Amber Garza has had a passion for the written word since she was a child, making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Coffee and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music and talks about her characters like they’re real people. She lives with her husband and two kids in Folsom, California, which is—no joke—home to another Amber Garza. She is currently working on her next novel.
When I Was You
When Kelly Medina gets a call from her son’s pediatrician to confirm her upcoming “well-baby” appointment, she thinks it’s a cruel mistake. Her son left for college a year ago, and Kelly has never felt so alone. But Kelly can’t stop thinking about the woman who shares her name. She can’t help looking for her: at the grocery store, at the gym, on social media. When Kelly just happens to bump into the single mother outside that pediatrician’s office, it’s simple curiosity getting the better of her.
Their unlikely friendship brings Kelly a renewed sense of purpose, taking care of this young woman and her adorable baby boy. But that friendship quickly turns to obsession, and when one Kelly disappears, the other one may know why.
I opened When I Was You expecting to just have a quick sneak peak…and couldn’t put it down all weekend. Exhilarating, page-turning, shocking, this is one of those rare psychological thrillers that really is the whole package.
Author’s Corner – Interview with Amber Garza
Thanks so much for being on Author’s Corner! Can you tell us one or two things you love doing or consider yourself really great at? Something interesting or quirky that lets readers get to know the person beneath the author.
I sing, and I can sort of play the piano. I also love swimming. I’m addicted to makeup, primarily lipstick. I literally cannot go to the store without picking one up. I have so many it drives my husband nuts. I spend way too much time playing around with different makeup looks and colors.
What was the very first thing—ever—that you can remember writing?
Early in my elementary school years (first or second grade), I used to make poetry books, stapling together construction paper. Each poem had a drawing with it, and many, many stickers.
What was your favorite childhood book?
Ramona the Brave was one I read over and over again. I also loved the Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew series.
Writing thrillers and mysteries is pretty intense. What do you like to do after a day of writing intense scenes?
Sit outside with my husband and chat over a glass of red wine.
Stranded on a tropical island, what would be the top three books you’d have with you?
Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman, Little Face by Sophie Hannah, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
What’s your writing schedule/habits? Any tricks to get the creative juices flowing? I write for at least several hours a day, sometimes more.
Working out – running, swimming laps – helps to get my creative juices flowing. If that doesn’t work, noodling around on the piano does. One trick that’s helpful if I’m stuck in my book, is to write something, anything, about my character. A story from their past, usually. It may or may not ever make it into the book, but it gets me in my character’s head and draws them out for me. Bonus: It enhances my knowledge of my character and I can pull from that as I move forward with the plot.
Writing When I Was You
Let’s talk about your book When I Was You. Can you tell my readers a little about it?
When I Was You is about lonely empty nester Kelly Medina, who becomes obsessed with a younger mom who bears her same name.
I absolutely loved When I Was You, it’s so juicy and twisty! Where did you come up with the idea?
Thank you so much! I actually came up with the idea for When I Was You over ten years ago. There’s another Amber Garza who lives in my town. We used to go to the same gym for a time, and I only know this because I would have to give my birthdate when I checked in, so they could differentiate between the two of us. We also went to the same doctor at one point. People who have met her say we look similar and both have friendly, bubbly personalities. We’ve never met, but I’ve often wondered about her. And that’s what gave me the idea about this book.
Describe When I Was You in three words.
Claustrophobic. Obsessive. Twisty.
When I Was You is your debut, correct? Can you tell us what you did when you found out you’d sold it to a publisher?
Technically, it’s not my debut. I have numerous indie titles, mostly in the young adult and romance genre. But this is my first adult thriller and my first to be picked up by one of the big 5 traditional publishers, so in that way it is my debut.
Selling to Harpercollins felt very surreal to me. I had been writing and seeking publication for 15 years prior to selling When I Was You. I have over 40 books written. There were definitely moments when I felt like this dream would never come to fruition. When it did, I cried, I screamed, I danced, I celebrated. I specifically remember I was alone at home the day after it sold, and I had music playing as I worked on my computer. And at one point, I jumped up and started dancing around the house, tears of joy streaming down my face. I still get choked up when I really think about it. Many days it seems too good to be true even now.
What do you think readers will love about When I Was You?
I think they will love the twists, the turns, and the suspense. I hope they will find themselves shocked a few times.
If you could choose an actress to play Kelly, who would it be?
This is a hard one for me. I don’t generally see my characters in a physical sense. I feel them. But I know that Kelly is in her early to mid-forties. She’s tough, a little jaded and critical, but also strong and loyal, compassionate. I could see someone strong and beautiful like Kerry Washington playing her. But I’m also a huge fan of the show Good Girls, and recently I’ve thought Christina Hendricks could make a good Kelly. She’s got the whole suburban mom thing down.
I love stories of motherhood and the emotions of being a woman, and you absolutely nailed this one. Was that intentional from the beginning or did it develop organically as you wrote?
I started writing When I Was You when my son was nineteen. I was struggling to come to terms with our new, changing relationship. In writing Kelly, I was able to explore all the emotions I was feeling about Eli pulling away from me, maturing and becoming his own person. And, also, some of the feelings I was wrestling with about my age – being a woman in her forties, still on a quest to find out who I was apart from my husband and children. As women, so much of our identity can be tied up with our children and husbands. And I wanted to explore some of that in this book.
What’s next for Amber Garza?
Are you working on a new book? Can you tell my readers a little about it, a blurb, potential release date, etc? Where did you get the idea?
Recently, I did turn in my second book to my editor, so yay! I don’t have a blurb or release date quite yet. But the working title is Where I Left Her. It’s the story of Whitney and her fifteen-year-old daughter Amelia. One evening, Whitney drops Amelia off at a friend’s house for a sleepover. From the car, she watches Amelia walk up to the front door, sees the friend let her in. The next day Whitney returns to the house to pick her daughter up but is greeted by an elderly woman who has no idea what she’s talking about.
Get In Touch
Amber loves connecting with readers. You can get in touch with her at: