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NMSU alumna, lawyer and romance novelist shares experiences and advice

A New Mexico State University alumna returned to campus Thursday to share her successful career path story and how it surprised and shaped her life.

Amy Britt, an El Paso native, graduated from NMSU with a degree in English literature in 1990. Britt shared her life story with students and faculty members as part of the College of Arts and Sciences “Alumni Connections” series. NMSU Development Officer Darlene Nelson said the talk was a joint effort between the development office and the college.

Amy Britt AKA James Buchanan poses on a motorcycle. (Photo courtesy of James-Buchanan.com)

After Britt’s “dramatic” first marriage ended, she decided to continue her education by going to law school. She was surprised to find she was very successful at it. “Law school teaches you how to think as a lawyer. Your first year of practice teaches you how to be a lawyer,” Britt said.

After graduating from law school, Britt was approached by a Boston-based law firm with an offer to open and manage a California office. Opening the law office was a slow process and gave Britt the chance to start writing again. She wrote a fantasy novel with a bisexual romance.

Britt’s law firm had a very corporate culture and did not approve of her writing books under her name. “They felt your life should be your law firm,” according to Britt. Britt decided to create a pen name before publishing her first successful short story. She decided on “James Buchanan,” as James was going to be her given name if she was a boy, and it was the full name of the first gay United States president. During this time, a junior vice president working at another law firm began to send her love letters.

During Britt’s process of completing her first novel she connected with other writers and received advice on focusing on the genre of lesbian and gay romance. Britt wrote her first successful short story known as “My Brother, Coyote,” which was published as an e-book.

“My books don’t really fit romance. I don’t write happy-ever-afters,” Britt said. Britt mentions how her series books take the entire series for the romance to be completed.  Ever since her first successful short story, Britt has been dedicated to writing gay-themed mysteries with a romantic subplot. Also, because of her legal training, she tends to have a methodical mindset on how to put together a mystery. Britt begins her stories with character studies and dialogue, then creates the actions and scenery.

NMSU student Crystal Romero said she heard about Britt’s talk from an announcement email sent out by the LGBT+ Programs office on campus and decided to attend when she read Britt was an NMSU alumna. Romero said that though she is not an English major, Britt writing about the LGBT+ community is something that people are not used to, especially in romance novels. “I like that she has that I-don’t-care attitude and will write what she wants to write about,” Romero said.

Britt ended her talk by saying her success was a surprise and she was at the right place at the right time. “I am currently in the process of working on my sixteenth novel,” Britt said. Britt also gave advice to NMSU students who think they can’t do anything with an English degree. “That’s the jumping off place,” Britt said. Britt said she would not be where she is now if she hadn’t taken literature and writing classes.

 

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