I've read the book, or should I say devoured the book and then I got to ask Amanda some questions about her writing and her latest book The Judas Scar - on top of that I'm going to meet this amazing author at her book launch - thank you Manda so much for inviting me.
Amanda's answers to questions I asked about writing and the Judas Scar
Where did you get your inspiration from for The Judas Scar?
There’s an Author’s Note at the back of the book that answers this in greater detail, but basically it was a phone call my husband received from a police officer investigating allegations of abuse at his school thirty years previously. Though he wasn’t involved in what went on at the school, the emotions the phone call prompted in him were intense and it got me thinking about the lasting impact of trauma in childhood.
How much time did you spend researching before you wrote The Judas Scar and how did you go about this?
I tend to do a quick search on the internet for news articles that relate to the subject area I’m thinking about. This gives me a quick overview and helps generate ideas. I’ll then write a first draft using my own memories, knowledge and experiences, incorporating these new ideas, and then, when it comes to the edit and rewrites, I’ll work out which areas need more research. It’s difficult to quantify how much time this takes as the research is sort of woven inextricably into the whole writing process. Some bits of research can take no time at all, others can take a couple of days of reading and investigating.
Your ‘jobs’ as both an author and a mother are each demanding in their own way. How do you juggle all the balls?
It requires a certain degree of organisation and a fair amount of turning a blind eye to the chaos that ensues when I’m deeply immersed in the book! It is certainly easier to find time to write now the children are at school. My main issue is not getting distracted. This can be more problematic…
How much involvement do you have in marketing and publicity of your novels?
Well, there’s a publicity person assigned to the book who deals with a lot of the publishing side of getting the book out there, but I do a fair bit myself. I think you have to nowadays. I’m very involved in Twitter and have a blog, and though I don’t adopt a ‘hard sell’ attitude to social media, I think just being visible, chatting to readers, bloggers and fellow writers helps. I love talking at events, visiting book clubs, and libraries, and I also do a bit of local radio. However, that said, it’s all stuff I enjoy. Getting out of my study and meeting people is a pleasure, so it’s a win win situation.
How do you decide who to offer your book to for review?
With my first book, the publicity department handled all of that. I wasn’t on Twitter and had no knowledge of book blogs and the like, so they contacted press and bloggers on my behalf. This time it’s been a bit different. Though the publicity manager has contacted the majority of potential reviewers, I also had a list of people who’d enjoyed Sworn Secret and sent their names to the publisher. Then there are people I’ve struck up a social relationship with on Twitter. If they have expressed an interest, or I feel brave enough, I have asked if they would like to read a copy with no obligation to review. I have been incredibly touched by how many people have actively asked if they could read The Judas Scar with a view to reviewing it. I’m very lucky; we all know how important getting the word out about a book is if you want a chance of it being read. A book blogger’s recommendation is invaluable and greatly appreciated! These are people who love reading with a passion and read enough to know what they like and what they don’t. Their opinions count.
Describe the feeling when you held your first finished novel in your hands.
It was very surreal. Getting to that point had been such a long drawn-out process. There were years of developing a thick skin, of writing in any moments I could grab, getting up an hour before everyone else so I could write, dealing with the near misses – those heartbreaking emails where editors said how very close they’d been to offering a deal or, even worse, had wanted to buy it but the sales team had said no for a variety of frustrating reasons. But all that time I’d been focused on seeing my name on the cover of a published book in a book shop. I cried when I opened the box of author’s copies and saw the books, with my name on, sitting quietly inside.
Do all of your friends expect free copies of your books and is having a novel published a bit like winning the lottery all your friends and acquaintances suddenly wanting to become your best friend?
Ha! No, they don’t expect free copies. They’re all fairly insistent on buying them and supporting me, which is so lovely of them. I, however, much to my husband’s horror, love giving out free copies. I struggle with the idea of people paying money for it - it gives me the heebie-jeebies when I think of it. I’m the least business-minded person I know! And, no, I haven’t noticed any obvious clamouring for my friendship! If anything, I think they think I’m a bit useless now as I am definitely scattier than I was and can forget all sorts of things, so I’m probably a bit of a rubbish friend!!
What do you hope for when your readers have finished reading your books - is there a message you’re trying to consciously get across?
No, I don’t have any message I want anyone to take away. Reading is such a subjective pastime. Dependent on an individual’s past and present they will each take something very different away from the same book. I suppose I like to write about fears that are common to most of us, issues that concern us, conflicts that we are all vulnerable to. So in that sense, perhaps I’m inviting a reader to consider those fears with me. I don’t know. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why I want to write. I just do.
If you were to be granted one writing wish what would that be?
That I didn’t get so distracted and could just wake up in the morning, walk the dog, then write, uninterrupted for six hours. It frustrates me that my mind is so easily persuaded to drift off-topic!
I know you recognise and appreciate the blogging/social media community but keeping up the interaction must at times be draining - particularly of your time. What are your thoughts on this?
Gosh, I love it! I’m such a chatter box and have far too much interest in nattering away to people about this and that and nothing. But of course it does take time. I am constantly trying to work on the balance though. Trouble is there’s just too much fun to be had getting out there and talking to like-minded people about books and writing and silliness.
Where do you see or where would you like to see yourself in the literary world in 10 years time?
I would be very happy if I had been able to put a book out every year to eighteen months, that I kept my readers happy, and that I still enjoyed it. Everything else – like winning an award, being asked to go on Desert Island Discs, meeting Stephen King – are the dream things! I’ll give myself 25 years to achieve those?
Finally, what do you do to relax?
You can’t beat a properly written BBC drama or tightly scripted film, a large glass of good wine and a soft blanket on a comfy sofa…
Amanda is a generous, kind author who deserves success - Don't miss out buy this amazing book now!