We had so much fun having Amy Blumenfeld as a guest on our Sarah Scoop book chat. Give it a listen below to learn a little more about Amy & “The Cast”. Then keep reading for our interview with this talented author!
Amy Blumenfeld is an acclaimed journalist turned up-and-coming author. Her debut novel, The Cast, hit shelves just a few weeks ago and we were able to find ourselves a copy! Check out what we thought of it below:
Review of The Cast by Amy Blumenfeld
The Cast by Amy Blumenfeld is a novel based around its characters. These life-long friends came together when one of their own was sick in high school. Through their team work and emotional support, their friend got better. Fast-forward twenty-five years later, life has changed for everyone and the friends have some stuff they need to figure out.
The best part of this novel is the character development. We go into the minds of different characters. Each one has a different voice, a different perspective, and a different battle they are facing. Beyond the characters though, the story brings to light that as we grow and become older, not everything can be planned. People change, things happen, and sometimes the unexpected occurs. This friend reunion quickly changes course as these characters slowly start to show their true selves.
This book is humorous, enjoyable, and sweet. It shows the importance of friendships in good times and bad. It brings to light that people grow and evolve and that unexpected little moments can change everything. The Cast by Amy Blumenfeld is a novel you will surely be glad to have read.
Q&A with Amy Blumenfeld
After reading The Cast, we were able to interview Amy! She talked to us about her inspirations for her book, her dreams to write another one, and how she made the switch from journalism to writing. Read all about it here:
Just to start, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
First and foremost, I am a mom to my incredible 12-year-old daughter. I’ve been married for 16 years to a saint and I am very proud to be the daughter and sister of very special people. I was born and raised in Queens, NY and with the exception of a semester abroad in Jerusalem, I’ve lived in NY my entire life. I have a background in journalism, but have spent the last few years working on this novel.
What were you up to before you became an author?
I was a journalist and freelance writer. After graduate school, I worked on staff at American Health magazine for a couple of years and then at George magazine. When George folded, I wrote an article that ended up a cover story in People and from there I started writing freelance articles for a variety of publications.
What inspired you to be a writer?
I’ve always found that I express myself best through writing. As a kid, I didn’t even mind writing thank you notes! In college, I really enjoyed and learned more from the classes that required term papers rather than exams. There was something about the research and writing process that clicked for me. I wrote a few op-ed essays for the college paper and found it very rewarding to see those pieces resonate and spark conversations among others. I decided to go to graduate school for journalism but thought I wanted to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. My college internships had been in television — NBC’s Weekend Today Show and at WABC-TV Eyewitness News. Working in those environments was extremely exciting, but one of the most valuable lessons I learned in grad school was where my strengths lay. I realized that the format and style of writing for television differed greatly from print and that the more natural fit for me was print
What is The Cast about?
The Cast is about a group of childhood friends who reunite as adults. In ninth grade, one member of the group gets cancer and the rest rally around her as she goes through treatment. They realize they can’t heal her with medicine so they create a Saturday Night Live-style videotape to keep her laughing. She recovers and then, twenty-five years later, they all get together over a long summer weekend. Of course, this getaway does not go according to plan. The perfect facades they’ve all been hiding behind quickly crumble and each one is faced with complex moral dilemmas and life-altering choices.
What was your inspiration for the novel?
The first was a videotape created by 10 families (40 people in total) comprised of my parents’ friends and their children. Like the video in The Cast, it was ninety minutes of complete siliness with the single goal of making me laugh while I was undergoing treatment for cancer as a child. This was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received and a model for the power of true friendship.
The second source of inspiration was the master’s project I wrote in graduate school about adult survivors of childhood cancer. I spent several months learning about the physical and psychological long-term effects of childhood cancer treatment and meeting and interviewing medical experts, survivors, and their loved ones. At graduation, my professor suggested I turn the project into a book. I suspect he meant non-fiction, but somehow, all these years later, it turned into a novel.
