Interview with Amanda Saint
Amanda Saint’s debut novel, ‘As If I Were A River’ is out soon. I asked Amanda a few questions about it.
Could you tell me a bit about your debut novel, ‘As If I Were A River’ please?
As If I Were A River tells the story of three generations of women in one family and how the decisions the older women make reverberate through the lives of the family for years to come. It starts with Kate, the youngest of the women, and when her husband vanishes without a trace she is forced to face up to things from her past that have been long buried.
How long did it take you to write?
A very long time! As it’s my first novel I just started writing with this idea of a woman whose husband went missing and no plan beyond that. So as well as trying to find the story by going off in lots of different directions, I was also learning to write novels. When the book comes out in April it will have been 6 years from writing the very first scene in a creative writing class to it being published. It’s a very different process the second time around and I spent nine months plotting and planning before I started writing properly and the whole process from idea to polished draft should be just 2 years this time around.
What made you want to write a book?
Novels have always been a very important part of my life. I have been an avid reader from the moment I could read and also started writing at a young age too. Plays mainly when I was young. But novels are the thing I love to read and there have been so many that have had such a big impact on me and my view of the world; and I really wanted to be able to do the same thing. Also, when I wasn’t writing for a time from my late teens to late 20s, I had a constant stream of characters in my head and would be writing whole scenes for them but never putting them to paper. I thought I better start or I might go mad!
Do you have a favourite writing place?
For the past 6 years I have been going regularly to Retreats for You in Devon, which sadly has closed down now. But that has been my favourite place up until now to write. As I move around a lot, I tend to just write in the house where I’m currently staying but I also really like writing on long train journeys, if it’s quiet enough.
It must have felt amazing to see a copy of your book in paperback. Have you come down to earth yet?
There has been a lot of stroking going on! It has been emotional, surreal, overwhelming but mostly really exciting! I still can’t quite believe that I really did it. After years of saying that I would write a book, I did. And not only that, I got it signed by a really exciting publishing house that I am very proud to be a part of.
How would you describe your writing journey?
I read a lot, I write a lot and I learn a lot!
Will you be doing any book signings?
I have an event at Waterstone’s King Street branch in Lancaster, as much of the book takes place there. I lived in Lancaster for a couple of years and it is a great little city that made a big impression on me. I’ll be there from midday on Saturday 30th April signing books.
Will there be any more books?
Yes, I’m just writing my next one now and Matthew has signed it for Urbane with a planned publication date of Autumn 2017. The working title is All Be Forgotten and it tells the story of Evie, an environmental and social activist who faces persecution as a witch when the England we know today is no more and people are reverting back to believing in medieval superstitions. It moves backward and forwards in time to tell Evie’s story in the past and in the future.
Has social media been of benefit to you?
Yes and no. Yes, because it has been a place where I’ve met and befriended many other writers and readers. No, because it’s a big distraction and I can lose hours that should be spent doing other things chatting to people and reading blogs and articles.
You have your own business. What exactly do you do?
At Retreat West I run creative writing retreats a few times a year and work with other authors whose work I admire to provide masterclasses on different aspects of writing at them. I also run a series of competitions to help emerging writers get published and this year I just launched the annual RW Short Story Prize and RW Flash Fiction Prize in partnership with Urbane. This means that the winners and shortlisted entrants will get published professionally in an anthology as well as getting decent cash prizes. On the editorial side of things, I provide feedback reports for writers on their novels, run a mentoring programme and an online course to take a novel from idea to first draft in 8 months.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to go to yoga classes, to the theatre and exhibitions, to the cinema, out with friends. But I’m currently living in the middle of nowhere house sitting so don’t get to do any of these things very often.
Who are your favourite authors?
How long have you got?! There are many and they do change as I discover new authors all the time but I love Margaret Atwood’s work and also the South African writer, Damon Galgut. Other favourites that I always get excited when I hear they have new novels coming out are Maggie O’Farrell, Jane Rusbridge, Tim Winton, Isabel Ashdown and now that I’ve been reading lots of Urbane authors I’m very excited to read Dean Lilleyman’s next novel, The Gospel According to Johnny Bender, when it comes out later this year. Billy and the Devil is an amazing book.
About Amanda Saint
Amanda Saint’s short stories have appeared in Number Eleven Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, and the best-selling charity anthology, Stories for Homes. Playing Nurses and Progress were both longlisted for the 2012 Fish Flash Fiction Prize; Fish in Tomato Sauce was longlisted in the Ink Tears Short Story Competition; and her micro story, Stained Red, won the 101 Words Editor’s Choice competition. Amanda’s debut novel, As If I Were A River, will be published in April 2016 by Urbane Publications.
‘As If I Were A River is available from:-
Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/as-if-i-were-a-river/
It can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/As-If-I-Were-River-ebook/dp/B01C5PQHP4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458153472&sr=1-1&keywords=amanda+saint
Amanda Saint’s Website – http://amandasaint.net
Retreat West Website – http://retreatwest.co.uk
Matthew Smith is kindly giving away three copies of ‘As If I Were A River’. To enter just leave a comment telling me just how much you want to read this book.
Terms and Conditions
This competition is open worldwide.
The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 3rd April 2016.
The winners will be randomly chosen within 7 days of the closing date. Their details will be passed on to Matthew Smith who will send out the prizes.