Award-winning author and blogger Amy McCorkle, whose works have been published under her real name as well as her pen name, Kate Lynd, is probably most noted for her non-fiction book, Letters to Daniel, which was spawned by her blog of the same title. Started in May of 2013, the blog Letters to Daniel consisted of open letters she had written to actor Daniel Craig, whom Amy is a huge fan of. However, the entries in the blog were definitely not typical gushing, fan letters. They were written as is Amy were talking to a close friend and the subject matter ranged from light and humorous to, as Amy puts it; “dark, heavy shit most people take to their graves with them.” Most of Amy’s other works have been of the sci-fi and erotic romance genre, which have also been quite successful, making Amazon’s paid best seller list.
The Kentucky native and avid Wildcats fan is also a screenwriter. Her first films, which she also produced, she chalks up to learning experiences, but, as this goes to press, her script for the film adaptation of Letters to Daniel has been nominated for best script by the International Christian Film Festival and is an official selection at the NOVA Fest (The Northern Virginia International Film & Music Festival). Of course, for the ICFF, Amy decided to trim some of the coarse language from her script, as her writing pulls no punches. Photo at left courtesy of Amy herself.
First off, I’d like to thank you for reaching out to me about an interview, Amy. I always encourage ladies to use the contact link and send me a message, so I very much appreciate you doing that and it’s my pleasure to have you here.
AMY LEIGH McCORKLE: Thank you. I appreciate that very much. The message of this particular book (Letters to Daniel) is very important to me. It’s very universal, so I want everyone to hear it.
CHRIS: Let’s start off with that. In May of 2013, you started a blog entitled “Letters to Daniel,” in which the entries are actually open letters to actor Daniel Craig. However, they’re not gloating fan letters. You are a fan and you admire his work, but the entries are open letters where you talk about yourself as if talking to a friend. So, what inspired you to start this blog and have Daniel Craig as the recipient of the letters?
AMY: In 2011, I got my first publication contract and, as I was with a smaller company, I had conversations with the actual publisher and one of the ideas she gave me was to start a blog and to get a couple of people who might have bipolar disorder to contribute. Now, just to manage your own illness is hard enough, but if you get a group of people who might be going through various stages of the illness, it might be more difficult. Maybe it was just laziness, but a couple of years later, what inspired me to do the blog was me thinking, “Oh, I’ll just write this open letter to Daniel Craig” and that’s what broke me through this glass ceiling. As I was writing this open letter, I realized I was creating a blog and I thought, “I don’t want a blog that’s just one letter,” and it seems like everybody does an open letter to their favorite actor or their favorite musician and I’ve seen this since, but about halfway through the letter, I thought, “You know, I’ve always wanted to do my memoirs,” and I would specifically address bipolar disorder and my journey with it and I figured this would be a great way to do it because as I was writing the letter. It wasn’t necessarily that I was writing to Daniel Craig, it was like I had this non-judgemental friend and I could tell this person anything I wanted to and they wouldn’t judge me. They wouldn’t look at me like I was a freak. I could just go and unload whatever was on my mind and what made me do it in kind of a journal format was my therapist always saying I should journal my emotions.
You can be more aware of your triggers, you can be more aware of what’s going on with your symptoms. I didn’t really take that into account, but as I was writing it, you can almost see me getting better through the letters, and I didn’t notice this until a friend of mine, who had watched me over the last five years said, “Amy, you can really see you growing as a person throughout these letters, no matter what it is you’re talking about.” The blog itself started maybe a month before I graduated therapy, but the letters became like the final piece to the puzzle to me getting better ….to being in a better state of recovery, because with mental illness, at least with the disease I have, you don’t ever assume you’ve got it licked because relapse just happens to be part of the game and the nature of it being cyclical. You’ve got the mania and you’ve got the depression.
CHRIS: When your therapist suggested you start a journal your emotions, I assume she meant a private one on paper. Did she know you were going to publish your journal on the Internet?
AMY: No, but she said I was incredibly brave to do so.
CHRIS: Yes, I agree with that. Now, the first question that springs forth is; is Daniel Craig aware of your blog and your book?
