|Amanda Gatton's early artwork|
Amanda Gatton was born in Columbus, Ohio where she lived until age eleven. At that time, she moved to her mother’s home town of Washington Court House, Ohio. Gatton had difficulties in early childhood with reading/writing/speech, but she always loved to draw. It was her main way to effectively express herself. By third grade, literacy finally “clicked,” when her beloved teacher, Mrs. Nugent spent recess time inside working with Amanda. After that, Gatton was rarely ever again seen without a book on her person.
She wanted to be a writer from her earliest memories of sharing ornately illustrated bedtime fairy tale books with her parents. However, once she reached eighteen and the age to attend college, she no longer considered her lifelong passion for creativity a practical career choice. Gatton obtained two college degrees relating to her work in the Food and Beverage industry, in which she worked for eighteen years. She even *almost* started her own restaurant at one point but backed out at the last moment, as she knew deep down she’d never be truly happy in that field.
After the birth of her two children, Amanda changed a lot and wanted to be a stay at home mom. At the same time, she was accustomed to being a wage earner, so she decided to take a crack at her buried dream of turning creativity into a career. Thirty days after receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Restaurant and Hospitality Management, she quit her restaurant career and never looked back. Less than a year later, a publisher signed Amanda’s first novel, which was the first part in a three-book series and has sold around the globe.
Amanda Gatton has had twenty-five titles published on Amazon under her name and her pen name, M Jet. Gatton also loves illustrating children’s books and creating creepy art and coloring pages.
Amanda Gatton Quirky Facts
· * She is “ambidextrous.” This means, she can write with both hands. However, it works best for her if she writes with both hands at the same time.
· * She considers her greatest talent to be: finding four leaf clover. As far back as she can recall, she could find them simply by glancing down at the ground, without even meaning too. Her father could do this as well.
· *When Amanda moved to a new town at the age of eleven, she decided to have people start calling her “Dawn,” which is her middle name. This is because, it turns out, “Amanda” is a very popular name (Amanda’s best friend is named Amanda), and she had been forever mixed up with all the other Amanda’s in her former school. Now a day, about half the people she knows call her “Amanda” and half call her “Dawn.” Her husband just calls her “Babe."
* *Amanda has an older brother named Brent, an older sister named Jennifer, and a younger brother named Zachary.
· * She has a son named Jacob and a daughter named Carmen. Jacob loves playing sports and laughing. Carmen enjoys reading books and being very funny which helps Jacob with his laughing efforts.
· * Her husband’s name is Adam. He is a guitar player and has a singing voice like summer nights.
· * Amanda has a mom and a dad, along with an amazing step mom and step dad! Very lucky to have an extra set of awesome parents and all parents still healthy, going strong, and making memories full of laughter.
· * Amanda loves cats and magic.
· * And crafts. And art. And trees, outside, bare feet, and singing. And laughing. Duh. Plus, scary stuff… BOO! And HALLOWEEN!!!
· * Books have been one of the most special things about Amanda’s whole life.
· * Amanda often got in trouble for drawing on her toys and was not supposed to. However, in her very most favorite books, because she loved to add to the illustrations, her dad would sometimes let her color because he couldn’t help but support her passion. Then, her mom kept all those books and made sure they returned to Amanda when she was a grownup. Her dad kept her first ever box of 64 Crayola Crayons (with sharpener!!!) and gave it back to her later in life for her to color with her kids.
· * Amanda loved school and college. She loved a great many of her teachers and was lucky to have many who were inspirational and motivational to her. Her favorite teacher was her college professor Bill Horne, who allowed Amanda to work on his political campaign for State Representative.
· * Amanda talks to ghosts.
· * She is always cold and she will always be made very happy by gifts of socks and/or gloves, and most especially, blankets.
· *Amanda plays piano and trumpet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What inspired you to write?
My inspiration to write has come from many places. The biggest is undoubtedly that my parents are both avid readers and spent so much of my childhood reading books to me. I LOVED the ornately illustrated intricately woven fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Those types of stories trigger my imagination. Back then, there were a few Disney movies, but not as many, so I was told the original fairy tales, authored by the likes of Brother’s Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. Some don’t realize, those original stories were quite creepy. Some were outwardly horrifying. So, not only did it spark my creativity, but it originated my love of all things scary and Gothic.
Also, having had some difficulties in the past with reading and writing, I loved art, as well, to express myself. Additionally, when speaking, I tended to stutter (still do if I am nervous and don’t concentrate VERY hard) and so once I did learn to write, I found that to be a more comfortable form of communication. I am MUCH better at getting a point across or telling a story with the written word, then if we were speaking face to face. These two forms of expression naturally flowed together for me and I always knew in my heart I would one day write and illustrate books.
