Monday, 29 August 2016

#MondayMusing with Guest Author: Amanda Saint


A product of contemplation; a thought: "an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas).


I am delighted today to welcome Amanda Saint to the blog. Thank you Amanda for taking the time to answer my questions. Amanda is the author of As If I Were A River which is out now and published by Urbane Publications. It has such a striking cover, I can't wait to read it. It has also had fantastic reviews...

When we discover the truth about others, we find ourselves... Kate has a safe, happy, ordinary existence. Or so she thinks. When her husband Jimmy goes missing she is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life, and must confront the past to find a future. Kate hasn't seen her mother, Laura, for 25 years, and she cannot seek solace from her estranged father. Can Una, her paternal grandmother, provide answers about those who have seemingly abandoned her, and help her come to terms with the loss of those she loves? 'As If I Were a River' is the emotional story of three generations of women and the impact of their actions upon each other...and themselves. It is a story of buried secrets, and of finding the courage to question the life you lead. Are we forever shaped by our past, or can we find redemption in making our own future?



Interview with Amanda Saint

Thanks very much for inviting me on to your new blog series, Leah.


11)      Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Since I was in my late 20s I’ve been working with words in one way or another. The jobs I’ve had over the years, when I wasn’t travelling or doing short-term temping work, include magazine editor, communications consultant, web editor and for the past 6 years I have been a freelance journalist. But I always knew that really I wanted to be a fiction writer and after several years of trying to write short stories and novel openings that were not very good, I decided to start taking my fiction writing seriously. In February 2010, I moved to London, where I stayed for a few years, and the idea for what became my first novel came to me on the tube one day so I invested in a creative writing course and started writing it.

2)      Could you tell us a bit about your debut novel, As If I Were A River?

It tells the story of three generations of women in one family and how the decisions they make reverberate through the years and affect the others. The main narrative is the youngest of the women, Kate, and it starts on the night her husband goes missing. When he doesn’t come back, and she doesn’t know what’s happened to him, she starts to unravel and in trying to deal with his disappearance has to also face up to the past. This is where the stories of her mother, Laura, and grandmother, Una, come in. I’ve been overwhelmed by the wonderful response to it from readers and bloggers; and was quite beside myself when it was selected as a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker Prize.

3)      Which writers do you admire?

There are so many! I really enjoy Margaret Atwood’s work and especially that she writes in different genres a lot of the time. I’m very drawn to writing completely different stories. Other writers I always get excited about when I hear they have new novels out include Maggie O’Farrell, Damon Galgut, Alison Moore, David Mitchell, Maggie Gee – there seem to be a lot of Maggie’s on my list! But I also love Thomas Hardy’s work and think his insights into human nature are brilliant and still very relevant today. I really like a lot of Stephen King’s novels from the 70s and 80s.

4)      If you had to give one book only as a present, which would it be?

This is such a hard question! I think if I was giving it to someone who also wanted to be a novelist I’d give Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible as it is a brilliant example of characterisation, voice and narrative tension. Actually, I’d give it to readers as well as it’s a fantastic family drama story set against the real life history of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

5)      I believe you are working on your second novel, is there anything you can tell us about that?

I’m just finishing the first draft of it now. It’s very different to my first novel tells the story of Evie who lives in a future that looks more like the past. Medieval superstitions are resurfacing and she’s facing execution for witchcraft.

6)      How important is the cover of a book in your opinion?

Very. It’s what initially makes me pick up a book in a shop. When I had to choose the cover for As If I Were A River I noticed that it felt really important to me that it gave an idea of the story but to not seem too obvious. I think this is what I look for as well in covers when I’m searching for a new read. It has to make me think, ‘What’s that about?’

7)      What made you become a writer?

I’ve written stories since I was a child and just always had this desire to do it. There was a time from my late teens to mid-20s when I didn’t physically write anything down and I just had constant streams of lines, paragraphs and characters running through my head. So it seemed like it would be best if I started writing again! So I got a job working on a magazine and started writing bits of fiction in my spare time.

8)      What are your writing habits and space like?

I’m always moving as I’m a nomad at heart and my husband and I both love to travel. So I don’t have a dedicated writing space, and haven’t had since we moved out of our rented house in Exmoor and got rid of all our possessions three years ago. So I just have to write anywhere – and this can range from on the bed of a hotel room, to someone’s kitchen table where I’m house sitting, to a café.

9)      What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your writing?

I spent a lot of time when writing As If I Were A River researching spiritualism, which in itself isn’t strange, but I did come across a lot of forums and websites where people were telling some very odd tales.

10)   Could you tell us something about you that people wouldn’t necessary know about you?

For a short while when I was in my mid-20s I worked in the kitchen of a pie shop and restaurant called Sweeney Todd’s to earn extra money to save to go away travelling. But then I’d spend it all by going straight to the pub opposite when my shift finished!

Amanda is a nomad who writes for magazines and businesses when she’s not writing stories. Many of her articles are about engineering and technology developments for helping with climate change and sustainability. At the moment she’s house sitting with her husband but in the past fifteen years or so she’s lived in a tiny village on Exmoor, in London, the Lake District, Brighton and Lancaster, and also spent three years in New Zealand. She roamed up and down England on a canal narrowboat for several months too and travelled around the South Pacific coconut islands,
Australia and Asia.
When Amanda is not writing, she runs writing retreats and competitions through her tiny business, RETREAT WEST , and walks about in wild places. She studied Creative Writing and Literature
with the Open University and her short stories have appeared on the Fish Flash Fiction prize longlist, in the best-selling STORIES FOR HOMES charity anthology, and in literary magazines.

Amanda is currently working on her second novel and a short story collection. Her debut novel, As If I Were A River, will be published by Urbane in Spring 2016.

Please follow the links to find out more: 

·         Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01C5PQHP4
·         My website: http://amandasaint.net


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