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Author Interview,  Giveaway,  Hope-filled Fiction

Amanda Wen: Interracial Relationships, Alzheimers, Balance, a Giveaway & More

I’m thrilled to have Amanda Wen back on the blog this week to talk about her upcoming split-time fiction release, The Songs That Could Have Been. Be sure to comment on her interview by June 21 for a chance to win a signed paperback copy!

So glad to have you this week, Amanda. Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

I am a native Kansan (fifth-generation) who returned to my home state after 12 years saying I’d never live in Kansas again. When I’m not writing, I enjoy watching football (Sooners and Patriots for life), delighting in thunderstorms, drinking coffee, running (after 34 years as a committed non-athlete), snuggling with my cat, and documenting the witticisms of my Boston-born Chinese-American husband and my three hilarious Wenlets (my boys are 13 and 11, and my girl is 9).

In my spare time, I’m a professional musician; I am a freelance cellist with two degrees in cello performance, and but my day job is actually as a pianist, accompanying choirs for a local middle school and high school.

You have a full and busy life. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer, a musician, and a princess. Hey, two out of three ain’t bad!

Well, you’re a daughter of The King, so you scored all three! Are any of your stories inspired by true events or personal history?

Pretty much all my stories are inspired by something in my background or my family, and The Songs That Could Have Been is no exception. Back in the 1960s, a relative on my father’s side fell in love with someone of another race, but both families actively opposed the match. The romance ultimately failed, and my father’s cousin never married.

This story intrigued me for many reasons, not least because I’m half of an interracial couple (my husband is the American-born son of Chinese immigrants), and both sides of our family welcomed our marriage with open arms. I’m sad that this wasn’t always the case, and I wanted to explore that in fiction. 

I applaud you for tackling this important topic. What does a typical day in your writing life look like?

On a typical day, I split my time between writing and music (kind of appropriate for a split-time author!). In the mornings after I get all the Wenlets off to school, I generally write for an hour or two, then it’s time to put on my Musician Hat and go play for the choirs. After work and the post-school chaos that is being a mom of three, I try to sneak in another hour or two, especially if I’m in Drafting Mode or on deadline with revisions. I’m also usually able to snag some writing time on weekends, and this summer when school’s out, you can guarantee I’ll be putting in as much writing time as humanly possible. 

Sounds like you’ve worked out a great system. Which character in The Songs That Could Have Been was easiest for you to write and why? Which character presented the biggest challenge?

For me, contemporary heroine Lauren was the easiest to write. She was a key supporting character in Roots of Wood and Stone, so I felt like I already knew her pretty well, and I was eager to give her a story of her own. 

As for the most difficult, past heroine Rosie was probably my biggest challenge, but not because of the past timeline! Rosie, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, appears in both the contemporary and historical stories, and her contemporary scenes are written in first-person, at her insistence. Entering the mind of someone with Alzheimer’s was a unique but poignant challenge, and I sincerely hope I did her justice. 

That does sound challenging. What is one of your favorite quotes from The Songs That Could Have Been?

The past timeline centers around a friendship-turned-more between Rosie and Ephraim James, a Black student who she stands next to in choir. A talented pianist, Ephraim practices in the choir room after school, and that’s the setting for their blossoming relationship, as well as this observation from Rosie.

“White keys. Black keys. Ebony and ivory. A piano wouldn’t be a piano without both. So why couldn’t people get along like piano keys did?”

Oh, how I love that! How do you balance writing with your other life and family obligations?

While a perfect day for me involves doing everything I love—music, writing, and spending time with family—in reality, “balance” means shifting priorities depending on what’s most pressing at the time. So during busy music seasons, like when my choirs are getting ready for contest or there are lots of Christmas gigs on cello, writing gets put on the back burner. Similarly, when I’m deep in drafting mode or on deadline with revisions, I don’t take on quite so much on the music side. And sometimes I make an intentional choice to take a week or two off from all professional pursuits and focus on my family.

It’s tricky, but both music and writing are deeply wired into my DNA, and both pursuits feed each other. I pray for a lot of wisdom in managing my schedule and trusting God to enable me to do what he’s called me to do. 

Also? My house is usually a mess.

Seems you’ve learned what’s most important. What’s next from you?

O Little Town, a Christmas romance novella collection featuring stories from Deborah Raney, Janyre Tromp, and me will release from Kregel this fall! Each of our novellas take place in different eras (mine in the 1910s, Janyre’s in the 1940s, and Deb’s in the present day) in the same small town in Michigan. It’s been a blast to collaborate with Janyre and Deb, and I cannot wait to introduce you to childhood rivals-turned-colleagues Frederick and Emma in my contribution, “Hopes and Fears.”

As for the rest of the Sedgwick County Chronicles series, book 3 (which is currently untitled) is being written as we speak and will release from Kregel in Fall 2023. After that, I’m planning a slightly more suspenseful split-time series revolving around some local unsolved mysteries. As my agent likes to say, stay tuned…

Your upcoming projects sound so good! I can’t wait to read more from you. Thanks so much for sharing on the blog, Amanda. God bless you as you continue to write for Him.

Join the conversation. Do you enjoy reading split-time fiction? What about stories with diverse characters? What questions or comments do you have for Amanda?

Be sure to comment by June 21 for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of The Songs That Could Have Been!

The Songs That Could Have Been by Amanda Wen

Click the book cover for Amazon preorder link.

Amanda’s local bookstore also has the book for sale and it’s in stock now for only $8! They’ll ship anywhere.