AMY: Well, according to the first agent I had, he read the e-book of the “Splendor” letters. He didn’t read the most recent revision, which has all 100. He did read the first volume that I put out. He didn’t want to give a quote for it, but he was incredibly moved by it and he didn’t see it as by the fan who’s going, “Oh, you’re so wonderful!”
CHRIS: Yes, as a matter of fact, as you put it, a lot of the blog posts consist of “heavy dark shit most people take to their graves.”
AMY: (Laughs) Yes.
CHRIS: So have you ever had any communication with him, through e-mail, telephone, a letter ….?
AMY: No, I was never that fortunate. He was reading it during the shooting of Spectre during his down time because of his injury.
You said in one of your entries that the computer and Internet give a false sense of anonymity. As a writer who publishes on the Internet, I know what you mean. Even though when you click “publish,” it goes out the for millions to access, you still sort of get the feeling it’s just you and your computer. So, you have that sense yourself?
AMY: Yeah, when I’m writing it ….the best way to describe it is that I feel completely shut out from the rest of the world. All that matters is what I’m writing and with these letters specifically, I really felt what I was writing. It was like nothing else was going on and basically I told my friends and family they might not like some of what I wrote, so don’t go to the blog if you don’t want to read bad stuff (laughs).
CHRIS: Yes, if they don’t want to read heavy dark shit most people take to their graves.
AMY: Yes, basically.
CHRIS: Well, I admire you for opening yourself in your posts. Now, I noticed you haven’t posted to Letters to Daniel in over a month but that last post wasn’t by you, is was by a guest author named Sara Jayne Townsend and it’s her open letter to Stephen King. Has she been the only guest author you’ve had at the blog, because I didn’t see any others?
AMY: Yes, she was. I recently signed with some managers and they want to change the format to a public speaker, and I’m wary of that because what that blog is essentially there for is for me to keep balanced. That’s how I stay grounded. So, that’s something that I’ll have to go over with my manager because basically that’s what that blog was for, personal use, and the response I got from it, you know, 15,000 hits may not seem like a lot for some people, but for me it was. I have a contact form on it and people would contact me through it saying, “Oh, you’re helping me,” “I don’t have bipolar disorder, I have this, but I can relate to what you’re going through,” and ….I give the book away all the time and that just makes my manager crazy (laughs), but to me, there’s more of a point to this book than just making money. It’s done well. It’s done incredibly well. It’s been on the (Amazon) paid best seller list, it’s done all that, but it’s more about reaching out and letting people know they’re not alone. They don’t have to feel they have to do it the way I did it, but there is an answer and a way out.
So you see this blog continuing on for the foreseeable future, but do you think perhaps you may shut it down someday after you’ve said all there is you have to say?
AMY: Well, it’s funny because I think you never want to think you’ve got bipolar disorder beat because it will definitely come back to bite you in the butt ….but, it might get shut down, eventually, just because of the turn my career is taking. Then it might have to be revamped and then the blog will be part of the public speaker. The blog will still be there, but since the book is a compilation of those posts, and maybe a couple of other letters from other people, I don’t see it shutting down because there’s still things that get to me that I want to write about, it’s just fewer and farther between.
CHRIS: One of the lighter things you reveal about yourself in your blog is that you used to play the saxophone back in middle school and you were quite good.
AMY: Yes, middle school and all through high school.
CHRIS: Do you still play at all these days?
AMY: No, but I love music.
CHRIS: We also have a mutual friend; Kristina Michelle ….
AMY: Oh, I love her!
CHRIS: Yes, she’s one talented and hard-working lady in front of and behind the scenes. You gave her an interview on the Reel Show last year.
AMY: Yes, two years in a row. She’s completely professional. I told my writing partner, she (Kristina) looks 12 years old (laughs) ….and I only say that because I’m 40. I told Missy, my writing partner, “When you meet her, you’re not going to be able to believe it. She runs this thing (The Reel Show), and you’ll go up to her and she’ll know every single script you wrote, and she’ll know it by heart. She doesn’t even need to look down at her paper that she’s got down in front of her.” I have another friend, Pamela Turner, she’s also a script writer and author who had won a couple of awards. She said her name and (Kristina) ran off her scripts. Me and Missy had like 10 awards there last year and Kristina listed them all. I think even alphabetically (laughs). She has a memory that’s just fantastic.
