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South Dakota romance writer's journey from anguish to film

Amy Daws' career started with a 2014 memoir about pregnancy loss, then romance novels and now a movie deal.

Amy Daws on set 2.jpg
Sioux Falls author Amy Daws, at right, with actor Madison Lawlor, who stars in the movie adaptation of "Wait With Me," during filming in Atlanta.
Contributed / Amy Daws

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Writing is a lonely pursuit.

Inspiration is fleeting. Words that once fell together like a child’s puzzle can morph into unfamiliar pieces of goo.

That’s where Amy Daws was, stuck in a rut after a string of books, beginning with a personal memoir followed by a series of romance novels based in the world of British football.

Then a change of tires — and scenery — flipped the switch. Sitting in the comfort room at Tires, Tires, Tires in Sioux Falls, on a cold winter day in 2018, waiting for her car to be serviced, the romance of the mind rekindled.

"Wait With Me," the story of an erotic novelist who repeatedly sneaks into a tire shop waiting room and finds love with a hunky mechanic, was a hit with Daws’ fans.

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It also caught the attention of Passionflix, a streaming service specializing in tales of romance. The company recently finished filming "Wait With Me" with plans for a spring release. Daws spent three weeks in November on set in Atlanta during production.

“It was a crash course in the movie business,” Daws told the Forum News Service. “I was in awe of all of it.”

Tires, Tires, Tires

That’s a condensed version of Daws’ story, from beginning to end in a few sentences.

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Cover of <i>Wait With Me,</i> by Amy Daws.

The crush of writer’s block wasn’t solved in one visit to Tires, Tires, Tires location on Minnesota Avenue. It took many. There was just something about the spot, the supply of warm coffee, soda and cookies, that juiced her creativity. But it seems uncouth, at best, to show up at a business over and over for free coffee.

The customer comfort center at TTT is meant for, well, customers.

So Daws brought in other cars that needed oil changes or other service. Family members, friends, whatever excuse she could think of to pull up a chair and start writing.

At some point, the staff began to catch on.

Why, they asked, are you doing this?

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When the truth was out, rather than suggesting other accommodations, they embraced it.

“She’s our writer in residence,” said Gary Michaels, general manager of the company’s two locations in Sioux Falls and two in Sioux City. “She can come and write at either store without having a car worked on.”

Tires, Tires, Tires even hosted a book signing when "Wait With Me" was published.

“There was a line through the customer comfort center and out into the showroom,” Michaels said. “It’s been fun.”

'Watching movie magic'

Passionflix brought Daws into the details of movie production.

They asked her for input on the scripts. She was able to help pick the actors from audition tapes.

And they invited her to be on set as much as she wanted.

That turned into staying in Atlanta for the full three weeks of filming because you never know when that opportunity might come up again.

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Amy Daws on set 1.jpg
Amy Daws on the set of <i>Wait With Me,</i> during filming in Atlanta.
Contributed / Amy Daws

“I had this burst of adrenaline every day,” she said. “I’m an author from South Dakota who works from home and sends her kid off to school every day. I have this boring life and here I am watching movie magic while they make my book into a film.”

The emotion culminated, much like a novel, in a key day of the filming.

“In romance, there’s this moment called the black moment, when the truth is revealed, or the couple breaks up, where they have this emotional exchange,” she said.

In "Wait With Me," that happens in a dark alley at night. The actors had gone into their separate spaces to prepare for the scene.

“When I watched them storm out of the door and deliver the scene for the first time, they were so passionate and into their characters, I was like, ‘Oh my god this is really happening.’”

Daws harbors no desire to write about vampires, or superheroes, to include explosions of some sci-fied version of suspense. She’s focused on the emotional interplay between characters that resonate with real readers.

She plans to be a grandmother still writing steamy romance. That may mean more opportunities for movies or television but her role is to tell the stories and hopefully the rest falls into place.

“There’s a comfort in knowing exactly what I want to write,” she said. “My readers know what they are going to get from me. They are my fans for a reason. As long as I keep giving them what they fell in love with, hopefully I will always have a job.”

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A place of anguish

But that, too, is a condensed version of the story.

Amy Daws started writing from a place of anguish.

Her first book, "Chasing Hope," was the true story of losing six pregnancies before the birth of her daughter, Lorelei.

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Cover of <i>A Broken Us,</i> by Amy Daws.

That was followed in a few months by her first novel, "A Broken Us," which she wrote in two weeks.

Daws writes books in series, often with intermingled characters. They are often set in Great Britain, with one series centering on the Harris brothers, four English footballers.

"Blindsided" is her best seller, featuring Scottish midfielder Maclay “Mac” Logan.

The promotional material for the book describes it like this: “What happens when an almost thirty-year-old virgin agrees to let her Scottish footballer best friend give her some lessons in seduction?”

Logan is described as “a loud-mouthed, tattooed ginger content with focusing on football.”

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The heroine, Freya Cook, is “used to being the invisible woman with a needle and thread, offering cheeky punchlines as she helps dress London’s finest.”

So as not to give away the details, let’s just say the story plays out from there.

Daws has now written 22 books. But it’s only been in the last year that she’s stepped back and looked at the work in total.

What she sees is a chronicle in fiction of her personal journey. Writing was therapy for the wounds of recurrent pregnancy loss.

“You can see my trauma healing,” she said of the progression of books. “They get lighter, brighter.”

The movie-making experience, and the success of Wait With Me, encourages moments of introspection.

“It really made me reflect on how far I’ve come and how lucky I am to be living a dream,” she said.

“When I think about how it all started, and how it was so painful for so many years, I see the big picture. It’s a moment that you are living, and it’s so painful, but once you are past it, and continue on your journey, it all makes sense.”

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Patrick Lalley is the engagement editor and reporter for Sioux Falls Live. Reach him at plalley@siouxfallslive.com.
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