Meet Amanda Michelle Brown, Debut Author of The Memory Jumper

When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. My earliest memory was writing a story on loose-leaf paper with green pen inspired by a fairytale I read in the Blue Fairy Book. From there, I wrote a series of short stories about my grandparents’ two dogs. Fairytales have seemed to follow me around, though; most of what I’ve written has been about fairies or retellings of classical fairytales. However, the book I deem to be my first official novel (over 36 pages, haha) was a young adult contemporary novel about an orphan.

What is your writing process like?

It’s kind of chaotic, much like my designing for my day job. I get an idea and just pursue it like a chicken with its head cut off. I close my eyes and just let the idea come to me. My brain is a wild constellation of characters, scenes, plots, and motives; the trick is to lasso the right ones together into something that makes sense. I’ve found if I can shut off my inner critic, a story will usually play in my brain like a movie. It’s just up to me to capture what is happening “onscreen.”

What inspired The Memory Jumper?

I remember wondering, “What if Rapunzel had lived underground instead of up in a tower?” I don’t even remember how I got the idea for Memory Jumping, but there’s always been a part of me that’s fascinated by psychology and the human brain. I did a good bit of research on the human brain and memory for this novel, which deepened my interest in psychology.

Then, in 2019, I met a lot of young girls who had been through traumatic abuse and home situations. My heart broke in a way it never had before, and yet I realized that my story finally had a heart, and Adelaide had a voice: she would be the voice of all these girls who felt they lived in silence and isolation.

Which song best encapsulates The Memory Jumper?

Paper Doll by Bea Miller is such a bop, and perfectly related to my novel. It’s an empowering song, almost like it’s being sung by Adelaide to Fawn. It definitely makes me feel like I can conquer anything, even though I’m small and quiet.

Did somebody make you feel invisible?
Is it true hurt people hurt people?
The way you hate and break
It don’t make no sense at all
But you’re not gonna make me feel invisible.

How did you balance writing The Memory Jumper with your other responsibilities?

I’ve written this novel over my years in high school, college, and the beginning of adulthood with a full-time job. Most of how I wrote this book, to be totally honest, is just a blur. I’ve always had some crazy project going on the side, so I’ve learned to block out time for my current pursuit.

How has The Memory Jumper changed since the initial concept/first draft?

Originally, the novel was a mash-up of some of my favorite princesses. In addition to Rapunzel, Mason was supposed to be an ode to Aurora (living in the woods with his three fairy aunts, unaware that he’s really a prince that was removed from the castle as an infant due to danger). There was also a nod to Cinderella, where Fawn forced Adelaide to participate in a ball where she had to get Prince Adam to fall in love with her. I also couldn’t decide for the longest time if I wanted a twist in the story where Mason is actually a villain, only using Adelaide for her powers. Queen Colette’s storyline didn’t exist at all, but in the final version she’s very much a part of the story.

Which characters were your favorite to write about and why?

I loved Colette, which is why I’m so grateful that Mel Torrefranca and the Lost Island Press team allowed me to add her POV to the final draft even late into edits. She is supposed to be a foil character to Adelaide, showing readers an unhealthy way of dealing with trauma. Yet she’s also supposed to be relatable, a reminder that when we find someone who is going through something similar to us it can be so powerful and remind us we aren’t alone. Colette has a very lyrical, somber, haunting narrating voice and I loved her for that.

I also loved writing Mason, because he’s a conglomeration of guys I knew growing up that helped me become who I am today. But at the end of the day, he represents an event or person or something that gets you to question your circumstances and decide to choose a better life for yourself.

Which chapter was your favorite to write and why?

In a way, I loved writing the chapters where Adelaide got really stuck in her head because it was so personal to me. I went through a season of depression and know intimately what it feels like to just feel so gray, so purposeless. Sometimes you’re in public and just feel like screaming, wondering how people can pass and not see the tearing inside of you. I don’t mind being moody and introspective, so I could really sink into these eloquently melodramatic passages.

If you had the chance to meet your characters, what would you say to them?

I’d give Adelaide a big hug, because there’s a part of all of us in her. She’s all of my campers from summer 2019 who just needed a listening ear and a safe place. There’s something so healing about hugging someone when you know they need it more than you do. You’re giving them something intangible, something precious. I’d also really like to sit down with Colette and just listen—that’s all she really needs. All of us are able to decide what course of action to take in any situation, if only we have someone who will sit and listen while we figure it out.

