First Stories, Uncategorized

A New First Stories Interview with Amanda Davis

I’m excited to welcome Amanda Davis back to First Stories as we celebrate the upcoming release of her new picture book, Moonlight Memories. Amanda and I decided to modify my standard set of questions a little, since she had already answered them on her previous appearance on my blog here.

Before we jump into our discussion, here’s Amanda’s brief bio:

Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator who uses her words and pictures to light up the world with kindness. She strives to empower younger generations to tell their own stories and offer children and adults an entryway into a world of discovery. She is the author of the award-winning picture book, 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag  (WorthyKids/Hachette Book Group, 2021), MOONLIGHT MEMORIES (SourceBooks/Worthy Kids 2023) and a yet to be announced forthcoming title. She is very involved in the PB Rising Stars program – highlighting the mentees that were selected in 2022. When she’s not busy creating, you can find her sipping tea, petting dogs, and exploring the natural wonders of The Bay State with her family and her rescue pup, Cora. Visit her online at

Me: Hello Amanda! A BIG welcome back to First Stories!

Amanda: Thanks for having me!

Me: I’ve put together a new round of questions for you before we dive into how you created Moonlight Memories. So, my first question for you is how many picture book manuscripts have you written to date?

Amanda: Hmmm….your question had me wondering the same so I dug back into my archives to uncover an accurate estimate. After some perusing through old files, I’d say I have about 25-30 drafts that are in various states of revision. As I dug back into the archive to count, it had me rereading an old draft that I now feel inspired to revisit. Thanks for that spark, Heather!

Me: Yes!! Finding buried treasure in the archives of file folders is every author’s dream! Fantastic! Looking back through that file of picture book drafts, what is one of your favorites that HASN’T been published? Yet…

Amanda: I have one that I’m working on right now that’s a mother-daughter adventure. I’m working on sketching out some illustrations for a dummy and would love to have this be my author-illustrator debut!

Me: That is so cool! And I am so impressed with all of you amazing artists who can illustrate your own work. You’ve been in the publishing world for a little while. What tips do you have for writers who are just starting out?

Amanda: If your goal is to get traditionally published, don’t be afraid to take the dive to start querying. Sometimes we can get caught up revising, revising, revising, and not ever take the leap to get our work out there. We could revise forever but there comes a point when you have to cross your fingers, and LET GO—into the universe, your story goes!

Me: That is SUCH great advice! It can be hard to send our hard work (art work) out into the world to be picked apart, but other people will never be blessed by your stories and art if you don’t share them. You launched your first picture book – 30,000 Stitches – in 2021. What did you learn from that process?

Amanda: Oh my, so much! This is hard to boil down. I’ll try to summarize several takeaways.

  • Self-promotion is hard, scary, and sometimes even awkward (ha!) but is also a necessary step in the process.
  • Be a helping hand. I’m so grateful for all the helping hands of friends and colleagues in the kidlit community. I’ll always be learning best practices from everyone and appreciate the continued support.  It’s a hard industry to navigate and I make sure to give back when I can.
  • Take care of yourself, always but especially when writing and sharing about difficult/essential topics.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your publishing team throughout the process. I definitely asked A LOT of questions to my editor and marketing team. I like to understand how things work and was especially curious during the process of 30,000 Stitches because it was the first time I went through it.  They know that about me now, ha!

Me: Great advice! Anything else you’d like to share about your writing journey?

Amanda: It took me ten years to get my first book traditionally published (30,000 Stitches). It was not the first story I had ever written and the deal came about with a good old-fashioned snail mail slush pile submission! Never give up, even when things get tough. It might take some time, but it WILL happen!

Me: Thank you so much for encouraging all of the writers out there, and for giving readers a glimpse into the long-suffering world of publishing! I would love to hear about your latest project! You have another picture book coming in June 2023 from Worthy Kids – MOONLIGHT MEMORIES! Spoiler alert – I’ve gotten to read it! And it is beautiful!! Could you share the inspiration behind this lovely book?

Amanda: Aww, thanks for those kind words, Heather. I’m excited for this one to enter the world but it’s also a bittersweet one for me. MOONLIGHT MEMORIES tells the story of a young girl who is dealing with the loss of her Mama and finds comfort and healing through creativity. The story is based on my own experience of losing my father when I was young and using art and writing as a tool to process and heal. Art and writing became my voice. A way to tell my story. I soon realized that my father would always live on through the memories I was capturing with my words and visuals. To this day, creativity brings me comfort and calm.

I hope MOONLIGHT MEMORIES encourages readers to reach out for support and find their own outlets to help process and heal from loss. I hope it brings comfort to readers (adult and child) as they remember the loved ones they’ve lost and serves as a reminder that we carry them with us always. I’m thrilled to work with the amazing team at WorthyKids again and partner with artist, Michelle Jing Chan, who brings the story to life through her stunning illustrations. MOONLIGHT MEMORIES releases on June 13th and signed copies are now available through my local bookstore, Buttonwood Books and Toys:

Thanks so much for having me back on the blog, Heather. It was great to catch up and share about my new book with readers!

Me: Wonderful to chat with you again, Amanda, and congratulations on a stunning, timely, important book!

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