Beacon Hill author Amy Hutton (main image) has written a romance novel that is a quintessentially quirky Northern Beaches love story.

Released in bookstores today (Wednesday, 02 August), ‘Sit, Stay, Love’ (image below) involves a love triangle between Sera who runs a loss-making animal shelter which relies on the handsome male vet Toby, who seems stuck in the friendzone, and famous movie star Ethan, who needs to overcome his fear of dogs.

Amy Hutton

Meeting Amy Hutton recently at the picturesque Long Reef Golf Club at Collaroy, this correspondent conceded he was not the ideal reviewer for her work, but had found himself drawn in by the writing, particularly the dialogue, and compelled to turn just one more page.

“Dialogue is my favourite thing,” declared Ms Hutton.

With a professional background in the television industry, Ms Hutton found herself surrounded by artistic work, but unable to fully express her own creativity.

“I’m a TV promo producer in my other life. I don’t do that full-time anymore, I do writing full-time now.

“TV is high pressure, and it gets very busy, especially when you’re working at a network. It’s very reactionary, and you often don’t know what you’re walking into on any day.

“I was at Channel Nine for about six and a half years, and I found around year five, I looked around and realised I wasn’t doing any writing anymore. It had fallen away.

“One day, I was going through my files on the computer and found a story that I’d started five years ago. I didn’t even remember it. I read the first chapter and thought, ‘Wow, that’s actually not horrible’.

“I got a little bit obsessed about finishing that work. I kept thinking to myself, ‘I don’t feel like I can do that [writing] and do this other thing [TV] full-time. I couldn’t find the balance.

“So I started toying with the idea of actually quitting my job, selling my apartment in Dee Why, moving back into the family home and trying to write full-time. That’s what I did, and everybody thought I was insane,” laughed Ms Hutton.

Amy Hutton

Ms Hutton said the process of writing as a full-time author was a major transition.

“I actually found the initial period very difficult, and scary because everything that I had been thinking for years about career, self-worth and position was really thrown up into the air when I walked away from a very good, senior, well paid role.

“I just wanted to do it, and the idea would not go away. I probably thought about it for close to a year. Then I started verbalising it with friends and family. My mum loved the idea and stripped out my dad’s old office and repainted it all for me.

“I was very blessed to have a supportive family. The desire to write became something I could no longer ignore, it was keeping me awake at night. I just had to do it, it was so strong.

“I knew it was the right thing for me to do, and once that decision was made, and the apartment was on the market, I never had a doubt. ‘Sit, Stay, Love’ is my first published full-length novel,” shared Ms Hutton.

Amy Hutton - Sit, Stay, Love

Writing a novel is only one part of the journey. Although books can be self-published, financial success as an author generally relies on finding a publisher who can manage production and commercial distribution.

“The Australian Society of Authors run pitching throughout the year. It gets your face in front of a publisher, an editor, or an agent for three minutes to pitch your piece. Three minutes doesn’t sound like long, but when you’re used to working with 30 seconds on TV, three minutes is luxury.

“I have done a lot of pitching, and weirdly, I really enjoy it. Most people hate pitching. Why? You get to sit in front of someone who actually is really rooting for you. They want your book to be the book that they want, they want to hear that yours is the next big seller, they want you to be successful.

“You get to talk about the thing you love most to this person who really wants to hear about it, instead of your friend who wants you to stop talking about your book all the time. It’s a great experience, and you can say a lot in three minutes,” said Ms Hutton.

Amy Hutton

In typical rom-com fashion however, despite Ms Hutton liking to pitch her work, not everything went to plan when the moment came to present her work for seven minutes to Cassandra Di Bello, from global publishing giant Simon & Schuster at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference.

“My pitch the day before was a chef’s kiss. It was perfect. I had seven minutes to pitch to Cassandra, and I really screwed it up.

“I had little flash cards, but I lost my place. I got some kind of weird flop sweat thing happening. I was telling her in case she didn’t notice that I was dripping. She was lovely, but I walked out and knew it was a disaster.

“About two weeks after, I got an email from her requesting the manuscript. I was absolutely shocked. At the beginning of November [2022], she sent an email saying she loved it and was sending it out to more of her staff, and asked me what else I was working on. At the end of November, they came back with an offer, which was one of the best days of my life,” she recounted.

Not only does Amy Hutton live on the Northern Beaches, she chose it as the location for ‘Sit, Stay, Love’ because of the variety of settings it afforded her story.

“I had a thing in my head that I just wanted to write something based in Australia, and I had never read anything on the Northern Beaches. I wanted her [main character Sera] to be on a property. I wanted there to be a beach. We’re blessed on the Northern Beaches that we can have areas like Oxford Falls, which are bushland.

“We’re very lucky in that we have that kind of environment. So I can have a character that has a property that could have a sheep and a horse, but I could also have a movie star who has a house overlooking the beach. I could have those evocative images of the beach and the bush right next to each other, and I don’t know of anywhere else that’s really like that,” explained Ms Hutton.

Amy Hutton - Sit, Stay, Love

‘Sit, Stay, Love’ by Romance Author Amy Hutton is published by Simon & Schuster Australia and available in paperback (320 pages) at booksellers from today (Wednesday, 02 August).

Amy Hutton is hosting a book launch at Harry Hartog Bookseller, Shop 1246, Westfield Warringah Mall, Condamine Street, Brookvale, from 6.00pm Tuesday, 15 August. Members of the public interested in her work are welcome to register and attendance is free.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate, Amy Hutton, Natalie Alder Creative, Simon & Schuster

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