“Amanda Prowse writes contemporary fiction.” This could, quite possibly, be the understatement of the century. Amanda, who started her professional writing career in 2011, has released no less than 11 full-length novels and 5 novellas in the five years since. Not only does she write books faster than most people take to read them, but she does it magnificently! Her books have made her a household name and a bestselling author.
Amanda’s author journey, however, was certainly not without heartache. Her debut novel, Poppy Day, was rejected by every publisher she submitted it to, but this bubbly blonde was nothing if not determined. Amanda had faith in the story she had written and so she opted to self-publish. Poppy Day went on to sell over 25,000 copies, earning itself bestseller status, and Amanda was soon approached by a literary agent. She signed a traditional publishing contract with Head of Zeus and her second release, the number one bestseller What Have I Done, went on to sell 250,000 copies in a few short months.
As well as her enormous talent, her dogged determination and her prolific output, Amanda also attributes her success to hard work, a whole lot of luck and a positive outlook. This Bristol mother of two doesn’t take life too seriously and has been known to suffer fits of giggles at the most inappropriate times. Melissa Delport was nothing short of ecstatic to interview this delightful, down-to-earth author:
Often, in the creative sphere, life imitates art. Your first novel, Poppy Day tells the story of an army wife whose unwavering love for her husband gives her the courage to rescue him from being held hostage in Afghanistan. You yourself are married to a soldier. How much of your own personal experience did you draw upon in writing this book?
I think in hindsight this book was me playing out my worst fears on paper. It was certainly a lot cheaper than therapy! In all seriousness, as an army wife, fear of that ‘knock on the door’ is very real and it certainly helped in creating a character who was believable. I wrote it while my husband was away on tour and so it wasn’t hard to imagine the gut-churning heartache of separation. I think that certainly made it easier to write. Thankfully my man continues to come home unscathed, and for that I am thankful each and every day.
All of your books in the No Greater Love series share a common theme in that the main characters are ordinary women, just like you and I, who find themselves in extraordinary situations for love. What inspired this theme, and what message do you want readers to take away from the series?
I am passionate about women supporting women and the themes of my novels echo this. I want to empower women through my stories by saying, you are strong! You are amazing! You are not alone! No matter how dark ahead the road might seem, how lonely, how tough, you don’t know what is around the next corner, so hang in there!
What were you doing before you started writing?
I was working in data analytics… Zzzzzzzzzzz. I cannot make this sound interesting, believe me I have tried (laughs).
Haha, I will take your word for it! Did you study anything or attain any qualification that assists you in your writing?
I have a degree in English Literature, but I think it’s my study of human nature while doing cleaning and waitressing jobs that taught me the most. You learn a lot about someone’s nature when you are on your hands and knees in front of them with a scrubbing brush!
So you studied literature, and you have admitted that you obsessively crafted short stories and scribbled notes for potential books for most of your life, yet it wasn’t until you were forty that you began to write full time. Why do you think it was only then that you started your career in earnest?
I think those lightning bolt moments of awakening happen to us all at different times and for very different reasons. Mine came when I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It made me sit up and think, hang on a minute, this is my one life, what do I REALLY want to do? The answer was sit in my pyjamas and write stories and so I did! Cancer was the best and worst thing that has happened to me. It made me re-evaluate EVERYTHING and I now live a life without fear and that has been the greatest gift.
Take me through your writing process. Do you have a set time or place that you stick to, or are your hours erratic? What does your average work day consist of?
I wake early, in my opinion the very best part of the day, and start writing before I have showered or even had my first coffee. I like to empty out my head of all the words that have backed up overnight. Real life irritatingly interrupts my writing, so I stop to give interviews, travel, do a spot of TV or radio, and also to cook the supper, strip the beds etc. You get the idea! But my ideal is twelve hours in my pyjamas, with a never-ending pot of coffee. I like being left in peace to create. It occurs to me sometimes that I might not have spoken to a human (other than the ones in my head!) for a long time, so I then call up my mum or my best friend for a bit of a natter, but inevitably before that conversation is even finished, I am longing to get back to my keyboard. Yes… I am obsessed.
I know this is a tough question, given how much work goes into a book, but do you have a personal favourite of your own books, and why?
I love Clover’s Child, a story of a mixed race relationship in 1960’s London. I adored the main character Dot and felt her loss very keenly. The book is also set in my grandparent’s house in Limehouse East London and my granddad worked in the docks, which is also featured, so I think I saw my family in every setting which is maybe why I love it so.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Write. Just do it. Whether it’s a paragraph, a list, a letter, a thought. Just get it down on paper, as practising is what hones your craft. Rejection is part of writing, but listen to the feedback, act on it and never, ever give up. You never know when your ‘YES’ will come, it might be tomorrow, or the day after that… If I can do it, anyone can.
What does 2017 hold in store for you?
More lovely stories, some real goodies in fact, more TV and radio, and perhaps the odd drama written for the screen…
Keeping us in suspense, I see! I won’t press you for more, but I will personally be following your every move! Before we wrap up, I have to ask: is there anything you can’t do?
Yes! I am the world’s worst cook and I really, really try! I sometimes spend hours buying for and then following a recipe, only for my family to prod the offending offering and reach for the phone, where the pizza man lurks on the other end in readiness.
Amanda currently resides in Bristol, the United Kingdom, with her husband and two sons, Josh and Ben. To find out more, please visit her website www.amandaprowse.com