Yeah I’ve done a couple of interviews with Kristina, one just recently, and I’m always impressed with her and how she manages to run her shows and events. Oh, I wanted to ask you about your pen name; Kate Lynd. You’ve written some books under your real name but more under Kate Lynd. I know Kate came from actress Kate Winslet and Lynd came from the Bond Girl in Casino Royal
, Vesper Lynd, who was played by Eva Green. You say she was the best Bond Girl of all time. Why do you think so?
AMY: I’m talking about as far as giving her a story, and giving her something to sink her teeth in. You’ve got to understand, I’m 40 and I’m not actually an all-out fan of the Bond franchise, I’m a fan of the Daniel Craig version of James Bond. I recognize what a behemoth that James Bond, as a franchise, is though. I think there are memorable Bond Girls, but they’re not memorable to me because the women didn’t have much to do except be there and look pretty and be arm candy.
CHRIS: And have very colorful names. You have to love some of their names.
AMY: (Laughs) Yes, I know ….and that’s another thing. But for me, it’s Vesper Lynd. Even in the current run of things, there wasn’t a Bond Girl in Skyfall, which is probably, for my mind, the best movie of the Bond franchise, but my personal favorite is Casino Royal.
CHRIS: I assume you’re also a big fan of Kate Winslet?
Oh yeah. So, I mentioned Missy. She’s my best friend and screenwriting partner. We met at a book store we were both working at when I was 21 and she was 22. Basically, we’ve known each other for 20 years and have written together for 19 of those years and we’re starting to have really big success. I think the ultimate irony is that I went through the screenplay based on this memoir. I edited it because you know my language is very frank and coarse in places in the book. What I did with the screenplay we did, I made sure it was okay with Missy, and we removed the coarse language, did a line edit, but it wasn’t a hardcore rewrite because the screenplay is pretty much is left untouched and we entered it in the International Christian Film Festival, and it received a nomination for best script ….and we just found that out last Thursday. So, that’s like the largest Christian Film Festival. For me, this story is universal. It’s more of an inspirational story than I would say a religious one. And here I am doing your show, and actually another writer friend of mine, who specializes in horror, knew what your site was just by me saying the name of it. So, I knew you were the real deal (laughs).
Well, that’s good to know. So, let’s talk about your films for a bit. You first film was entitled Too Far From Texas
and you said that one was in abidance to Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and it did during the making of that film. So, what’s the current status on that one? Indefinitely shelved?
AMY: Oh, lord. You’re talking about a failed film. So when I most recently wrote about that film, I had to admit, me and Missy went through three films and they all three failed. Only one got edited and entered into a film festival. I would say we did everything wrong and the last film (Southern Fried) is the one I have the most regret for because we had some really good actors on it, as far a regional talent goes.
CHRIS: Now I see at IMDB that Letters to Daniel has you and Shelby Taylor Mullins both credited as playing yourself.
AMY: Okay, I think someone went through and added to my documentary, because in my documentary, I’m the narrator, but in the feature film that we’re putting together, there’s an actress who’s portraying me and that’s Shelby Taylor Mullins. I’m doing the voiceover. We usually don’t go that route, but Missy and I felt like it was the best marriage. The film is about our friendship and how we got through it. So, I’m narrating the letters and Shelby is portraying me on screen.
CHRIS: I see. Another actress I wanted to ask you about is the actress you cast in Too Far From Texas. You didn’t give her name but you said she was a diva who wouldn’t curse, citing “artistic choice.” That made me laugh. Do you know if this lady has she since gone on to achieve any degree of success?
