Today I’m pleased to welcome to the blog Amanda Jennings, author of Sworn Secrets and The Judas Scar. Amanda has kindly answered a few of my questions.
First things first. Tell us what The Judas Scar is about 🙂
The Judas Scar takes a look at the long-reaching effects of childhood trauma on adulthood. It tells the tale of two very close friends at boarding school, Will and Luke, who were involved in an incident when they were fourteen that affected them both deeply. As a result of this event, Luke was expelled, and the two don’t see each other again until twenty-five years later when an apparent chance meeting brings the past and its secrets crashing down on top of them, setting in motion a dark and emotional story of guilt, desire, betrayal and revenge.
Your novels are standalone. Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. With Sworn Secret it was the passing comment from a mutual friend of my sister and I. This comment got me thinking about the importance of sibling position when it comes to character development, wondering how, if a sister loses her sibling during her formative years, differently her personality might develop. With The Judas Scar it was the effect a phone call my husband received from a police officer investigating historic abuse at his old school had on him. These are just the starting points for the books, the actual stories are different to the kernel of the idea. My next book, which isn’t finished yet, was inspired by a news story I read about fifteen years ago. But inspiration can come from the strangest of places. I had an idea for a book based on the shopping basket contents of a man standing in front of me in a supermarket queue!
What have you learned about the writing and publishing process that you wish you’d known before you started writing?
I think I’ve learnt that determination is the most helpful of virtues. There is so much rejection that comes before signing a publishing contract. I remember signing with my agent, cracking the Champagne and thinking I’d made it. But there was a long way still to go, with a lot of rejection still to come. In a way, I think it’s no bad thing. Facing rejection, picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, shouting onwards and upwards, and trucking on, is all good, character building stuff, and a great way to prove to yourself you’re serious about writing. Hand in hand with this realisation, is the fact that reading is highly subjective. What one person loves another will hate. What one person thinks is groundbreaking another will think is pretentious. What one person thinks is compelling another will think is dull. You’ve only got to read the Amazon reviews of your favourite book to see that there are loads of people who think it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. With this in mind, face rejection full on. A bit of talent, a lots of hard work and a smidgen of luck and you’ve got every chance of making it.
What are the best and worst things about being a writer?
Seeing your book in a bookshop, hearing from a reader and being told that your book has affected them in some way, and being part of a vibrant, supportive community of other writers are the good bits. The bad bits? The self-doubt that sometimes feels like it’s going to choke you, the almost constant fight against distraction, and the lack of a Christmas office party.
Can you tell us anything about your next project?
It’s set in Cornwall, where my mother is from and where my grandmother still lives. It tells the story of a woman who discovers the people she grew up with aren’t her real parents, and who struggles to battle the tragic truth of her past, and the difficulties of identifying with her new life.
You must answer a lot of these questions. What question have you never been asked that you wish had been, and what’s the answer?
So, Amanda, if you had to be a superhero, what would you be called and what would your magic powers be?
Well, Janet, that’s a very unusual question, nobody’s ever asked me that before! I would be called Empathio. I would be able to fly (obvs) and I would have the power to make people feel the pain they are causing in another person or other people. I would just have to look at them with my laser eyes and if they were saying or doing something unkind they would feel the hurt they are causing. After I’ve lasered them they would be left with the gift of empathy. I think empathy is a very underrated human characteristic. I would also be able to turn broccoli into chocolate without it losing any of its valuable nutrients…