I’m delighted to welcome Amanda Jennings to the blog today as her third novel, In Her Wake, is released by Orenda Books. I have just finished this novel and have to say that it is one of my favourite reads of the past twelve months. If you like beautifully written, literary fiction with a psychological edge then you are in for a treat. This novel stays with you long after you leave the last page and is available here. Here’s Amanda to tell us a little more about it.
Can you describe your new novel in one succinct but sensual sentence?
Focusing on themes of identity, control, grief, loss and responsibility, In Her Wake tells the story of one woman’s journey to uncover the truth behind the tragic events that shaped her life.
Who is your favourite character and why?
Phil the man who works in the coffee shop on the harbour in St Ives. He is there to bring moments of lightness to the story and so writing the scenes that include him was somewhat easier than writing the more emotional or traumatic ones. He’s also learning the Cornish language so it gave me an opportunity to research that a bit which was fun!
Which authors have been your main inspirations?
So many! But if I had to choose a few, I would say Stephen King and James Herbert were early influences. As a young teen I was gripped by their books, relished the tension and shocks they created within cracking stories wrought with rich imagination. And then Anne Tyler who is one of my favourite authors. I admire the warmth and appreciation she shows her characters, no matter what, and how she can find beauty in the quirkiest of people and intrigue in the most mundane scenarios. Sue Monk Kidd and Khaled Hosseini both write books that immerse their readers in place. You read their words and can smell the smells, feel the dust on your skin and the heat on your back, and taste the air, and it’s an enviable skill.
How does your writing process work; confusion and paper flying everywhere or calm and ordered?
I suppose to the outside world it might seem chaotic. I’m not a rigorous planner. I don’t have walls of neatly positioned post-its or white boards with scene markers and tension points, and there are no spreadsheets in sight. But I am calm in my apparent disorganisation. I keep notebooks – messily written, perhaps – that hold everything from plot ideas, to vignettes observed from real life, to character motivations, to location suggestions. There is lots of scrawling and underlining and asterisks and capitalised notes to myself. I’ll write in these notebooks until I feel ready to begin the first draft and then I just write, without stopping, using some key scenes as signposts to get me moving in roughly a straight line. I write multiple rewrites, so I know this first draft isn’t going to be much to shout about. It’s my lump of clay with which I’ll shape my story. Themes, subplots, character arcs, the emotional punches, all go in later. There’s almost method in the madness, so I guess I’d call myself a calm ‘pantser’.
What is your guilty pleasure when writing? (Chocolate, wine, coffee…)
Tea! So much tea! About six or seven cups in a writing day. And chocolate if I’ve worked well. The school bus which brings my children back stops outside a post office. I often leave myself an extra five minutes and buy some chocolate there as a reward for a productive day. I sit in the car at the bus stop and enjoy the chocolatey peace before family mayhem descends.
Please share your blurb with us.