Today I am delighted to welcome Amanda Reynolds onto my blog to answer ten questions about her new novel, Close To Me, published by Headline's new imprint, Wildfire and on writing.
Firstly, can you give us your one line pitch for your book?
Jo can’t remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience about getting published? How quick was it for you to find an agent and a publisher?
This is such a topical subject at the moment, with many authors sharing their difficult journeys to publication. I think it’s good to show aspiring authors we all struggled and faced multiple rejections before we found success. Personally, I wrote several books before Close To Me. There were definitely times when I wondered if it would happen for me, and rejections, however positive or polite, are very hard to absorb. Now, I’m glad it took a while, I learned so much along the way, not least that tenacity is key.
In Close To Me, the main character, Jo, suffers from a head trauma which causes her to lose a year’s worth of memories. Did you have to do a lot of research into memory loss and how did you go about it?
I did a lot of research, both first-hand accounts, and of course via the internet. There’s a wealth of information out there, both medical and from those affected and their loved ones. I tried not to dwell too long on the forums as it’s so sad, Jo was luckier than some, as she observes herself. I did Google some images; not a good idea. I’m not squeamish, but it was not for the faint-hearted.
Are you a planner? If so, can you tell us a little bit about your process?
I’m a terrible planner, but I did plan out Close To Me. I knew where I wanted to take Jo and Rob and roughly where they would end up, so I had a ten page synopsis, which is amazing for me! Normally I like to get writing and see where the characters take me.
What advice would you give to any aspiring authors?
I’d say, do it! It’s the best job in the world, but be prepared for the long haul and take critique when offered, particularly if the person giving it is a professional. It doesn’t mean you should change your work, but it’s always good to listen with an open mind.
Read widely, and not just in your chosen genre, it will improve your writing.
Most importantly, write every day. If you write, you’re a writer, if you don’t you’re not; simple as that!
Is there anything that you wished you’d known about the publishing industry before you became a published author?
Not really, I’ve found it to be a wonderfully welcoming community filled with interesting and supportive people. I love being a part of it!
I understand that you also teach creative writing, can you tell us a little bit more about this and where you teach?
Five years ago I founded Cotswold Creative Writing, and taught two classes a week until quite recently. I’m now on a sabbatical whilst I concentrate on Close To Me and my next book, but I’m really missing my classes. It’s such a privilege to hear the wonderful stories shared each week. That would be another piece of advice for aspiring authors; join a writing group.
Do you stick to a writing routine? Do you have a limit for how many words you write a day?
I’m very disciplined when writing my first draft. I aim for a thousand words a day, every day, for three months. It really works for me, otherwise I’d mess around no end, ordering stuff on-line and reading articles!
When did you decide that Close To Me was ready to start submitting to agents?
I already had an agent when I was writing Close To Me. She’s a wonderful editor and we work really well together so I knew when she said it was ready to go, it was! The first draft of any book is only the beginning and it takes a lot of patience to get it right. I suppose when you get to the point you feel you can’t add anything new, it’s time to step away.
And finally, what are you reading at the moment and what are you looking forward to reading this year?
At the moment I’m reading How To be Human by Paula Cocozza. She’s on a debut panel with me and three other authors at The Cuirt International Festival of Literature later this month so we’ve swapped books. It will be my first time in Ireland and my first time talking about Close To Me so I’m very excited, and a bit nervous.
I’m looking forward to so many books this year, especially Into The Water by Paula Hawkins and The Child by Fiona Barton, also See What I have Done by Sarah Schmidt and Tin Man by Sarah Winman, and a memoir called I found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice.