An interview with Andrew C. Branham, author of ‘Anything for Amelia
I love first-hand accounts, and its what normally draws me to non-fiction. The fact that this is ‘feel-good’ doesn’t seem to fit with what the blurb says about your difficulties! Why did you decide to write the book?
I believe the ‘feel good’ was referring to the end result which was Amelia being adopted by DJ and I. I agree with you, however, that those
may not be the best choices of words. Our adoption process lasted 206 days. How do I know that exact number? Because every day was the most stressful day of my life. Because of the stress, I needed to find some way to vent. For me, writing at the end of each day was therapeutic and allowed the stress to escape my bo
dy. I never intended to write a book until, one day, I started reading through the journal and thought, “Wow, this is not only an interesting story, but we can help so many other people with their adoptions.” The topics in the book are very touchy. The ‘dark side’ of adoption has honestly never been discussed. I wanted people to know the full truth behind adoption in the hopes they fewer people would be taken advantage of. Also, seeing how badly Sandi treated her own kids, we wanted to do something to help all the foster care children in the United States. To do that, I am donating 20% of my profits from the book to the U.S. foster care system.
Andrew, you’re officially the author of this novel. How did DJ feel about the project?
DJ refuses to read the book because we both suffer from a form of PTSD as a result of our 206 day journey. For me, writing was an outlet but for DJ, he cannot bring himself to relive the events again. To him, reading the book would bring back memories that he does not want to relive in any way. He is proud of me for writing the book and is hopeful that it will help other adoptive couples to be more prepared. The other families that adopted from “Sandi” are also unable to bring themselves to read it.
There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write if the author writes fiction… Do you have another novel waiting to come out?
Funny you should ask that. My second book is done and it is actually a fiction novel. It is currently being edited for a release next summer. It is an apocalyptic story of a family’s struggle to survive in a world where the Earth has been exhausted of 95% of the fresh water. Many people have asked me to write a sequel to, Anything for Amelia. I will not rule that out, but thankfully we do not have much of a story to tell. Our life is pretty normal now and we are just happy being Dads. As it stands right now, a sequel would be very boring.
Do you have a dedicated writing space? How does it meet your writing needs?
During the adoption it was the hotel room every night. I would come back so stressed out and so angry that I would type for hours and not even realize how long I had been working. Now, I try to write outside. If I am out in nature, my writing is at its best. We own 40 acres of woods so it is very easy for me to get outside to write.
I can’t wait to get stuck in reading the book. I can’t imagine what the shenanigans that Sandi does might be, but I dread finding out. Should I be worried?
Honestly, even reading the book will not even bring you close to the intentional torture that Sandi put us through every single day for 206 days. The best writer in the world would struggle to put into words what she did to us. If anything the book is very understated. The only other people in the world that can relate to our experience are the other two families that adopted from her. She was just as bad to them as she was us (maybe worse).
As a gay woman, this book was one I never would have passed up. While my partner and I haven’t looked into adoption seriously, its something we might do eventually. Do you think anything about the system will improve?
It is our hope that this book will bring some of the issues to the forefront. 99% of the adoption laws are in place to protect the birth mother. While I agree that these laws are necessary, there are simply far too many loopholes. They need to be fixed and I hope our story gets enough attention so that the word gets out. Otherwise, nothing will change. Many have suggested that it should be a Lifetime movie. My agent is looking into that as we speak. If that were to happen, I think the laws would have to be fixed due to the publicity. If nothing else, there needs to be a dollar limit on how much money a birth mother could get (a cap). I hope the system improves and I really hope you two adopt. Having a child is the best gift you will ever receive.
I feel like many of the questions I want to ask now will be answered when I read the book, when it finally gets to Australia. Do you think that it’s going to be relevant to me despite being in another country?
Absolutely. I have had so many adoptive parents email me from all over the world. While they did not have extreme experiences like we did, we have had many tell us about the abuse of the system. No matter where you live, there are always both good and bad people.
Do you have a preference for ebook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.
I have a Kindle but I much prefer paper books. I feel the reader connects much more with the book in the paper format but that is just an opinion.
Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your book?
Social media is pretty much paramount to the success of any book now. I find it difficult to keep up because writing is not my day job. To be successful, most authors will have to have a huge social media presence on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, blogs, and even Tumblr. Social media allows you to really connect with your readers. I answer every email I receive and I always intend to that.
Finally, it looks like you are just getting into answering interview questions. Although I might not have the space here to ask you a lot more questions, is there something you wish I had asked? Or conversely, something you wish I hadn’t asked?
I wish more people would ask me how I feel about not being able to save Sandi’s three kids. I feel a tremendous amount of guilt for not being able to save them despite trying. As far as I know, they are still living in squalor, they are still being abused, and they are still not receiving an education. Even worse, they are still not being loved. I promised myself and those children that I would help them and I failed. I tried many times to get CPS to get involved but Sandi found a way to even manipulate them. I still have nightmares and dreams about those three precious kids. I am not giving up on helping them but I feel my options are very limited. I also feel very bad for Doug and the life he has lived.