‘What if you couldn’t remember the last year of your life?
And the people closest to you were lying about what really happened?’
Today I am delighted to be on tour with author and creative writing teacher Amanda Reynolds.
Amanda has just written her debut novel Close To Me, published by Wildfire (Headline Imprint). Described as a ‘Gripping psychological family drama‘, Close To Me has already been optioned for television by a prominent Hollywood actress, who is attached to star as the lead character!!!!!!
Amanda joins me today in a Q & A so do please read on…
Hi Amanda and welcome to Swirl and Thread. I’m delighted to be on tour with you today and I’m hoping we can all find out a little more about you!!
Hi, thanks so much for having me.
A teaching assistant, a sales trainer, a full-time mother – where does Amanda Reynolds ‘The Writer’ fit into all of this?
Before I had my children, my career was in insurance, running sales training courses. I’d be away for a week at a time, so it wasn’t particularly compatible with family life, which meant a change of direction. Whilst the kids were young I either worked part-time, or for myself from home. Now I have much more time to write, which is what I’ve always wanted to do. I hope it shows that you can start writing at any time of life.
We will be discussing your new release, Close To Me, further on, but firstly I would love to hear about the Creative Writing Classes you teach. How did you get involved with this? Also you run writing retreats!! Please do share…
I began my writing journey by joining a creative writing group. It was a great class, filled with talent, and it inspired me to set up my own classes. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but with a background in training and teaching, I thought I’d give it a go. Cotswold Creative Writing’s first class was me, my friend, and three other people, in the bowling alley of a local pub! It grew to two classes a week, with a waiting list, and I ran several writing workshops too. Teaching creative writing is a great passion of mine, I love it. I’ve taken a sabbatical to concentrate on my novels, but I do miss listening to the wonderful stories each week.
Every time I hear mention of The Cotwolds I always have an image of the most beautiful countryside. Have you always lived there and how inspirational is the location to your creativity and writing?
The Cotswolds are very inspirational for me. I walk my dogs every day and always feel so fortunate to be in such a scenic part of the country. I was born in London, then lived in Reading until my mid-twenties, when a new job took me to Cheltenham where I met my husband; on the dry ski slopes of Gloucester! Most of my writing is loosely set in the area where I live. I like the village feel, but not as a cosy picture-book ideal, rather a brooding claustrophobic setting for dark deeds behind closed doors. The Cotswolds surround me, a bowl of hills; I imagine lonely houses like Jo’s barn conversion in ‘Close To Me’, sitting in splendid isolation on the top of hill and hiding their own secrets.
Being published by Wildfire, Headline’s newest imprint, must have been such exciting news to hear. And would I be correct in saying there is more than one book in this deal? How difficult was it to get accepted by a publisher and how long did it take?
It’s ridiculously exciting! I’m so honored to be the first author published by a brand new imprint of such a prestigious publisher. Like most authors I know, it took me a while, and I have a book or two that will forever remain consigned to a virtual bottom drawer. It all started to come together when I was taken on by my agent, Sarah Williams. We worked together, editorially, on ‘Close To Me’, and I was then fortunate enough to secure a two book deal with Wildfire at Headline. So, the short answer is I wrote for a few years before I was noticed, but then it was very quick and quite surreal.
Close To Me, your debut, is described as ‘dramatic psychological suspense’. Can you share with us today what the premise of the book is?
It’s about Jo, a woman in her mid-fifties who falls down the stairs at home and wakes up with no memory of the last year of her life. She thought she was happily married to Rob, but she feels an instant distrust of her husband. He’s hiding something from her, and so are her grown-up children, Sash and Fin. As Jo tries to recover the lost year, they all seem to be doing their best to keep her from the truth; the question is, why?
Quercus are releasing it in the US in The Fall, with Italy, France and Russia to follow. Also the TV rights have been optioned!!!! Amanda how do you stay on ‘terra firma’ with all that going on?
When my agent rang to tell me a Hollywood star had optioned my book for TV I couldn’t believe it, but don’t ask me who, I can’t say quite yet! It’s surreal at times, but I love writing, and that’s the important part, everything else is a bonus. Having said that, I’m so excited about what’s happened, it’s a dream come true. I’m visiting New York in the fall to meet my US publishers and hope to get to France, Italy and Russia too. I intend to enjoy every minute of it, and always remember just how lucky I am. I’ve just had a sneak-peak of my first foreign cover. It’s very different from the UK one, which I adore, but also completely gorgeous!
Will your next book be in the same genre and what will it be about?
My next book is quite different, but yes, another psychological suspense, and the setting is close to home again, but this time I’m looking much more at the attitudes of a whole community, as well as the main protagonists. It’s too early to say much more, but I’m really enjoying writing it.
As a teacher of Creative Writing, I’m sure you must have many literary influences in your life. Who would be the main inspirations?
These are great questions, love them!
Yes, I am a voracious, if slow, reader. I don’t believe you can write well if you don’t read widely; one feeds the other. Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard was a huge inspiration to me as it was a book that featured a daring fifty-something female protagonist, doing the things women that age still do, like having sex, and holding down a career, and making good and bad choices, as well as being a wife and mother.
I studied English at college and loved George Orwell and Thomas Hardy and D H Lawrence. Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust is a brilliant book, and shocking, especially when you consider it was written in 1934. There’s a scene in it that’s always stayed with me and I would love to adapt that idea to the modern day.
And finally Amanda, most people have at least three favourite books. What would be yours?
The Great Gatsby must be my first choice, I’ve read it so many times. It’s short, and intense, and perfect.
Also, The Girl on the Train because it was so well-plotted and I could not put it down until I got to the end. Last, but definitely not least, Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories, which has beautiful characters and a mesmeric plot, her writing is so gorgeous it always makes me cry.
Thank you so much…….
Thank you Amanda for dropping in today. It was wonderful to chat with you. Your excitement is palpable and I really do wish all the very best with all your writing and your the Hollywood life that beckons!!
You can find out lots more about Amanda over at http://www.amandareynoldsauthor.com/
Also on Twitter @amandareynoldsj
From the Cover:
What if you couldn’t remember the last year of your life? And the people closest to you were lying about what really happened?
She can’t remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way. When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories. A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life? She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell. But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.
Close To Me will appeal to fans of Jenny Blackhurst, Liane Moriarty and Clare Mackintosh.
An accomplished debut, it has already been optioned for television by a prominent Hollywood actress, who is attached to star as the lead character.
Purchase Link ~ Close To Me
Great interview! Amanda, I don’t know how you fit everything in! Congratulations on all your exciting success!
Thank you for your comment Vicki. I was exhausted just thinking about it all!! Amanda is one busy lady!! x