Interview: Amy Mclean, author and YouTuber
Amy Mclean is just 26 years old and has already published six books, her most recent 'We are Lucifer' was released in February.
We caught up with Amy to find out how it all started...
What are you doing, and why did you start this journey?
I am an author and film vlogger. My time is divided (not always equally) between writing novels and discussing movies and literature on YouTube.
I began YouTubing in 2010, and I’ve been writing, like most authors, ever since I could hold a pencil.
It wasn’t until I was at university though,that I knew this was something I wanted to do as a career.
Was there a light-bulb moment that encouraged you?
I don’t think there was one specific moment that encouraged me, but I do think that my degree (English Literature) played a paramount role in my discovering my identity and my destiny.
Why did you decide to go to university - was it a good decision?
I studied English Literature at the University of Sunderland, and I’ve never regretted my decision. I learned a lot not only about literature by about myself too, and I know I wouldn’t be the writer I am today had I not studied as I did.
If anybody is considering studying literature, whether at Sunderland or otherwise, I cannot recommend it enough.
Studying literature is so much more than reading books; it’s also about analysing the self and embarking on an unrivalled journey of self-discovery.
How did you make your writing happen?
The most challenging thing about being a writer is the fact that only you, the writer, can make it happen. It requires an incredible amount of self-discipline, and I won’t be the first author to admit to occasionally lacking in that!
I began by scribbling down a few ideas that I had for my first novel, and, with perseverance and research, it grew from there!
What obstacles have you faced?
Self-doubt is a prominent obstacle with writing. Writer’s block can hit, the muse can become invisible, and suddenly it feels like nobody likes your work and that your writing is not worthy of public consumption.
There’s one easy way to overcome this though: remember that you write only for yourself, not for anybody else. The artist doesn’t need an audience; a readership is a blessing, but never a necessity.
What are the best bits of what you do?
As a writer, I love the knowledge that comes with research, and the satisfaction that arrives after a successful day of writing!
As a film vlogger, I could never part with the interaction with other movie fans. It’s an invaluable source of friendship and industry insights.
They are both equally fantastic creative outlets, and I wouldn’t be able to part with either!
What’s the hardest part of what you do?
Sustaining a practical level of self-belief is horrifically challenging. It’s the most severe plight for any artist.
I think the most important thing to remember is that whenever you lack in confidence… every artist, every creator, every writer finds themselves in the same situation at one time or another.
Personally, I keep a framed photograph of Tim Burton, my ultimate muse, on my desk, so that I am able to receive inspiration, or failing that an escape, whenever that self-belief is weak.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you on this journey?
The worst thing is undoubtedly anonymous criticism. If somebody were to walk up to my face and tell me that they didn’t like my writing or my videos, then I can deal with that. It’s not acceptable, but I could shrug it off.
I absolutely loathe it though when somebody spreads hate behind the mask of the internet. Hate comments; hate tweets, libellous reviews that are fabricated entirely on - well, on what? Envy? Vindictiveness? Boredom?
Unjust negativity and hate is definitely the most difficult thing to overcome, and as you achieve more the level of hate only increases!
What advice would you offer to anyone starting on a similar path?
Don’t stop creating. Yes, find a vocation. Yes, study a course at university or college that could provide you with regular employment to fund your lifestyle while you create art as a hobby. But, don’t allow anything or anybody to get in your way.
Don’t worry about starting small; everybody has to start from somewhere, and, whether you display your artwork publicly or keep it locked away as your private secret, always stay true to your passion.
In this century, you cannot live on art alone, but you can try.
What advice would you give your 16 year old self?
When I turned sixteen, I had been receiving treatment for an eating disorder for quite a number of months. If I could go back to that time, I would tell myself that the mind is more important than the body.
Food is fuel, and it is impossible to write without allowing the mind the sustenance it requires to thrive.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope to keep writing and to constantly find inspiration in those who inspire me each day: Virginia Woolf, Daphne Du Maurier, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Burton, Emma Thompson…
I am keen to explore other genres with my fiction, and I’m currently dabbling with a screenplay or two too. Watch this space...!
Amy’s fun fact
I first developed my love of the arts when I was seven years old, at which point I was madly obsessed with Blue Peter.
Fun fact: in my teenage years I became the proud owner of not one but four Blue Peter badges. I’ve never been so proud!
Find out more about Amy's books at: www.mcleanamy.co.uk