Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with Amy Rivers, author of Complicit (A Legacy of Silence).
FQ: Can you detail some of the particular ways that your work in the field of Sexual Assault Nursing played into this story?
RIVERS: My understanding of and appreciation for the field of forensic nursing is probably the most obvious way that working in the field plays into my story. Despite not being a nurse, I completed Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training, observed and debriefed on cases, and prepped nurses to give expert testimony in court. I was involved in several multi-disciplinary teams that put me in direct contact with law enforcement and other professionals from a variety of jurisdictions. I was involved in community education and advocacy events, which gave me invaluable perspective on the impact of sexual violence for victims, their families, and entire communities. To say that these experiences simply affected me would be an understatement. I think it would be difficult to leave that field completely behind and I am grateful to have found a way to not only make sense of my own thoughts and feelings about these topics, but also to share some of my perspective with readers.
FQ: Which female writers, contemporary or classic, have served as inspiration for your mystery books?
RIVERS: I love to read Karin Slaughter and Lisa Gardner, who are both masters of this genre. They write a lot of trauma and interpersonal violence into their books so I get a pretty good education on how it’s done just by reading them. These are the women who I hope one day will read one of my books and think “YES!” I’m a huge fan of Isabel Allende who writes beautifully about women and familial relationships. I also adore Jane Austen’s knack for creating minor characters who are as fascinating as her leads. Really, there are too many to list. Women writers are amazing.
FQ: Kate and Tilly, two of your lead characters, have had many traumas to overcome; did you have a model for their often rancorous, but ultimately forgiving, relationship?
RIVERS: Since I’m constantly studying human behavior in relationships, especially when it comes to my family, the dynamic between my sister and I was where I looked first to make interactions between Kate and Tilly more authentic. That being said, neither character really resembles us. We’ve both certainly had our fair share of struggles, but nothing like what Kate and Tilly have gone through and continue to go through. On the other hand, my sister is my best friend and I wanted Kate and Tilly to find their way back to one another, probably because I find so much comfort in my relationship with my own sister.
FQ: How long did it take you to complete Complicit from the time you first envisioned it?
RIVERS: The general idea for Complicit has been stewing in my brain for years but from the time I started putting words down it took about a year and a half to finish. The initial writing process is pretty quick for me. I spend most of my time in revision, where I get rid of all the garbage and fine-tune what’s left. At publication, Complicit will have gone through about 10 full revisions, a developmental edit, a line edit, and proofreading.
FQ: Could you envision a feature length film based on this book?
RIVERS: I would love to see this story on screen. When I’m writing, I think about who I’d want to see playing my main characters. For Kate and Tilly, I’d love to see someone like Diane Guerrero or Adria Arjona. It’s probably not a coincidence that both of these women are activists and advocates in addition to being accomplished actresses. The subject-matter of Complicit is very dark and serious. I’d love to see it acted by people who can really showcase the depths of these themes, while bringing out the hope and resiliency that are also present.
FQ: Is writing now your full-time profession?
RIVERS: It is, yes. Of course, I also run a writing organization and I’m a mom, so I have responsibilities that sometimes supersede my writing time, but I’ve always worked best under pressure so the rigorousness of my juggling act suits me. I am very lucky to be able to pursue my dreams this way, and I owe a lot of thanks to my incredibly supportive family.
FQ: How has your role as Director of Northern Colorado Writers influenced your own writing style and aspirations?
RIVERS: The great thing about running NCW is having access to so many talented people. I’ve learned a lot about writing outside my comfort zone and I’ve come to appreciate how passionate and steadfast writers can be, even in the face of constant rejection. In terms of my personal time, I knew when I took over the organization that I’d have to make some changes to my personal writing goals and that’s actually been a blessing. I sometimes resist letting go of things, but writing full-time and running NCW has forced me to slow down, to get extra-organized, and to prioritize in a big way. All good things to practice.
FQ: What advice would you offer to other women who might wish to undertake works in the mystery novel genre?
RIVERS: There really is no limit to what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it. The publishing industry can be a trying space to work and crime fiction can sometimes feel very male-dominated, but there are really wonderful, supportive organizations out there that will help you in your journey. Sisters-In-Crime is one of my favorites. My local chapter consists of wonderfully talented writers who span the genre from cozies to hard-boiled detective stories to thrillers. Finding a community is one of the most important things that I’ve done for myself as an author, and I really recommend it to anyone who wants to journey down this rabbit-hole.