Amy Sterling Casil's middle name is her mother's Christian or given name, and it is also an old family name - with Sterlings (female) going back several generations. She is a Southern California-based writer, and she writes many different kinds of things. She is also a college teacher, currently at Saddleback College, which has been her "home school" since 2000, and has also taught at Chapman, Los Angeles Pierce and Moorpark Colleges. She is known for very good student evaluations in the classroom, and even on "rate my professor.com". That wasn't always the case, and a negative student evaluation motivated her to develop many techniques and methods to be the best teacher she could be - she never "teaches the same class twice," but DOES teach the same subjects. She is a very student-oriented teacher and her main goal is to help students achieve the best writing skills possible.
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Amy Casil was interested in writing since age six or so, when she wrote, illustrated and stapled her first "book," which was called "Freddy the Freindly Butterfly". Misspelling included - hey! She also reversed her b's and d's for . . . a long long time. Just think what she did to her best friend Cherly's name, or . . . well, it was her girlfriend who spent all of craft class woodburning "I love you BRAIN" for her boyfriend "Brian". It's those several week-long mistakes like that, that really hurt.
Amy's published somewhere around 23 books and has been (hold breath) PAID FOR 'EM! 70% of these books are nonfiction titles for Rosen Publications, an educational publisher. She also worked for McGraw-Hill from 2003-2005, writing hundreds of thousands of words that are in children's texts and workbooks. She has published dozens of short stories, a few poems, a crudload of articles, "critical essays," one short fiction and poetry collection, and three novels (find two! Ha! Some people have . . . to their great detriment). She has also provided illustrations for about 100 book covers, and most recently, did the Book View Cafe logo, web page and blog header.
Amy is a 1983 graduate of Scripps College in Claremont, California, with two BA's (a double major) in British/American Literature and Studio Art. While at Scripps, she furthered her writing ambitions by working as an intern at the Los Angeles Times Book Review, while one of her first bosses, Art Seidenbaum, taught her the majority of what she knows about work ethics and personal responsibility, as well as reinforced her love of books, writing and writers. After electing not to accept the Millard Sheets Scholarship to attend Claremont Graduate School (in art), and not accepting admission to UC Irvine's graduate writing program, Amy returned home to Redlands, California, where she proceeded to apply for and work at a series of jobs that are pretty funny today, in hindsight. She met and married Michael Casil, while working at one of these jobs, one which became "news announcer" at KUOR, the University of Redlands radio station. With the support and encouragement of Mike and her family, she applied for, and barely made admission to the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' workshop at MSU.
So, her first introduction to the "sci fi" community was at Clarion. A "literary" writer, whose first real story was that Clarion admission story, she applied what has since become a "tried and true" formula: she combined an old Star Trek episode with Paul Bowles' "A Distant Episode," thus creating results that can only be termed as "special." As in, "special ed".
After writing - horror stories - horror was so popular in the early 80's, remember? Like, Amy was thinking "just like Stephen King!" You can all see how many young female horror writers came up to be bestselling horror writers from that generation, can't you? There's uh, Anne Rice. And . . . Anne Rice. And then there's . . . Anne Rice.
No Anne Rice, Amy collected at least a dozen rejections from The Horror Show. This was deserved, as one of these was about the terrifying menehune (DO click - he looks like the early 90's dancing internet baby!). Yet another was, as Dave Wolverton so succinctly described at one of the Writers of the Future workshops - the "pudding that came alive in the refrigerator" story. Then, inspired by her Clarion friend Tim Swain, who is missing, deceased, or who's gotten a life (pick one), she sent a story to Twilight Zone, which was scary as all hell. You see, Twilight Zone did not ENCOURAGE submissions. You had to actually READ the magazine, and glean the editorial staff and submission address. This was the menehune story - and it was rejected with a handwritten card, written in crabbed handwriting, by the assistant editor - Mr. Alan Rodgers.
OK, so by this time, it was like 1986. And so Amy got that card, totally misinterpreted it (Alan reports he wrote maybe TEN of those in his whole time at TZ), put it in her copy of In Praise of What Persists, by Stephen Berg, given to her by Art Seidenbaum, and quit writing for eight years.
Then, she started again, and the "start" was reading Mars by Ben Bova, and Mike Casil's old copy of Man-Kzin Wars. Her approach at this time was to cross "dolphins" with yet another old Star Trek episode, which resulted in a really nice rejection letter from . . . Stan Schmidt. About eight months later, as she followed the formula of "get up every morning and write from 5:00 to 7:00 a.m." by which time her daughter Meredith was awake, she was sweeping the garage one day, and with each sweep, this retarded little song came into her head. "The Ballad of Jonny Punkinhead." Yes, that story began with a garage-sweeping song. This "verbal" or musical inspiration method continued to be her main story idea source for quite some time. And after the drama and suffering of the Writers of the Future contest, a bunch of crap-ass rejections for really good stuff, and the rejecto-presto "Jonny Punkinhead"/F & SF/WoTF New Writers Issue drama . . . well, there ya go.
As they say, "Bob's your uncle," and though she did not write from January, 2005 to January, 2006 - because she could not, after the death of her baby Anthony, now, she has completed a fantasy novel called The Fire Gryphon, and has committed to using the skills obtained over a lifetime of successful nonprofit executive and fundraising experience (that's the other part of her life - in addition to volunteering for most causes known on the planet) - to what she's wanted to do since she was six years old: telling stories. Who knows? Maybe Freddie will return. The butterfly - not the insane hellbound knife-wielding movie slasher.