No, not really (laughs), but Missy looked her up on Facebook, and you’ve got to understand, this girl is incredibly vain and shallow, and she got older. A story from that film is when we asked her to bring in “tomboy” clothes, she brought in shorts that had “Juicy”on the back of them (laughs). Missy and I were very young, we were both in our 20s and ….you just learn. I went to Dove Simens Film School, which is basically a two-day workshop, but we’ve learned. We know we’ve got to have a full crew. You can
do things cheaply and still get it done, but you don’t want to cut corners in certain places. And there was a storm that came through, we lost the power, and we didn’t have a generator. We later had an actress named Vicky Jones, who was actually a very good actress and very professional on that film and she flew herself in from Texas to be in that movie. She was very good. I loved her. She was totally professional. I really regret not being able to give her the kind of role that she had chops for. There was also an actor named Paul Reynolds, who was good. I give him a shout-out for the movie. He’s English, He was incredible with the limited work we had for him on that film.
I know you appear at many events and conventions where you’ve spoken on panels, and readers of your blog have messaged you, telling you how much you’ve writings have meant to them. Have you met many fans of your works who have particularly touched you?
AMY: Through this blog and through the book, I’ve built somewhat of a following here regionally and I’m known as the “Letters to Daniel Girl.” They may not know my name, but I have people come up to me and when I tell them what the book is about, they open up to me about their personal stories about themselves or their family members. And people do buy my other books. I do well at certain conventions. I do well at Indie Gathering in the small vendor room. I love Indie Gathering. It’s a wonderful event, and even the people who had to back out of Letters to Daniel, I know why they did ….maybe not at nine days out (laughs) from the actual shooting, but now that other opportunities have opened up to me with this project, it’s a lot easier to understand in retrospect.
CHRIS: I’d like to touch on a few of your other books, and get your comments on them. Set Fire to the Rain, which was written under your real name, is a short story about a former FBI Agent haunted by his
failure to save his fiancée’s life. Was that one of your first works?
AMY: My earliest works were No Ordinary Love and Gladiator. Set Fire to the Rain is very short. It’s only about 3,000 words long. It was as a way to build interest at Hydra Publications.
CHRIS: You have two books so far in the Gladiator Chronicles. Gladiator and Oracle, correct?
AMY: Yes. Gladiator didn’t come out until August of 2012, I was actually accepted by Hydra in December of 2011. I’ve written a lot in a very short amount of time.
CHRIS: Big Blue Nation, also written under your real name, is about a female Kentucky Wildcats basketball fan who falls in love with a sports journalist and when she does, her life is altered forever.
AMY: Yeah, that wasn’t one of my better ones. It was self-published. I’m not going to disavow it because you can see where my writing is growing at that point, but it’s definitely not publishing house worthy (laughs).
Are you a Wildcats fan?
AMY: Oh yeah. Seriously. There are no pro sports here in Kentucky, so like during the NCAA, Lexington and Louisville have the highest Nielsen rating for college basketball. So we’re kinda nuts when it comes to college basketball.
CHRIS: yes, I’ve experienced that because I lived in Nashville during the mid-90s, before the Huston Oilers moved there and became the Tennessee Titans. So, another notable novel of yours is Bounty Hunter, in which the main character is a half-human/half-alien, who’s survived a purge and is a bounty hunter, and is the best at what he does.
AMY: Yes, even though there’s a romantic relationship in there, and ….I have a biracial nephew, and I love my state, but they are very backwards in some ways, and I was upset about some things, and it came out in that form. That was my first print book with a publisher, so I was very excited about that book. It’s been an Amazon best seller. It hit #9 and that book led to me and Missy adapting a screenplay from it, the won us out first screenwriting competition.
CHRIS: So as we speak, what is your current project?
AMY: My current project is a book called Scars, and the female is dealing with some health issues and in her past, she murdered her abusive father, but everybody just thinks he just disappeared.
CHRIS: Well with that, I thank you again for contacting me and doing this interview, Amy. It’s been a pleasure. In closing, do you have any shout-outs to anyone?
AMY: Well ….to Three Bitches Press. There are five of us; Melissa Goodman, Pamela Turner, L. Andrew Cooper, Robin Blankenship, and myself. We are all authors and editors, and we also write screenplays. We’re on Facebook. Missy and I are especially psyched about that organization.
Amy’s books can be found at Amazon and Goodreads.
Amy can be found at Facebook and on Twitter.