26.8.15

Wordy Wednesday with Amanda Jennings

I'm probably not allowed a favourite among the fantastic authors that have agreed to answer my questions, and to be fair they all are rather fabulous, but for boob squishing hugs Amanda is in the lead so far!


She has written several excellent books which I have managed to find time to read - not least because I stupidly started them and then they were impossible to put down. First I read was Sworn Secret and I loved it! Next was The Judas Scar darker, but as enjoyable.

The Judas Scar tells the story of two men who meet again, apparently by chance, for the first time in twenty five years. Both had difficult childhoods but found solace in their friendship, until the horrific events of one afternoon at school tore them apart and marked both for life. When they are reunited, buried secrets, guilt and anger are unearthed, and it slowly becomes clear that one of them has revenge on his mind...
And now the questions!

When did you start writing?

I've always written stories. I was one of those children who used to make books out of folded paper, staples and felt tip pens. But though I was pretty good at school, spelling and grammar weren't my strong points, so although my stories would come back with complimentary comments about my ideas and imagination, they would also be covered in red pen! I ended up studying Architecture at university, but it soon became apparent that it wasn't for me and after my first year I changed to History of Art! For this degree I had to research and write a 30,000 word dissertation, and this reminded me how much I loved to write. I had my first baby and then went to work in television but I missed her dreadfully, so when a script I'd written for a BBC talent scheme was shortlisted to the final eight, I made the decision to give up work to be with her and write. I wrote in any spare moment I could find, it kept me sane and gave me something other than the laundry to  do. Basically, I wrote so I could ignore the housework! cunning!

What 3 things (not including paper, computer, pens) would you like to facilitate a good days writing?

Tea (at least six cups), Twitter (for welcome breaks), and Saffie, my dog (dog walking is essential for fresh air, exercise and allowing my mind to wander over plot lines and characters. I also need her to talk to as writing can be a lonely old business.)

Do you write to a schedule, eg every day or three times a week, set times, etc or do you write as and when the mood strikes?

I need to be fairly rigid in my schedule. I'm taking a few weeks off at the moment as I've just finished a book and it's good to have a break. Then there will be a period where I'm jotting thoughts and scenes and character ideas down in notebooks throughout the day, and often the night as well. But then once I start the first draft of my next book I will write every day, generally after I've walked Saffie and loaded the dishwasher. I try and do 1500 words a day. Some days this is easy and I can hit that target in no time, others it can be like blood from a stone and each word will feel painful. But writing requires discipline. Nobody finds it easy, and if I waited for my muse, I imagine I'd never write. My muse is a bit idle, to be honest.

What are your favourite biscuits?

My favourite biscuit used to be a custard cream. But as I've grown older I think I've moved away from the mighty custard cream. I think I'd choose something fancy now, like a stem ginger biscuit dipped in dark chocolate. But I wouldn't buy either of these biscuits as I would eat them all in one go. I have to buy Mint Clubs because the children love them and I don't, which means they have a fighting chance of actually being able to eat them before I do. Ooh I love Club biscuits, remind me to visit...

Where do you do most of your writing?

I have a study, with a window overlooking the garden - vital for window-staring. Writers, without doubt, do more staring out of windows than any other profession - and my dog's bed beneath my desk.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I am reading Snow Blind by Ragnar Jonasson, who was wonderful to listen to, and the book is brilliant. I saw him on a panel at Crimefest, an annual crime writers' convention in Bristol, and he spoke so beautifully about Iceland and this small village cut off from the rest of the country by heavy snowfall, where nasty things begin happening to the inhabitants. The book is translated by Quentin Bates, who is a lovely man as well.

Do you use social media (facebook, twitter, instagram etc) to engage with your audience, do you think it helps sales and do you find it fun or a chore?

Yes, I use all of the above, and have even signed up to Periscope, the new video sharing platform, and have just started using Pinterest as well. I love social media. I don't use it specifically to sell books, though I will often share exciting news or lovely reviews. But the 'buy my book, buy my book' thing is too pushy for me; I'm the type of person who runs out of shops if a shop assistant starts to approach me. Social media is an amazing way to engage with readers and other writers. I've met so many wonderful writers through Twitter, many of whom are now dear friends and provide a valuable support network. Likewise with readers and book bloggers. Many I've met in real life and I now count as friends. I reply to every tweet or Facebook comment made to me, and will often happily sit at my desk and natter away to people for hours. 

I'm very true to my online persona. I don't believe in creating some false idea of myself. If I'm tweeting about swapping Tunnock's Tea Cakes for my supper, that's because I have. The way I see it, if someone enjoys my company on social media they might well check out my books, if they then think the book looks interesting or the reviews entice them, they can decide whether or not to read it. I don't write to sell books, I write because I love writing and I love the idea of readers enjoying my stories. If I happen to sell books at the same time, then great, but it's not the be all and end all.
Do you own an e-reader? and do you prefer to read digital or paper copy?

I do have a kindle, but I passed it down to my middle daughter who reads far too quickly and as many books as she can, so it suits her as she can have hundreds of books at her fingertips. I just didn't take to reading books in digital format. I like the weight and feel of books. I also like the smell of them. I spend so much of my time looking at computer screens or my phone screen that paper is a welcome relief!

Do you dream in colour?

Well, that's an interesting question. I'm not sure, but my instinct is to say yes. I LOVE dreaming. When I've had one of those dreams that you think are real, and you feel fear or desire or love or sadness, I wake up feeling energised. Sometimes, with a particularly good dream, I'll lie there after waking and try hard to get back to it. So, I'm going to say yes, I dream in colour, with surround sound and 3-d special effects, too. I hope I dream tonight, now!

If reading and writing were banned, what would you do instead?

Campaign for reading and writing to be legalised? Or set up an animal rescue centre? Or work for a children's charity? Or maybe act or paint? Or go into politics? Or be a chef... There are lots of things I would do and lots of things I'd still like to do. Life is a one-way adventure and the more you can cram into it the better.

What is your ideal holiday? 

I am a skiing freak, so it would be that. Up a mountain with my family, the sun glinting off the snow, navy skies, a slope with half a metre of fresh powder and a bottle of wine, a roaring fire and a good book waiting for me at the end of the day. Perfect.



Fabulous answers, and can't wait to read the new book (though I'll have to, as being such an author groupie I seem to gather books faster than I can read them!)

Check out all about Amanda's latest books on her website, follow her on Twitter and Goodreads


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