The third source of inspiration were the conversations I had with my friends when we turned 40. We were all having these deep discussions about relationships, religion, parenting, where we were in our lives, where we thought we would be at this point, what we hoped to accomplish, etc. And I suddenly had an idea. Why not combine the important messages from the master’s project with the topics my friends and I were discussing and weave them all together into a novel that centered on the power of true friendship? I created a bunch of relatable characters and interesting story lines and decided to write the type of book I liked to read – thought-provoking, smart, and fun contemporary fiction. And, I used the videotape as the glue that bonded the group together. I had no formal experience writing fiction, but hoped that my passion for the characters and the issues I wanted to bring to light would propel me through the process.
Do you have plans to write another novel? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
I would love to write another novel! In fact, I’d really like to write a sequel to The Cast. I feel some of the story lines are not done… there is more to be said about a few of the supporting characters.
Who and/or what inspires you the most to write?
There are various sources of inspiration for different reasons. When I see a topic in the news or in everyday life that I want to explore, that inspires me to do some research and possibly write about it. When I see other writers take a fascinating and complex subject and humanize it by telling a story about it through well-developed characters, that inspires me to do the same. And in a way, my daughter inspires me. I want to be a positive role model for her and provide an example of a woman who is not perfect, but does her best to balance her commitment to a family she loves and a job she loves.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? How do you like to create?
I like to let ideas marinate in my head for a bit. Then I put them down on paper. For The Cast, the very first thing I did was create the characters. I thought about them for a while and then typed out a description of them on my computer. Once I had a detailed picture of each character, I created their backstories, quirks, desires, goals, interests, etc. From there, I made a general blueprint for the novel as a whole. Then I broke it down into chapters and what I needed to happen in each chapter. I visualized it almost like scenes in a movie unfolding over time. Of course, when I started writing, I often veered from my plan. I’d start a chapter with set points that I needed to hit, but once I started writing dialogue, the characters became like real people and I’d think, “she wouldn’t say that!” so the characters voices guided the story in different directions. They really became my imaginary friends! Ultimately, I arrived at the big moments in the story that I needed to get to, but it was often a circuitous route getting there!
Is there a fun fact about yourself that might surprise our readers if you were to share it with them?
My daughter, Mia, is an artist. She has had a couple of art exhibitions and published a book of her paintings when she was 11-years-old. I’m super proud of her. It’s clearly a recessive gene because I am a stick figure artist…
Did you struggle to get published? What was that process like for you personally?
After working on the manuscript for two years, I was thrilled to sign with a great agent who believed in the book and was willing to champion it. I think the two most challenging parts of the publishing process are: 1) the time it takes for editors to read your work and respond – a great deal of patience is required. And 2) accepting that this business, especially when it comes to fiction, is highly subjective. What strikes a chord with one person may not resonate at all with the next person. I kept telling myself that my heart was in this book and eventually a publisher will fall in love with it the way my agent did. Ultimately, that happened, but it took a while.
What advice would you give to struggling writers out there who are trying to accomplish their dreams?
1) Listen to your gut. If you believe you have a story to tell, keep at it. This is a very subjective business; don’t allow a negative reaction from someone else derail you. 2) Think in small steps. It can be incredibly overwhelming to look at the monumental amount of work required to write a book, but if you tackle one little step at a time and stay committed, you can get there. Make a to-do list with daily or weekly goals for yourself. I find to-do lists very effective.
What do you want people to gain the most from your writing?
I’d like my writing to be thought-provoking and moving. I’d love for it to stay with the reader after the last word is read. There was a poster in my daughter’s fourth grade classroom that said “I may not remember what you said, but I’ll remember how you made me feel.” Would I like my readers to recall and recite lines from my novel? Sure! Of course! What writer wouldn’t want that?! But really, what I hope people take away and remember is how the book inspired them, changed them, and made them feel.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
I’d love to write another book!
Do you have any final words of wisdom that you would like to share with our readers?
I hope you enjoy the read!
The Cast is now available wherever books are sold!