Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? To ask why writing is important to me is the same as asking why food is important or why oxygen is important. I need it to survive. I can't imagine a day without writing--even on the days I 'take off' I'm still writing in my head. I'm still examining characters, checking out new places, other books; it all pertains. Writers simply are. We either have the need to tell the story or we don't. And story is the most important of all. Yes, we have movies and other visual avenues to give us stories but they are usually only surface compared to books. Writing is important because books are important. Books are important because story is important, story is important because story is life.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? Not to jinx myself, but I don't get writer's block. I don't allow myself to. I'm a plotter (as opposed to a panster) and write detailed outlines before I start a book. Sometimes my outlines even have dialogue. But knowing the direction I'm going helps smooth out any snags I might encounter along the way. Is that to say that I've never had a story take on a life of its own? No, I've written detailed outlines, sometimes 30 pages long, only to have my characters run in a completely different direction. Sometimes you have to be flexible. Here's the thing though, you can't change your plan if you haven't made one.

What is your favorite time to write? I get up early and start writing before anyone else is up and awake. It helps me with distractions. At 5 am there's not many tweets or Facebook posts, or Snaps or Instagram [posts] that need to be looked at (like any one them need to be looked at). But I can focus better early in the morning. I also ferociously guard this time as my own. Which is especially important seeing as how I am not a morning person by nature.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? My agent--Mary Sue Seymour--once told me, "You're a writer. Write it." when encouraging me to try my hand at writing Amish romance. Funny thing is, up until her death, she didn't remember saying that to me. And yet they were words that changed my life. I am a writer and I can write it. Anything I set my mind to.

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? There are so many opportunities in today's market with self-publishing and changes in the traditional market. It seems that there's a place for everyone and every type of fiction out there. The popularity of audio books is growing. Podcasts can help authors reach a different audience and there seems to be endless marketing opportunities for new books and backlists alike. The hardest part is deciding what's next.

Amy Lillard's A Murder Between Pages is out November 24 with Poisoned Pen Press.