Two couples in love. Two sets of impossible circumstances. One powerful God of grace.

Book Cover

After a tailspin in her late teens, Lauren Anderson’s life is finally back on track. Her battle with bulimia is under control, her career is taking off, and she’s surrounded by a loving family. Then a chance meeting with Carter Douglas, her first love and the man who broke her heart, leads to old feelings returning with new strength. And suddenly her well-balanced world is thrown off kilter.

Now a TV meteorologist, Carter is determined to make amends with Lauren. After all, she still owns his heart. But the reasons they broke up aren’t lost–and those old demons are forcing him toward the same decision he faced in the past. He isn’t sure he’s courageous enough to make a different choice this time around.

When Lauren’s elderly grandmother, Rosie, begins talking about a man named Ephraim–a name her family has never heard before–a fascinating and forbidden past love comes to light. As Lauren and Carter work to uncover the untold stories of Rosie’s past in 1950s Wichita, they embark on a journey of forgiveness and second chances that will change their lives–and Rosie’s–forever. Along the way they’ll learn that God wastes nothing, his timing is perfect, and nothing is beyond his grace and redemption.

Amanda Wen Head Shot

Amanda Wen’s debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, released to both reader and critical acclaim, including a Christy Award nomination for First Novel. She also placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others.

In addition to her writing, Amanda is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team, as well as serving as a choral accompanist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.

Connect with Amanda: Website/Newsletter Sign-up / Facebook / Instagram

Please share Amanda’s interview on social media to help spread the word about her new book!

If you missed last week’s interview with Rachel Fordham, find it here.

As a Jesus girl for more than thirty years, Deena Adams understands how important hope is to daily life, which fuels her passion to inspire others through hope-filled fiction based on true to life stories. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and is a multi-award-winning writer, an active ACFW member, and ACFW Virginia president. Connect with Deena through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  • Barbara Britton

    A great interview Amanda and Deena. Congratulations on the new book, Amanda. How sad that two people in love were denied a chance at happiness. All the best on your release.

    • Deena Adams

      Thanks, Barbara. I totally agree with you. Rosie and Ephraim’s story was certainly sad, but Amanda did a wonderful job brining hope into it.

    • Amanda Wen

      Thanks for stopping by, Barbara! It is definitely sad when people in love are kept apart due to circumstances beyond their control. That’s why it’s fun to write fiction, though… 😉

  • Lucy Reynolds

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful chance. I loved Roots of Wood and Stone. This sounds fabulous. Congratulations Amanda on your new release. Blessings

  • Heidi

    What a fantastic quote! Ebony and ivory. I enjoyed reading the interview and am amazed at how much Amanda has going on! I love how she kept it real by saying her house is usually a mess. 😁

  • Jeanette Davis

    Wow this sounds like a wonderful book! I wonder why we draw the lines we do. Like Rosie said ‘ Ebony and ivory..why can’t people get along like the keys of a piano?’ Roots of Wood and Stone as well as O Little Town…they also sound like books I could really get into . This was a great interview! Thank you Deena

  • Roxanne C.

    I enjoyed Amanda Wren’s debut, Roots of Wood and Stone, so much that I was sad to reach the end of the book. It was one of the first split-time fiction books that I had read and clinched it as one of my favorite genres.

    • Deena Adams

      Hi, Roxanne. split-time fiction has become a favorite genre of mine as well. It’s so fun to see the different timelines woven together. I know you’ll enjoy Amanda’s new book as much as the first! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Lexi

      I’ve never read anything from this author before but it sounds like such a good read with themes of redemption throughout. I’ll be adding books by this author to my TBR pile!
      I’m coming here from
      the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction FB group.

    • Amanda Wen

      Hi, Roxanne! I’m so thrilled you enjoyed Roots of Wood and Stone! Time-slip is my favorite genre by far; I love history and historical fiction, but I also love contemporary, and seeing them woven together is so much fun. It’s a lot of work when writing, but totally worth it. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Teresa+Moyer

    Oh I loved this quote!!!!! “White keys. Black keys. Ebony and ivory. A piano wouldn’t be a piano without both. So why couldn’t people get along like piano keys did?”

    I will definately get this book on my Amazon wish list to buy when I can!

  • Dave

    I’ve developed enough friendships with people other than my own race to appreciated inter-racial romance and would like to read this book.

    • Amanda Wen

      Thanks so much, Dave! My upbringing was admittedly pretty devoid of diversity, but being married to someone from another culture has been very eye-opening; I’ve loved learning about my husband’s heritage and seeing the world through a new perspective. I hope you enjoy the book!

  • Perrianne Askew

    I had no idea Amanda Wen was a talented musician as well as a wonderful author. I absolutely LOVED her debut! I look forward to reading The Somgs that Could have been. It sounds like she’s taken some hard subjects to tackle and deal with and doing it with the same finesse as her debut. Congrats on the new novel!

    • Amanda Wen

      Thank you so much, Avayd! I originally had Ephraim be a pianist to streamline my research (“write what you know,” as they say) but God had a much bigger plan for that plot decision!

    • Deena Adams

      Hi, Michelle. I love split-time novels too. We get the best of both the contemporary world and the historical. I love how they intersect, and Amanda does a fabulous job in The Songs That Could Have Been.

    • Amanda Wen

      Thanks so much, Michelle! Split time is my absolute favorite both to read and write! It’s a lot of work to write, but totally worth it. 🙂