Photo © Terrence McNally.
Amy Stewart is the award-winning author of six books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world, including four New York Times bestsellers, The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. Stewart's newest book, her first novel, Girl Waits with Gun, will be part of a trilogy set in northern New Jersey. She lives in Eureka, California, with her husband Scott Brown. They own an antiquarian bookstore called Eureka Books and tend a flock of unruly hens in their backyard.
What are you reading? What's on your nightstand?
Well, I'm on book tour right now, and I can barely even remember what my nightstand looks like, much less what's on it! But in my travel bag I have a few new novels that I've been looking forward to, including Stephanie Clifford's Everybody Rise, Patrick DeWitt's Undermajordomo Minor (his last book, The Sisters Brothers, is one of my all-time favorite books), and Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies.
Where do you go to get inspired?
To my desk! I don't believe in inspiration. I believe in sitting down and getting the work done. Inspiration's going to have to come to me, not the other way around. If you read Elizabeth Gilbert's new book Big Magic you'll find that she and I are just about in perfect agreement on this subject
What's something that surprised you recently (in a good way)?
There has been something that has surprised me on book tour. I'm surprised that people have so many interesting ideas about my characters. I'm working on the next book in the series now, and at almost every event I do, I end up taking notes from my readers.
Where do you write?
My office is in the attic of our house in Eureka, California. It's a wonderful big drafty old space with very thick redwood plank floors and exposed beams. I'm getting homesick just thinking about it!
What/who makes you laugh? Why?
My chickens make me laugh. They're very talkative, and at night when I go out to lock up the chicken coop, I always say good-night to them, and they pretty much say good night back to me. It took me a long time to figure this out, but if you talk to a chicken, she will talk right back to you. They're very sociable like that.
Favorite fictional character ever?
Harriet the Spy. What are you working on? I'm working on the next installment of the Kopp sisters' adventures! I know quite a bit about what they did over a 15 year period, and I really want to tell the rest of their true story. The second book will be out in September 2016.
"A sheer delight to read and based on actual events, this debut historical mystery packs the unexpected, the unconventional, and a serendipitous humor into every chapter. Details from the historical record are accurately portrayed by villains and good guys alike, and readers will cross their fingers for the further adventures of Constance and Sheriff Heath."
—Booklist, ***Starred Review***
"Stewart has spun a fine, historically astute novel . . . The sisters’ personalities flower under Stewart’s pen, contributing happy notes of comedy to a terrifying situation . . . I, for one, would like to see her return to wield them again in further installments."
—New York Times Book Review
"In the summer of 1914 in rural New Jersey, the lives of Constance Kopp and her sisters take a dramatic turn. Aided by the local sheriff, the Kopp sisters defend their home while Constance unravels a web of Kaufman family secrets and reckons with her own. In her engaging first novel, Stewart (The Drunken Botanist) draws from the true story of the Kopp sisters (Constance became one of the country's first female deputy sheriffs) and creates a welcome addition to the genre of the unconventional female sleuth. Colorful, well-drawn characters come to life on the page, and historical details are woven tightly into the narrative. The satisfying conclusion sets up an opening for future Constance Kopp novels. VERDICT Historical fiction fans and followers of Rhys Bowen's "Molly Murphy" mysteries and Victoria Thompson's "Gaslight Mystery" series will delight in the eccentric and feisty Kopp women."
"Hardened criminals are no match for pistol-packing spinster Constance Kopp and her redoubtable sisters in this hilarious and exciting period drama by bestseller Stewart (The Drunken Botanist)...A surprising Kopp family secret, a kidnapped baby, and other twists consistently ratchet up the stakes throughout, resulting in an exhilarating yarn."