Amanda Cockrell

Selected Works

Young Adult Novel
Saints and soldiers and the Untied Church of Dog
The Hollywood blacklist and a delayed funeral
Historical novel of a Roman legion in Britain
The Horse Catchers trilogy
Mythological novel of the coming of the horse to the American Southwest
Volume 2 in The Horse Catchers trilogy
Volume 3 in The Horse Catchers trilogy
The Deer Dancers trilogy
Mythological novel of the beginning of art
Volume 2 in The Deer Dancers trilogy
Volume 3 in The Deer Dancers trilogy
Children's books
By my mother, Marian Cockrell, the story of an enchanted castle on the edge of Fairyland

What We Keep

Life imitates art, so watch out

August 2, 2013

Tags: writing, Pomegrante Seed, Hollins

No one can gauge the power of a story while they’re writing it. My mother once published a serial in the Saturday Evening Post that made her little sister notorious because everyone knew where she’d gotten her material. I believe it took monetary considerations and something to do with a set of rhinestone earrings to smooth that over.

My least financially successful novel has had the greatest effect on my life. I write this in a household that arrived straight from the pages of that book.

It was (and is, reissued through the Author’s Guild’s program) called Pomegranate Seed, and it was published by a small press which promptly went out of business. But I had set it in my home town, thinly disguised, and written into it the character of an old boyfriend, also thinly disguised. I gave my main character, Liza Jane, a herd of pugs, and wrote an earthquake into the plot. The boyfriend reappeared before the book was finished (we have been married over twenty years now), as did the earthquake (I felt bad about that). It took longer for the first pug to arrive, but the numbers shortly got out of hand, as these things do, and now there are four, snorting at me to indicate that it is dinner time. Liza Jane had five, and we wonder if we ought to set some sort of spell on the door to ward off another one.

Having just finished another summer of teaching writing at Hollins University to a fine bunch of young adult novelists, I wonder how to warn them, or whether I should. Life will find you anyway, I expect. If you write about it first you are probably just pulling some mysterious thread of knowledge out of the weave of the universe. So go ahead, tug on it. You don’t know what’s on the other end.


  1. August 11, 2013 8:42 PM EDT
    I'm sure you know, or suspect, that For the Heart's Treasure comes from what little I know of my mother's family. Eva is my aunt/mother thinly disguised, and Jack is her husband under a veneer. Maddy is my biological mother. I found the experience of writing the novel cathartic because I had never explored my family very closely. The plot is fiction; I knew precious little of their lives.

    No matter what happens to the book I will always be grateful for being blessed with finishing it. It is also a gift to my children who loved and were loved by their Eva/grandmother and Jack/grandfather. Writing is much more than telling a story.
    - Frederick Fuller, Official Cupbearer to cats Millicent and Cody.
  2. August 13, 2013 8:49 PM EDT
    Read "Pomegranate Seed"! It's wonderful
    - Liz
  3. September 2, 2013 5:33 PM EDT
    When he read the book, was the boyfriend pleased with his fictional self, or otherwise?
    - Mat Freeman
  4. September 3, 2013 10:10 AM EDT
    He was. We reunited while I was working on it and I had to put it away for two years until I could make the character be fictional again. But he had to okay it. I wouldn't have published it otherwise.
    - Amanda Cockrell

Chocolate novios for Day of the Dead

Noon Whistle at the Lizard Works

Back yard bottle tree

The last hurrah

Delia Sherman and Ruth Sanderson, summer Children's Lit faculty

Children's Lit faculty Brian Attebery and Ellen Kushner at the end-of-term party