Hello fellow Book worms and Page turners, Today post is a compelling interview with the lovely and endearing author of crime, Amanda Jennings. I first came across Amanda’s work earlier this year when it was suggested to me by a family member, and then again at the Brit-Crime festival earlier this month, and despite it not being my usual reading material, I was far from disappointed you can read about my findings in full here, in my previous review.
I would like to take this opportunity before we start to again thank Ama nda for her time and effort in answering my quizzie questions! I believe you will all get a good glimpse into Amanda’s character, I personally found this interview to be a breath of fresh air as like myself, Amanda seems to like to have a bit of a natter, which makes the interview all the more enjoyable to both conduct and read!
anyway ive wittered on enough, so without further ado, let’s crack on with the interview!
Please introduce yourself to our readers, and tell us what do you feel are the key elements to make Crime novel tick?
Hello! My name is Amanda, I live just outside Henley-on-Thames with a house full of pets, three daughters and one husband. I write psychological thrillers which straddle the contemporary fiction genre. I like writing dark stories about ordinary people who have to deal with traumatic situations. Generally there’s been a crime committed in the past, and there are always secrets that come to the surface that affect the emotions and relationships of my characters, and test their coping mechanisms. I’m fascinated by the human spirit and how different people react in different situations, and how our experiences and pasts drive the decisions we make. I also like trying to write complicated characters – ‘good’ characters who are flawed and make questionable decisions, and ‘bad’ characters who demand our sympathy. For me a good crime novel must keep you turning the pages, and deliver a clear story with a rising level of tension that gnaws away at you. I like to
have my emotions piqued – fear, sadness, relief, sympathy – and for this to happen successfully I think a book needs characters you can empathise with. Strong characters, beautiful writing and as much tension as possible for me!
I won’t ask what inspired your recent novel The Judas Scar, as I know you have a very well answered Authors note in the back of the book, so readers, if you want to know, you will have to pick up a copy like I did! HOWEVER, I must ask what where your expectations of Judas Scar? where they the same as those for your earlier work “Sworn Secret”? and have they thus far been met?
I was lucky with Sworn Secret. It did quite well. It was included in Vogue Online’s Best 10 Summer Reads of 2012, was in the Top ten of the WHSmith travel chart, and reached number 4 in the Amazon Kindle chart. It was also a bestseller in Italy and the US. The Judas Scar hasn’t done as well in comparison. It was published by a smaller publisher and I do think marketing budgets play a part to a certain extent. Obviously there will always be exceptions to the rule – books with little marketing budget that break out, and books with huge campaigns behind them that don’t achieve their expectations. Thankfully, The Judas Scar has had some great reviews and has been well received in the book blogging community (and for this I am hugely grateful) and we also managed to sell the TV rights to a production company. I’m well-aware that this is a tricky industry. I think the way to cope with publishing is to not think too hard about what the book might achieve and
just take it as it comes. Worrying about it is futile as there is very little you can do! I am just happy that I’ve been lucky enough to have my books published. It’s a dream come true, really.
When you are writing do you have any specific methods to remain inspired, and deal with writers block when/if it occurs?
I try not to give in to writer’s block. Every job has its good days and bad. My husband often doesn’t feel like going in to work – his morning commute is a horrible thing to contemplate! – but, like any job, you use have to get on with it. The wonderful thing about writing is that you can edit your work, so bad words can be made better. But in order to edit you need to get some words on a page. It’s vital to get a first draft done so you have something to play with, to shape, to improve and refine. The biggest piece of advice I would give to people trying to finish a novel is just that, finish it. There’s a wonderful quote by author Bryce Courtney: ‘People ask me what is the major ingredient for writing a book and I say, bum glue.’ Apply bum glue to your seat and apply your bum to the glue! That said, if I’m feeling gummed up, and the words won’t come, I will head out for a walk with the dog. This somehow frees my subconscious. If I can get my
subconscious involved, the writing process becomes that much easier. I generally start every day with a good walk. I’ll think about what I’m going to write that day, envisage the scene, and fill myself up with fresh air.
When I write, I always seem to flounder when it comes to naming my characters, how do you decide on characters names, is it from people you know or do you just fit them to their personality? and have you ever got so far through a piece of work.. and gone nope Bob is now Stephen.. and have changed a character’s name despite having written a good chunk of the story completed?
I quite like naming characters. In my first book (which wasn’t published) I named all my characters from a baby name book according to their character traits, choosing names that meant, for example, ‘handsome’ ‘brave’ ‘intelligent’ etc. I am always happy to change any aspect of my book at any time – in fact I know that the first draft will look nothing like the final draft – so now I don’t worry about names. I know full well that my characters names might well change, as indeed might the title, or the themes, or the plot, even. So my characters have working names, like my book has a working title. Changing names can be hazardous though. In my next book, which is out at the end of the year, I changed one character, called Tom, to David. I used the Find and Replace option but failed to tick the Complete words only box and there ended up a number of ‘Davidorrow’s in the updated version!
If you had the Opportunity to do a collaboration piece with any Author (past present or fictional) who would it be? and what do you think the story would be about?
That’s a fascination question and one I haven’t considered before. I think I’d go for Stephen King and it would be a pure horror. I used to read a lot of horror as a teen and it would be amazing to learn from the master and write a seriously scary book. Also, he is the master of his craft and it would be fabulous to learn from him. In fact, I wonder if he’d be up for it? I’ll get my people to talk to his people…
I was lucky enough to read a review copy of Clare Mackintosh’s ‘I Let You Go’ which I adored. Such a superb twist and very well-written and an accessible story that kept me turning the pages from the start. I can’t wait to see what she writes next. My next book is coming out with Orenda Books and they are publishing a debut author called Louise Beech who has written a stunning book called ‘How To Be Brave’. It’s not in the crime genre, but is incredibly compelling and simply fabulous. I’m going to be shouting about it a lot when it comes out!
Could you give us, a little taste of what to expect from your upcoming work “In Her Wake”?
Well, it’s out in Kindle version in December and then in paperback in April next year. I was able to share the cover recently and I am so happy. The designer has nailed it, and I’m delighted. Seeing the artwork for your book for the first time is always a bit nerve wracking as it can so often be very different to what you’re expecting, but this one seems to have captured the essence of the book. This is the blurb: A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own. A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life. Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family
– and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.’ It’s set in Cornwall in and around St Ives and Zennor where my mother’s family have lived for generations. It’s an area of the world that is very close to my heart.
And finally, what genres do you like to read and what are you reading at the moment?
I read a wide range of books. At the beginning of the year I had a real love affair with dystopian fiction and read ‘Station Eleven’, ‘The Ship’ and ‘The Girl with all the Gifts’ in succession. I also read ‘The Silent Hours’ by Cesca Major which is a beautiful book set in unoccupied France during the second world war, and I’m currently reading ‘The Miniaturist’, which I’m also enjoying. But I will read anything, and often get sent books that I wouldn’t necessarily pick up in a book shop, and am a member of a book club which also throws up unusual recommendations. You often find some real gems this way. I think it’s good to read all sorts of things. It keeps reading fresh.
If you wish to find out more about Amanda, you can follow her on Twitter, and have a look at her Official Website, all of which are listed below.
Until next time, read more books..