Amy Hutton scores two book deals

When television producer Amy Hutton decided she wanted to switch careers and become a writer, she went all in.

“I decided if I was going to follow my heart and give professional writing a shot, I should just go for it. Admittedly the next step seems a bit extreme. I sold my unit, quit my job and moved back into the family home. I knew if I was going to do it — try to write full-time — I had to commit, or it would fall away when I got too busy as it had in the past,” Amy told us.

After making such a decisive move, Amy knew she had to learn the craft of writing if she were to succeed. She liked the variety of courses on offer at the Australian Writers' Centre and she jumped in, learning the essentials of Fiction and Grammar, Plotting and Planning and how to Pitch Your Novel.

Fast forward a few years and Amy is now a published author, with her debut novel Sit, Stay, Love released in 2023 and the follow up Love From Scratch released in June 2024, both published by Simon & Schuster.

“To be honest, I still can’t believe it happened and keeps happening!”

A new beginning

When she quit her television career, Amy’s original plan had been to write freelance articles to support herself while she wrote fiction. She enrolled in Content Writing, which was the first time she had studied for years. 

“The more I learned, the more I realised I needed to learn, so taking courses just naturally became part of my development,” Amy says.

She next dove into the AWC’s fiction courses.

“The courses I chose to do were accessible and varied. There were some that were run online in a group situation over Zoom, and I loved those. I loved having the opportunity to discuss what we were learning, listen to others’ ideas and be inspired by them. Then there were the ‘at your own pace’ courses, which were fantastic because I could just jump into the study whenever I had the time. The courses on offer are varied, with fantastic materials and coaches,” Amy says.

Having previously worked in a creative environment, Amy knew she had to put herself out there and not be deterred by rejection. She had a few stories published in the Romance Writers of Australia anthologies, which kept her buoyed. And then came the call from Simon & Schuster.

“I was just starting the process of indie publishing my first manuscript, a paranormal rom-com/cosy mystery called Haunted Hearts,” Amy recalls. “I had pitched Sit, Stay, Love to Cassandra Di Bello of Simon & Schuster at the 2022 Romance Writers of Australia conference. About a week or so after the conference I received an email from Cass requesting a full manuscript.”

During the call, Cassandra offered Amy a contract. She immediately put her indie publishing plans on hold and threw herself into the process of editing and working with the publisher to make her manuscript the best it could be. And a few months later, she secured another contract for her second book, Love From Scratch.

More than puppy love

Amy’s first novel, Sit, Stay Love, is a friends-to-lovers rom-com that revolves around Sera, who owns a pet shelter, her bestie and local vet Toby, and Ethan James, a famous actor with a terrible fear of dogs.

“I think the story came from my love and experience with my own rescue dogs, Harry and Buffy, who both star in Sit, Stay, Love. I’m passionate about animal rescue and it was important to me that it wasn’t just the human characters in my story who found their happy-ever-after, but that the shelter animals did as well. I also wanted to write something local to the area I grew up in as well as an Australian story. I think it’s important to have stories in Australian voices, especially in the romance genre which is heavily populated with American voices,” Amy says.

Her follow-up novel, Love From Scratch, also features rescue animals.

“The cat may be based on my cat. Okay, he totally is,” Amy says. “He wasn’t the nicest of cats, but he was still pretty great, and he really made for a great three-dimensional animal character. Love from Scratch is an opposites-attract rom-com about a heart-throb actor, the grumpy woman who minds his beloved dog, and the cat that steals his heart.”

Amy treats her writing as a fulltime job, and she now has a slew of publications and awards to her name. 

“I go into my office in the morning and ideally will try to get about six-hours of work in – though that is sometimes peppered with social media commitments and other various aspects of the modern author life. I call myself a ‘plantser’ a hybrid pantser/plotter author. I start my story by the seat of my pants – a pantser – until at some stage, usually around 30k words, I step away and break the story and give myself at least a little bit of a plan to follow. I have a whole lot of story ideas floating around, some with titles and first pages written, some broken via a synopsis, some purely a two-line elevator pitch. I have no clue where any of the ideas come from. I think that’s why I pants the start of them, because they just download into me as I type.”

She’s currently editing her latest novel and writing the next one, and is then hoping to start on the second book in a different series. She’d also like to get Disneyland at some point. But her advice for other writers is simple:

“Do a vast array of courses. Learn everything. Don’t think being an author is just about writing a book, because it is so much more, and there is so much more to the craft of writing than you probably think there is. The more you learn, the better your writing will become, and the more you learn about all aspects of writing and the business of writing, the better you’ll be prepared for when you finally get that publishing deal call.”

Courses completed at AWC:

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