Ami McKay’s debut novel, The Birth House was a # 1 bestseller in Canada, winner of three CBA Libris Awards, nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and a book club favourite around the world. Her new novel. The Virgin Cure, is inspired by the life of her great- great grandmother, Dr. Sarah Fonda Mackintosh, a female physician in nineteenth century New York. Born and raised in Indiana, Ami now lives in Nova Scotia.
I was born and raised in rural Indiana. Between cornfields and Interstate-65 I learned to tell tall tales, play the piano and drive a yellow 1972 VW Super-Beetle.
After an undergraduate degree in Music Education and graduate studies in musicology at Indiana State University, I moved to Chicago to teach music at an inner city high school for the arts.
While my days were focused on teaching music, I spent most of my nights filling notebooks and journals with short stories and ideas for novels. Trying to make my way in the Windy city as the single mother of a two-year-old, I kept my words to myself, having decided that a career in writing would have to wait. In the meantime, I kept a copy of a Time magazine article about Toni Morrison (along with my notebooks) hidden under my bed. I read the article whenever I felt down, and drew a large red circle around her recollection of her child spitting up on the manuscript of her first novel.
In 2000, I moved to Scots Bay, Nova Scotia (For the love of a good Canadian man.) The prolonged wait for my residency papers to be processed gave me plenty of time to embrace the writing life. (Thank-You Immigration Canada) After much prodding from my partner, I agreed to start sending my writing out into the world. In an effort to start small, I chose the year 2000 as ‘the year of writing thank-you notes to people I don’t know.’ My first attempt, led to an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Once people stopped looking at me like, “haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”, I took bigger steps towards the writing life. A summer workshop on “Writing for Radio” opened new doors and the opportunity to combine my love of music and sound with my passion for writing. This experience led to writing and producing documentaries for CBC radio as well as other freelance assignments. In 2003, an apprenticeship in the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia’s mentorship program gave me the excuse I needed to complete a first draft of The Birth House.
Now, every day is a writing day. There are still mounds of laundry to be done and bedtime stories to be read, but it’s all worth it when there’s a notebook waiting…on my desk, on the kitchen table…under the bed.
Awards and Recognition
2009Robert Meritt Award (co-winner with Allen Cole) for Outstanding Sound Design or Original Score for the 2008 production of Jerome: The Historical Spectacle produced by Two Planks and Passion Theatre Company. Was also nominated for Outstanding New Play by a Nova Scotian Playwright that year.
2007 Evergreen Award. Presented by the Ontario Librarian’s Assoc.CBA Libris Award – Fiction Book of the YearCBA Libris Award – Author of the YearCBA Libris Award –Book Design of the Year (Kelly Hill) Booksellers’ Choice Award – AIBALong listed -International IMPAC Dublin Literary AwardShort list -Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction PrizeQuill and Quire Books of the YearToronto Star #1 Book of Original FictionReader’s Pick – Irish Times
See more at her website.