“Into An Unknown Landscape”

Author Interview
Amy Smiley Author Interview

Hiking Underground is “an exquisite meditation on the interplay of nurture, connection, and creativity.” What inspired you to write this book?

Each time I opened the page on the computer screen to write this novel it was like passing through a window into an unknown landscape—in nature, in art, in thought. This adventure was in and of itself inspiring, bringing with it explorations in language and silence. I was also under the spell of Yeats’s essay on Magic, which moved me to fathom consciousness as a shared phenomenon, rather than individually-bound. The narrative of Hiking Underground weaves its way in and out of the hearts and minds of three characters whose relationships are propitious for this kind of shared experience. I was traveling in this mental space when I wrote the story, inspired by questions of where do thoughts begin and end, and how are self and other independent of each other yet mingled.

Your characters are intriguing and well-developed. What were some driving ideals behind your characters’ development?

I was interested in the tensions between symbiosis and separation in general, and which I explored in the novel within the triad of mother, child, and babysitter. With caring at the core of this triad, it made it possible to work within a relational context that allowed for powerful intuitive connection. The fact that both mother and babysitter are visual artists counted tremendously for me as I wished to run a parallel between the canvas and relationships as fertile ground for creativity. I wanted these characters to have a kind of freedom of expression that would take them to compelling places in their imaginations and in their experience of the world.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The title of the novel, Hiking Underground, speaks to theme most obviously. In the first place, the activity of hiking as a way of discovering the natural world is near and dear to my heart. I’ve spent many summers in Acadia National Park and practically sleep with my hiking boots on. Those climbs lift me into a kind of reverie that becomes synonymous with hiking itself. There are important scenes in the novel that take place in this spirit on Mount Desert Island. I also wanted to introduce into the urban landscape of the book such possibilities of reverie. The free drift of images, emotions, thoughts, and ideas allows for the expansion of the characters in their understanding of themselves. Secondly, the underground component of hiking refers to the hidden world of the subconscious and all that wandering through it can reveal through dreams. This kind of underground is important to me as a psychotherapist in the exploration of the forces that shape our innermost desires and fears.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book will comprise many very short stories/prose pieces, which will be interrelated but not within a typical narrative arc. I’m in the dream phase of it and will start writing soon. I don’t expect the book to be ready for another few years.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Nothing happens, and everything happens, in this seemingly quiet novel where Amy Smiley takes us deep into the emotional bond between three people-a mother, her son, and his babysitter-and follows each of them through a period of growth, from one spring to the next, until they are able to step out into the world more freely, with nature as their guide.

With its subtle focus on the inner life, Amy Smiley’s prose conveys the beneficial power of reverie, teaching us that we need more of it, to help us each find meaning in our lives. Written under the star of motherhood, Hiking Underground is an exquisite meditation on the interplay of nurture, connection, and creativity.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on January 26, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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