When did you first decide to write Moon River?
I have always wanted to write about my childhood growing up in West Virginia. Moon River started as a memoir of my summers in West Virginia, but when I finished the first draft, and glancing down at over 500 pages of material, I realized that I needed to condense and narrow down on a plot. It was then that I decided to release the book as fiction and write about my friendship with a young boy I met on the school bus back in 1999.
You say that Moon River is inspired by real events. Are the characters in the book inspired by real people?
Absolutely. Aside from one composite character, who encompasses up to five people, all of the characters in Moon River are inspired by real people of my life. I come from a small town, so it is pretty easy for a Hundred native to pick up my book, read a few pages, and determine, “Oh! That’s supposed to be what’s-their-name!”
Do you have a favorite scene from Moon River?
I have many. However, if I had to pick only one, I would say when Abigail and Ryan return from four-wheeler riding with Audrey and Bradley. The two share an intimate moment where Ryan challenges Abigail to tackle her fears, when in reality her fear is being alone with him. It offers a glimpse into the mind of Abigail while highlighting the courageous, bold nature of Ryan. It is easy for me to see the two of them standing on Bear Run Road, mud and dirt on their clothes, gravel underneath their feet, and notice the connection between them.
What was the most difficult part about writing Moon River?
Finishing it. I did not want the book to end, to be quite honest. A part of me lived in that book, and I was terrified of writing those last few words, closing that part of my life. I think it took me a few months to write the last few sentences, even though I knew from the very beginning how Moon River would end.
Have you connected with any of your readers?
Yup! Through Goodreads, I learned that I had a reader all the way over in Ireland. My book is currently in the lap of another person in Australia. I always look forward to connecting with readers and listening to what they have to say about my book.
How long did it take you to finish writing Moon River?
Altogether, it took about four years. That does not include the time it took for me to find a publisher, which was another six to eight months.
What have you learned since writing Moon River?
I have learned to accept the fact that this is my first book, so it is going to include mistakes. It has not been very long since I released Moon River, and already, I understand my areas of improvement and will take action in polishing them in time for my second book. A friend recommended me a book on crafting prose, so I will give that book heavy consideration before finalizing my second book.
Speaking of second book, do you have an idea in mind?
You will hear it first—I have already signed a contract with an Alabama publisher to publish a collection of short stories, essays, and poems. Until now, only a small handful of people knew about this project. This book should be released at the end of this year or at the beginning of next year. This book is heavily inspired by my struggles with alcoholism, and it highlights the connection between blue-collar lifestyles and growing up in poverty in West Virginia.
You say you also write short stories, essays, and poems. Aside from your second book, do you have an idea of how you would like to continue with these side projects?
I keep at least fifteen or twenty submissions pending with literary journals. Even though I have released Moon River, and will be releasing another book in the future, I consider myself a poet more than anything. Writing poetry is my strength. I have also lived an exuberant life, so I have plenty of material to craft essays. I thank my crazy family and friends for that. A full list of my publications can be found at my website at www.amberdtran.com.
Do you stay active on social media?
I do! I have learned that both Twitter and Instagram are important resources for staying relevant with other writers. I do not tweet as often as I post on Instagram, but I do try to post at least once a day. My social media tag is @amberdtran. I am always open to meeting new people and exchanging contact information!
If we wanted to buy Moon River, from where could we purchase it?
Anything else you would like to share?
Just that I am eternally grateful for all of the support I have received from my family, my friends, coworkers, and total strangers. Thank you for believing in me and for giving Moon River a chance.