I’d love to meet Mason, because I know I could be best friends with him. He’s so happy-go-lucky and I love people who are fixers, because I’m always making a terrible mess of things. I believe I’d get along with every character, except for Fawn and Wesley because, to me, they embody everything wrong with the world. I have an innate, burning desire for everyone to be heard and understood, so people who aren’t empathetic and smash other people’s souls make me absolutely livid. And I don’t get angry easily. I try to be civilized with everyone, but these types of people? Do not cross me.

If The Memory Jumper were to be adapted onto screen, would you prefer a TV series or a movie?

I want to say TV series just because I love that Hollywood has finally decided to do longform book content, but I have to say movie. I think forcing myself to cut parts out would make the piece more like a vignette of depression and triumph, which is innately cinematic and meaningful.

What do you like doing outside of writing?

My second love is graphic design. I love being an artist, and I feel like I’ve learned so much from it that I can apply to writing (and vice versa). I also love studying psychology and listening to true crime, which may be why my books tend to be dark. I’m getting back into reading, trying to choose books over movies (even though I really really love studying movies: the shot types, the characters, the plot, the costumes, etc.).

Honestly, one of my favorite things is daily lunch with my coworkers. They tell funny stories about their first time getting sugared, adventures in starting podcasts, the woes of planning weddings, and all sorts of other gems. I collect these and hope to use the emotions behind them for a future novel.

If you lived in the world of The Memory Jumper, would you choose to be a Memory Jumper?

I would really love to be a Memory Jumper! This was why the concept initially grabbed my attention. I love how I’ve evolved so much as I’ve written this novel. When I started, I had no idea how fascinated by psychology I’d be in five years. I try to be empathetic with everyone and figure out what people are thinking so I can best relate and react to them, so being able to actually get inside their mind and intimately understand their psyche…how could I pass that up?

What are some of your favorite books?

I was looking at my Goodreads the other day and noticed most of my highly-rated favorite books are…SO. SAD. Haha! So strange for me, since I’m a very bubbly person. I loved the hauntingly poetic writing in books such as A History of Wild Places, The Poisonwood Bible, and Where the Crawdads Sing. I’m a sucker for classics: Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Sherlock Holmes, and anything Edgar Allen Poe. O’Henry taught me the art of capturing strong emotion in a tiny package: his short stories are masterpieces. I also love retellings of fairytales, even if they aren’t written super well: The Madman’s Daughter and The Fall.

What are your future goals?

I’ve been reflecting on this a lot recently. My biggest life dream was to publish a book. What do you do when you achieve a giant goal at such a young age? You’d think you’d be over-the-moon…which I am, but I also feel this stinging desire to do something even more daring and bold. I would love to write another book or two (I have some challenges for myself, such as writing with a male MC, writing in the third person, or writing a mystery). But mainly I would love to start a company one day of some sort, and perhaps visit Italy. Maybe they both have something to do with each other. Probably not.

Do you have any upcoming projects/ideas that you could tell us about?

I’m hoping to jump back into blogging regularly on Oh Beloved One, but besides that I’m very excited (and also terrified) to jump back into novel writing. I have an idea poking my shoulder constantly and I can’t ignore it any longer. I am willing to admit, I hate failure: if I think I’ll be bad at something, I just don’t try.

I want to write a novel about how we live in a society that encourages a lack of trying because it makes everything so easy. Everybody thinks they’re a blogger, a photographer, a videographer, a handletterer, and influencer…a content creator. It’s a beautiful thing in a way, but I also believe it cheapens the craft. My friend who does film photography painstakingly is a lot different from the hobbyist “photographer” using their iPhone 5 and VSCO filters. This novel will be sci-fi, with a third person POV and a very goofy narrator.

If you could say one thing to your past self while you were writing The Memory Jumper, what would it be?

“The patience you’re building now is going to be so worth it.”

I was well aware that the writing, editing, and publishing process is a long-haul, but I looked at it with much disdain. Now I know that every year I live just means I’m that much more aware of human nature and what it takes to write a good story with strong heart.

What advice would you give to other writers out there?

Write about everything and anything. I got stuck trying to put a dress on in a thrift store today, and I found the whole incident pretty hilarious because it showed how stubborn and disillusioned I can be. I wrote it into a tongue-in-cheek short story, and who knows—maybe one day that story will morph into a character or a moment. At the very least, it allowed me practice writing. Also, read a wide variety of writers. Their voice will become a vial in your brain which you can pull from in the future when crafting your narrator’s voice.

Katie Flanagan

Katie Flanagan is a college student with a passion for writing and editing fiction. Several literary magazines have published her work. She plays an important role behind the scenes at Lost Island Press by reviewing submissions during contests, managing social media profiles, and ensuring our books are ready to launch. Katie is involved in both our technical and creative project decisions.