Writer A.M. Homes on getting into writing

A.M. Homes

Writer A.M. (Amy) Homes is known for her controversial novels and unusual short stories. She grew up in an adoptive family, and didn’t meet her biological parents until she was 31. In Issue 30, she tells us the story of her past, present and plans for the future.

“As an adopted child, there’s always a sense that you could be given back if you do something unforgivable, and you are also curious to find out where exactly that line might be. Whether you want to think it or not, there’s some part of you that always thinks: Someone gave me up. I used to be very upset that I was given up before someone even had a chance to know me.

When I was younger I felt a kind of elusive yearning for something that was unattainable that I used to think others had. As an adult I realize it’s not exclusive to people who are adopted: that sense of longing, the need for something more profound, and the desire to be well known—that’s part of the universal human condition. And when you are adopted, you have a heightened sense of that.

The one true difficulty in my family besides their having to survive this loss of 
a child, was that my parents were very critical, very negative about what you can achieve in the world. There was no sense that I was capable of anything. Looking back, I realize that they were scared about many things and didn’t want to run the risk of failing. I always thought: I have to get out of here.

I literally wrote my way out of my home. 
I wrote my first novel, Jack, as a class assignment when I was 19. I was supposed to write a paper, but I asked the professor if I could write a novel instead. The professor said, ‘What makes you think you can write 
a novel?’ I said, ‘I don’t know but I know I can’t write a paper’.”

  • Read the rest of Amy’s story in Issue 30.

Interview Nina Siegal  Photography Bonnita Postma