I look at my life in terms of moments that stand out rather than big events. For instance, I don’t specifically recall a lot of holidays past. But I remember one Thanksgiving of my childhood when it was unseasonably warm and I went outdoors to play with neighborhood kids. Twilight approached, I sat in the grass, enjoyed the fading sun on my face and felt blissful… I don’t remember much of elementary school at all. But I recall spending recess with my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Nugent, many days, where she patiently helped me read. When reading clicked, I remember the moment, and I remember her sweet face and how happy she was for me. In ten years, I doubt I’ll recall the hours I spent glued to the TV screen on election night 2016. But I will surely remember four a.m., seated on the couch, my knees curled to my chest, chewing on a knuckle and the hot tears I wept. The little moments are what make great writing, and so a person who hangs on to the little moments makes a great writer.
Where do you get your ideas?
I am a person who gets ideas from pretty much everywhere. It might be something that just simmers and grows in my mind for a very long time. It might be something major that inspires, like a real-life news story or current event. Or it might be something impossibly small like someone’s glittery autumn lawn ornament or a line from someone else’s book. Often a single sentence from a casual conversation will spark an incredible idea. In fact, that’s where my ideas most often come from.
I have a thick notebook full of ideas, and surely there are enough there to keep me writing for ten lifetimes. However, I’ve quit writing down my ideas on the advice of famous author, James Patterson who advises you never to write down ideas. If the idea is a good one, according to James, you’ll remember it. To me, that was a notion that made real sense.
However, I also enjoy writing from prompts that aren’t even my own ideas. I often exercise my “writing muscle” by picking one of the many writing prompts I’ve pinned on Pinterest and just free writing! For some reason, I enjoy being told what to write! I have even published one short story which was inspired entirely by a Pinterest writing prompt! Here is the prompt: After falling asleep during history class, a teen wakes up to find his school and town abandoned, for what looks like years.
The story that I wrote based on this prompt is a young adult horror story and it’s called I am Leviathan.
What was your first book?
My first published novel was called MaryContrary. I wrote it after I had counseling following the birth of my daughter and I struggled with postpartum depression. The councilor was a pastor from a local church and he also happened to have been both mine and my husband’s high school principal. He knew that I liked to write and create art and he suggested that I should write about the things that he and I had been talking about, as a form of therapy. Then, he encouraged, maybe I could even think about getting it published. During the counseling, he made the comment to me, “Are you sure Mary was real?” I had been talking to him about a childhood friend of mine, and it occurred to him that my child mind made her up. (It didn’t, she was real.) But, that thought inspired Mary Contrary. Then, that one novel became two, and then it turned into three! The series is called “The Nursery Rhyme Chronicles.” Though I had already submitted children’s books to publishers for several years and been rejected (probably close to five hundred times), when I finished Mary, had her edited and revised, and submitted… She was accepted by the very first publisher that I contacted!
*Note: These books contain adult content and are only meant for readers eighteen and older
What is your favorite book that you’ve written?
I recently had the pleasure of listening to an awesome author, also from my home town, give a speech. Her name is Margaret Peterson Haddix. I really like the answer that she gave to this question which is that her books are like her children and so she can’t really pick a favorite one. I think I’d have to agree with that statement. We get so wrapped up with our books, so INVOLVED in the universes in which our characters reside, it’s hard to pick a favorite. In fact, our characters are all so real in our minds, it’s almost like all the books are just one giant evolving story! However, thinking of it in terms of how I felt while writing various novels and stories, I’d have to say that I loved how I felt while I was writing book one of my series, “The Fairytale Diaries.” I was absolutely obsessed with that story and was SO excited every single minute of the period of time that it took me to write it and draw its pictures. Like a little kid!!! That book is called “No Happily Ever After.”
What is your favorite book by another author?
My favorite book as a child was Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. I read that series many times over. My favorite books as an adult are The Wayward Pines series books by Blake Crouch. Another big favorite of mine is "We Have Always Lived in the Castle," by Shirley Jackson.
What authors and artists have most inspired your work?
The most influential artists to me have been Ed Emberley and Tim Burton. In fact, I like to think of my art as a cross between those two. Ed Emberley was one of the earliest, and most powerful influences in my life. He creates memorable art and wants every single child to succeed at art. He makes drawing tutorial books to teach art to absolutely everyone who ever wanted to pick up a crayon. I love his artwork and his mindset. Ed draws pictures for a living. That stuck with me all my life and now I do that too!
Tim Burton creates art that can also be appealing to kids and I have always been drawn to his art and movies. When I draw caricatures of people, or "cartoon" versions of them, I like to use Tim Burton's "big eye" or pop surrealist style. He was one of my earliest "creepy" influences and I will never see a piece of Tim Burton art that I don't love.
Authors who've impacted me the most are Gillian Flynn and Blake Crouch. I honestly have a mile long list of books and authors I love, but those two are the biggest stand outs for me. Gillian Flynn is a master at creating characters that are SO flawed in her stories that there are practically NO good guys. And Blake Crouch creates atmospheric spooky settings that take my breath away. I definitely try to hear both their writing voices when I write myself!
What are you working on now?
Presently, as 2017 begins, I am working on a new book series of drawing books for children! I am also creating art for sales online and in galleries! Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to find out when and where I will be appearing this year!