Amanda Jennings writes psychological suspense and is the author of Sworn Secret, which was published in the UK, US and Italy. It was an Amazon kindle Top 5 bestseller in the UK, a Top 100 bestseller in the US, and reached the number 1 spot in Italy. Her second book, The Judas Scar, was published in 2014 and optioned shortly after by a UK film and television production company. In Her Wake, is her most recently published book. It’s set in Cornwall, where her mother’s side of the family is from, and where she spent long and very happy childhood summers. Amanda is a regular guest on BBC Berkshire’s weekly Book Club and enjoys meeting readers at libraries, book clubs and literary festivals. She writes a blog and is active on Twitter. She lives just outside Henley-on-Thames with her husband, three daughters and an unruly menagerie of pets.
Hi Amanda and welcome to Compulsive Readers. Now before we begin please remember that I have in my possession a photograph of you with NO MAKE UP on and will be happy to share it with everyone if you don’t answer my questions properly:
You are the author of 3 psychological books, The Judas Scar, Sworn Secret and your latest (BLOODY BRILLIANT) In Her Wake, for the readers who haven’t had the pleasure yet, please give us a brief description of each book and why we would read them:
Well all three are about the female struggle for the right to go out with absolutely not a jot of make-up on… Ok. I might be fibbing. Sworn Secret is the story of a family trying to cope in the aftermath of the death of their teenage daughter. Her mother begins to discover secrets she kept from them which raise questions about the circumstances of her apparent accident. The Judas Scar is about two men who were involved in a horrific incident at their boarding school. Twenty-five years later they seemingly bump into each other, one now intent on revenge, the other struggling under the weight of his guilt. And In Her Wake which follows the story of Bella, who after a family tragedy discovers everything she believed to be true about her life was a lie. Why would someone read them? That’s a tricky question. If you are the type of person who is interested in seeing how ordinary people cope in extraordinary and traumatic situations, and ultimately find their way through, then these might be for you.
You are currently writing book 4, which will be published by HarperCollins, what can you tell us about it and when will be it out?
The book is called The Cliff House, and hopefully the cover will be revealed soon. It’s about two girls who become friends in the 1980s, and is set against a striking Art Deco house with a dramatic black-tiled swimming pool, overlooking the Cornish coast. It has a slightly Gothic feel to it and follows Tamsyn Tresize, a 15 year old from St Just near Sennen Cove, as she tries to move on from her father’s death a few years earlier. It’s due to be published in February 2018.
We’ve met a couple of times in real life (thankfully you had make-up on) and you are a very cuddly person, if you could cuddle anyone in the world who would you choose and why?
I am never seeing you without make-up on again! I promise. Ah, I do love a cuddle. I often wonder if it’s quite the done thing for someone of my age to be quite so immediately cuddly! So, I can cuddle anybody? Tricky. There are so many people… My gut-instinct is to say Michael Fassbender but I’m not sure my husband would be happy with me cuddling him. I’ll go with Graham Norton. We would curl up on the sofa and watch a really good film (possibly starring Michael Fassbender) and cuddle whilst eating tortilla chips and salsa and drinking French Martinis.
One of your besties is the mega talented Clare Mackintosh – when did you meet and can you tell us any secrets about her (remember I still have that photo)?
I adore Clare. We met Twitter – where else? – and then in real life when she was involved with running the brilliant Chipping Norton Literary Festival. I loved her book and that always helps when authors are wondering whether to be friends or not (never accuse us of having no moral fibre…), but she also went on to be very supportive of my book (see previous point. It’s basically a mutual book love-in.). It helps that Clare is great fun and a bit naughty. Secrets about her? Gosh. I suppose I could tell you that we once had a chat and she told me she wasn’t sure if her first book was going to sell well. She has very poor psychic skills because apparently it did ok…
In your author photo (below) you look really HOT, you are rocking that mean and moody look – when people meet you in real life after seeing that photo are they a tad disappointed?
Ha! I am a constant disappointment to everybody I meet. Unless you like cuddles. In which case, I exceed expectations hugely.
Tell us more about your unruly menagerie of pets please?
I’ve a gorgeous rescue dog called Saffie, who’s half border collie/retriever and half marauding husky. She is my constant companion. Walking her is a daily joy. I have a beautiful fluffy white cat with blue eyes called Bibi whose favourite place to sit when I’m writing is on my keyboard. We have four chickens called Flameboy, Wolfie, Rosalina IV and Jon Snow, who I love. Chickens are the best pets. Easy to look after, full of character and give me eggs. We have two ponies, Crystal and Scooby. They’re cool because horses are essentially the coolest creatures on the planet. We had two rabbits, Connie and Gingernut, but last year Connie died and Gingernut was dying of a broken heart, so she went to live with a friend of mine who has lots of rabbits. Gingernut has fallen in love again, so a happy ending. Oh, and three daughters and a husband, who is almost house-trained.
Tell me about an average writing day in your life and also do you have a nice chair to sit on?
I have the BEST chair! (Thank you again). I get the girls to school, walk the dog, then tidy the kitchen and make tea. Then I try and work until 3pm. I am the most easily distracted person in the world, so when I say ‘write’ I mean flick on to twitter and Facebook, pop out and check the ponies, walk the dog again, make more tea, wonder what I’m going to eat for lunch, phone a friend, and amid all of that squeeze out 1500 words or a couple of chapters of editing. Then I tend to do a bit more writing when my husband comes home, while he hangs out with the kids.
Do you have a special skill or party-trick that you can share with us?
I do. I can tie a cherry stalk into a knot using only my tongue. I saw it on a film once. Tried it and did it. I look like a totally numpty while I’m doing it, but the end result is impressive. OK, relatively impressive…
What are your views on cow-tipping?
I would say leave the cows alone. Poor loves. Though we went on one of those cowboy ranch holidays once, while we were living in the US, and my husband wrestled a bull (it was actually a calf but what are a few facts amongst friends) to the floor. I thought he looked quite sexy whilst doing it, so maybe I should give cow-tipping a chance. Can Fassbender do it?
Finally, what plans have you got for the rest of 2017 and will you be at Harrogate in July?
I will definitely be at Harrogate. I went for the first time last year and loved it. Very relaxed and fun, and an ideal opportunity to catch up with writer- and reader-friends. See you there! (And, yes, I’ll put some make-up on…)