Amanda Lovelace Talks to drink coffee with a ghost

Amanda Lovelace is a magical, poetic voice of our generation. She takes her pain and trauma and crafts collections that stir the soul and remind readers that it’s okay to be vulnerable. She is honest and transparent about the things that hurt, while also writing about the moments that lead to healing. 


In her latest collection to drink coffee with a ghost, Lovelace delves deeper into the relationship she had with her mother and all the complicated dynamics that played a part in her story. Readers will be moved by the depth of this collection as it dives into a discussion about trauma and the tumultuous journey of healing. Lovelace’s work is personal, profound, and moving, connecting with readers everywhere with its emotional relatability. 


I am excited to have gotten the chance to talk with Amanda about her creative process for bringing to drink coffee with a ghost to life. 


Liz Newman: Congratulations on the release of to drink coffee with a ghost. This collection is so hauntingly beautiful. I was so moved by the honesty and the raw emotion as you discussed your relationship with your mom. Was it hard to write this collection? How was the writing process different for this book than some of your others?


Amanda Lovelace: Thank you! to drink coffee with a ghost was easily the most difficult poetry collection I’ve written to date. I have, of course, touched upon my complicated relationship with my mother before—especially in my very first collection, the princess saves herself in this one—but the narrative in ghost is much more up close and personal. I had to dig deep into my memories, into my trauma, and unearth things I never wanted to face again. It was, however, necessary for healing and personal growth.


LN: The artwork in the collection is incredible! Were the illustrations inspired by the poems or vice-versa? How did you decide which illustrations to include? 


AL: Yes—Munise Sertel is incredibly talented! She always seems to understand my vision better than I do. It was an honor to work with her on both installments in the ‘things that h(a)unt’ duology, to make monsters out of girls and to drink coffee with a ghost. With both collections, I began writing and then figured out the illustrations as I went. Choosing which ones received an accompanying illustration wasn’t always easy, but ultimately, I decided that certain parts of the story demanded to be heard a little louder than the others. 


The illustrations encourage the reader to pause for a few seconds before turning to the next page—to reflect, to take it all in before continuing the journey. They were intended to add depth to the storytelling experience, but you’ll have to let me know if it worked out as well as I hope!


LN: If you could sit down and have coffee with another poet, dead or alive, who would it be and why? 


AL: Emily Dickinson, my biggest writing inspiration, who wasn’t afraid to write softly about her garden or explore her obsession with death.


LN: You have found a way to take trauma and turn it into art over the course of so many stunning poetry collections. How long have you been writing and when did you first share your work with the world?


AL: Ever since I can remember! It started with a passion for music. I would obsessively transcribe the lyrics to my favorite songs, which quickly turned into a burning desire to start writing my own. Somewhere down the line, I realized that I wasn’t so much writing songs as I was writing poems, and I couldn’t seem to stop. It was, by far, my biggest catharsis. 


Beginning in my preteen years, I shared my work online (before social media, I had to do it via online diaries and miscellaneous forums!) and even gathered up the courage to read original pieces at a local seaside café. Eventually, I majored in English Literature while I was in college, where I studied poetry across the centuries and decided what kind of writer I wanted to be. It took me a long time to find my voice, but somewhere along the way, I did!


LN:  What is one of your personal favorite poems from to drink coffee with a ghost? Tell us about how that poem came to be. 


AL: I have so many favorites, but I think my ultimate fave would have to be “the cleansing,” the closing poem to the ghost-daughter section. In it, I demand that the memory—or the ghost—of my mother stop holding me back from living my best future. It may seem like it’s just a poem or a bit of embellished storytelling, but it was something that truly happened, and it was incredibly empowering to take myself back in such a loud, visceral, and messy way.


“Books have always been a means of escapism for me and writing my own only takes that one step further.”


LN: Who has influenced your writing the most? 


AL: Next in line after Emily Dickinson is the brilliant and magical JK Rowling.<3 


LN:  I think it is beautiful how you confront your ghosts in this collection and how the reader travels alongside you as you move toward healing. What role has poetry played in your individual story? How has it changed you and shaped you into who you are today? 


AL: I mentioned previously that poetry was very cathartic for me, and it still is. Growing up, I had to deal with a toxic home situation as well as my struggle with my own mental health issues, the latter of which never truly ends. Books have always been a means of escapism for me and writing my own only takes that one step further. Spending time in fantasy worlds—especially ones of my own creation—help me cope with life. It gives me a place to breathe and to imagine before I’m ready to face the pain head-on. It gives me the power to reclaim my story, to retell it however I see fit.


“When all else fails, believe in yourself.”


LN: What is one thing readers might not know about to drink coffee with a ghost and how it came to be? 


AL: It may not have existed at all if I hadn’t decided to put monsters on Wattpad. Originally, I offered it as a free chapbook as a sort of “thank you” to all those who supported princess in its self-published form. The readers there constantly encouraged me to expand it past its 40-something pages, but I super doubted my ability to do it, which was my first mistake! When all else fails, believe in yourself. 


I later suggested that it be included as bonus content in the back of another one of my books, but that didn’t feel right. Deep down, I knew it needed to be on its own, despite my previous doubt. In the midst of planning monsters, I knew a book like ghost was the only natural sequel and conclusion. They’re two books about totally different relationships (one romantic, one familial) I had with people who never actually knew each other. 


However, they both held similar spaces in my journey, in that there was a crossover in the timeline between the toxic relationship in monsters and the death of my mother in ghost, and it was my own ability to mend and move on from both that transformed me into the resilient person I am today.


Thanks again to Amanda Lovelace for this incredible look into to drink coffee with a ghost. Be sure to grab your own copy, available in hardcover or kindle edition, today.