The Writing Life of: Amanda Malben
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Amanda Malben. Amanda will be sharing with us detail of her writing life, telling us all about her latest book ‘Running from the Sky‘, which was released on 30th May 2018 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
Amanda Malben initially trained as an actor at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, which gave her the tools to fit into any role that life threw at her; and there were many, from fabric designer, to chef, to teacher. During this time she scribbled down ideas and stories. Now retired, Amanda devotes her time to writing, using all her experiences and slightly nomadic life style to develop her stories and characters. Amanda takes her book to primary schools for readings and creative writing workshops.
Books and the imagination to explore other worlds matter to Amanda, and that passion started in her childhood, where she happily created worlds to play in that were packed with imaginary friends. When she’s not writing, Amanda walks with her dog, Sally, which gives her space to expand her stories. Her favourite place is a beach in northwest Scotland, where she can loll like a sea otter in the still evening waters watching the sun set behind the mountains.
Amanda is married, with eight grandchildren, and she lives in the rural heart of England. Running From The Sky is her first book and she is busy exploring more worlds to write about.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
So many I lost count. I was very outdoorsy, animal orientated, tree climbing tomboy, but it was always creative, eg acting. So after A levels I went to the Central School of Speech and Drama.
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
Loads of them, no real favourite. I read all the Enid Blyton Famous Five Books – I was George! Addicted to the Narnia books and every fairy tale book I could get my hands on. We were only allowed three books from the library at that time, which was a nightmare for me on holiday. I do remember reading books backwards just for something to read!
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always written things, fairly morbid poetry when I was a teenager, beginnings of stories fill my note books but I never got past the initial first scenes. So I never thought about it as a serious occupation.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
I try really hard to write something every day but life is complicated so I don’t beat myself up if I don’t achieve much. I tend to spend the mornings on the admin side of things, web page content, questionnaires like this, phoning people etc. My count when working on the book now, is usually around the 1,000 mark – it wasn’t always so easy! I write in my note book first, and I do that anywhere; in the garden on a nice day, curled up on the sofa by the fire on wet, cold day, I then work the notes on the computer.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
I only have the one completed and published. I have two I’m working on at the moment one of these should be ready for publication by the Autumn, I have an awful lot of note books full of half written chapters, stories, ideas, poems etc.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a little bit of both I have the plot – beginning, middle and end in my head when I start out, but sometimes the characters change and the plot sways off into somewhere else, but the main theme usually stays solid.
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher – Wrate’s Publishing
Pages – 144
Release Date – 30th May 2018
ISBN 13 – 978-1999608903
Format – ebook, paperback
Three years into the civil war that has turned his country upside down, Sami’s home village in Syria is hit by a deadly bomb attack and he is forced to leave behind everything he knows and loves.
Eventually, Sami and his family are given refuge in Coventry, England, but city life is hard to adjust to. It’s grey and cold and there are no fields to play in or animals to tend. Worse still, Sami worries about the fate of his uncle and cousins back in Syria and struggles to make new friends.
In a bid to take his mind off his homesickness, Sami is introduced to Harry Adams, one of the elderly residents at the care home where his mum works. Although wary of one another at first, the pair gradually form a bond, as Harry tells Sami the story of the unusually named Splen and his dog Bobby, who lived through the Second World War and the infamous Coventry Blitz.
As Sami discovers more about Splen and his dramatic escape from the horrors of conflict, the two unlikely friends make peace with their troubled pasts and forge a new sense of hope for the future.
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
I read as much as I can from books, my book shelves heave with research books! I use the internet. I talk to people if they have information they can share – not just facts but emotions, feelings memories as well. I also visit places if that is possible, so I went to Coventry. The book I’m writing at the moment is set in 1847 America so that’s a no no, but Google earth is a wonderful tool to help get an sense of place.
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
Six months seems to be my timeline, I spend a bit of time getting started, then I get on a roll. Half way through I want to throw it all away because its rubbish and then I get going again – mad!
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
Titles are hard aren’t they? They usually come to me when I’m getting towards the end of the book and they just sort leap out of my head.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
My characters seem to come into my head and become very real. I do take things from people around me, I will admit that Harry in Running from the Sky has a lot of my husband in him! But I like to give my characters a loose rein so they can develop in their own way. I do tend as an actress to take on each role, and read my work aloud to get into them, picking up accents on the way. Eliza is my current heroine and I have her voice in my head constantly.
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
I decided to self-publish with an independent publisher – Wrates publishing. I needed to be hand held – I did not want to go through the long process of finding an agent, finding a publisher, deal with rejection and having to take on the battle – I felt that at my age, time is of the essence and I just want to get on with it.
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
I am nearly at the end of the first draft of the next book, very different from the first, an adult book with some hardness in it but still historical – love history. I am also doing School visits with Running From The Sky which is wonderful fun.
The Fun Section
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
2) Do you have any pets?
I have my best friend Sally who hears all my stories as I write out loud when I’m walking with her!
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
Bloody hell, oh my god, what the heck are you doing?
4) Your book has been made into a feature film and you’ve been offered a cameo role, which part would you choose, or what would you be doing?
I would be Nurse Bridget.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Anywhere with open space and a good beach – Scotland and Cornwall up there at the top.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
‘Put down the pen its time to Tap Dance on the roof!’
I would like to say a big thank you to Amanda Malben for sharing with us details of her writing life and for a wonderful interview.