In 2006, I found myself on the metro with Amy Stolls. She had been a colleague of mine for two years. I would see her in the halls and say hello, but that was the extent of our friendship. One afternoon at Metro Center, I made the train right as the doors were about to close and there’s Amy.
We all know how that goes.
You look up and see an acquaintance. You don’t really want to talk, but feel obliged to make conversation Within minutes, I was giving her my “woe is me” story about how I was over 30 and couldn’t find Mr. Right.
She proceeded to tell me about her love story, gave me hope and before I knew it, the train ride was over and I didn’t want to get off! That’s when I knew I had made a new friend and found an incredible storyteller.
Like many writers, Amy was a shy youngster (you would never guess that from her witty and outgoing personality) and found writing to be an easier way to communicate and be creative.
She started her journalism career right out of college. After working as a staff writer for a newsletter in the Big Apple, she moved to Boston and took a job as Editor-in-Chief of a newsletter on oil spills. Boston was followed by Seattle and then Amy decided to flee the West Coast for D.C., where she pursued an MFA in creative writing at American University.
Her first book, "Palms to the Ground" (FSG, 2005), would be her master’s thesis.
Amy’s latest novel is entitled "The Ninth Wife." The story follows Bess Gray, a 35-year-old woman who lives in Washington, D.C.
She meets Rory, the Irishman/musician of her dreams, and just before proposing, he confesses he’s been married eight times before! This news rattles Bess, so she sets off on a journey to interview Rory’s ex-wives.
“To make things a little more interesting, I gave her a few colorful traveling companions, like her gay neighbor, her bickering grandparents who’ve been married 65 years, and a dog named Stella. Oh, and a mannequin. A very pretty mannequin with an Afro” states Amy.
What inspires one to write a book about a guy who has a romantic track record on par with Elizabeth Taylor?
Amy says she remembers dating in her thirties and realizing the older one gets, the more baggage is brought to a relationship.
“A guy with eight marriages … now that’s baggage! The most fun I had in writing the novel was coming up with his character, making him problematic, of course, but also likeable and believable enough that a woman would seriously consider his ninth proposal.”
I’m happy to report that Amy is now happily married and due with baby number two at any moment! She and her husband moved into a Glover Park row house in 2004.
They love everything about the neighborhood from being able to bike downtown to the familial connection felt among neighbors. Amy says, her book "is mostly set in DC and in many ways is an homage to the city. I feel lucky to live here.”
I asked her how she balances motherhood with a writing career. She admits that she’ll probably have to briefly set writing aside as she welcomes a new baby into the family.
As for her son's review of mommy’s new book?
“Recently he picked up my novel, declared it “too heavy,” and chucked it down a flight of stairs.”
A toddler might want to chuck "The Ninth Wife" for Elmo, but I guarantee you will not.
"The Ninth Wife" is available at Barnes and Noble in Georgetown.