My occasional Friday Reads posts have been so popular that I’ve decided to run one weekly. My first guest for 2022 is author Amanda James with The Garden by the Sea, her heartwarming novel of new beginnings, community and finding your tribe when you need them the most. Happy publication day, Amanda. 😍
A precious heirloom passed down from mother to daughter…
Lowena Rowe’s beloved mum always claimed her family seed box was special. Said to contain soil from Tintagel, the mysterious seat of the legendary King Arthur, whomever made a wish upon the box would have ‘a beautiful garden, bountiful crops and love of their fellow man’. Lowena isn’t inclined to believe the myth but can’t part with the box, knowing how much it meant to her mum.
Starting over with a new home and a new job in the Cornish village of St Merryn, Lowena can’t help feeling lost and alone… but she isn’t the only one. Now, as a community of misfits finds solace and friendship in the shade of her growing garden, she realises there might have been truth to the mythical box after all, and she may just be growing the life and love she’s always wanted…
Buying link – Amazon
Welcome, Amanda. I love the sound of your book. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes! I always wrote poems and short stories when I was little but never dreamed that I’d write a novel one day. More amazing to me is that people seem to like them!
Has any author inspired you?
Lots of different writers, too many to list. But two stand out for me. J R R Tolkien and Dean Koontz. I know – you wouldn’t put them together, would you? But they are both wonderful writers. I got lost in the fantasy world of The Lord of the Rings when I was 13. And Dean Koontz is such a fantastic story teller, weaving elements of suspense, spiritualism, romance and adventure with one seamless thread. I wrote to him once many years ago to say how much I admired his work. I mentioned I’d love to write a book too. Amazingly he wrote back and said I should go for it. We wrote back and forth a few times. This is a huge bestselling author who has sold many millions of books who found the time to correspond with me in his own hand.
How wonderful, Amanda. I bet you treasured those letters, and what super encouragement. What do you like writing most?
I used to write suspense, which I enjoyed at the time, but since 2019, I’ve moved into feelgood fiction with an element of magical realism. All my books are set in Cornwall where I live too. I find in these dark days of covid, people like to read escapist fiction. I certainly enjoy writing it.
I lived in Cornwall for many years, and several of my romances are set there. It’s a beautiful county. Do you have a special place for writing?
I have tried various places over the years. I had a writing desk that overlooked the fields and the far Atlantic Ocean beyond. But I’d spend more time gazing, than writing. These days I tend to write propped up with pillows on my bed. I find that if I’m at a desk, I tend to hunch my shoulders which leads to all sorts of aches and pains.
I might try that. I’m always hunched over my desk and my neck and shoulders ache terribly! What’s your writing method, are you a pantster or a plotter?
Mainly a panster. I do a little bit of plotting to the extent that I have a separate document full of rough notes which say things like – don’t forget to add this or that, and, make sure you mention blah. I might have a rough outline too. Also, I have a list of character’s names, ages, hair colour and eye colour. Otherwise, one character might start of with blue eyes and end up later with green! But that’s about all. I like the characters to lead the story as much as they can. I never fail to be astonished by what they do next!
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
Yes, sometimes. Little day-to-day comments or something I’ve heard on the radio might spark an idea. Other times I have no idea where ideas come from.
What are you writing at the moment?
I’m writing a story about a woman who finds an old poem which talks about a magical parting glass hidden under the sand. Her grandma believed it had the power to show the truth within your heart. I can’t say more than that, or I will be in trouble with my editor!
That sounds fascinating. What inspired you to write this book?
The Garden by the Sea was inspired by my own garden which is tiny and 6 miles from the sea. However, I am lucky enough as I said above, to be able to see the ocean in the distance from it. I love gardening and during lockdown spent an awful lot of time pottering. I also loved the photos that Jane, a Facebook friend, posted about her gorgeous allotment by the sea. The characters came up with the rest.
What time of the day do you write best?
Always in the daytime, as I feel more awake and ready to concentrate. I can’t write in the evenings.
What are your hobbies?
I love going to the beach, walking the cliff paths, gardening and cooking. Not all at the same time.
And finally, what advice would you give to other writers?
Keep going, even when it’s tough. If you believe in yourself, and are determined to be a writer, work hard, you’ll get there.
Great advice, Amanda. Thank you for talking to us today. Wishing you lots of success with your books.
Amanda James has written since she was a child, and as an eight-year-old, she asked her parents for a typewriter for Christmas. She never imagined her words would ever be published however. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true when she had her first short story published for a Born Free anthology. She left teaching in 2013 to pursue her dream full-time.
Originally from Sheffield, Amanda now lives in Cornwall and is inspired every day by the wild and beautiful coastline near her home. She has many suspense novels set there, but her last few books have been uplifting in nature with a twist of magic. She loves writing feel-good reads and has decided the world needs more joy in it right now, and her plan is to write many more novels in that genre. Amanda can usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.
Social Media links
Twitter – @amandajames61
Karen King – Writing about the light and dark of relationships.
Amazon Author Page: https://tinyurl.com/y2q5audb