’t for me” have taught me something.
Q: What are some jobs you’ve held? Have any of them impacted your writing? How?
A: I’ve had so many jobs in my short life: Pizza Parlour, Barista, Clerk’s Assistant, Public Relations for a tiny non-profit, so on and so on. Each one of them has played a big role in my writing. They’ve taught me how people behave and that food service is a more noble calling than most give it credit for. The key occupation though, has got to be my current one as an archivist. Being an archivist taught me about using the overlooked parts of history and how to find a story in a census record. It showed me the sheer volume of humanity trying to tell its stories. Being a writer is one way I tell those stories. Being an archivist is another.
Meet the author:
Amy Stilgenbauer is a writer and aspiring archivist currently based in southeast Michigan. She is the author of the novelette series, Season of the Witch, as well as the Young Adult novel, The Legend of League Park. Her short story, The Fire-Eater’s Daughter, was included in Summer Love, an LGBTQ Young Adult collection published by Duet, an imprint of Interlude Press. When she isn’t writing, Amy enjoys all things bergamot and tries to keep her cats away from her knitting.
Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/amystilgenbauerwrites
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29557163-sideshow
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: C.B. Messer
Tour Dates & Stops:
Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Interlude Press gift card for one winner, an e-copy of ‘Sideshow’ for five winners
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