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Friday, 15 March 2013


MY INTERVIEW WITH MANDY JAMES (Updated)

Last Saturday Mandy was on Dr Phil's Radio Bristol show being interviewed about her new book A Stitch in Time. You can hear Mandy on http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0179kjs


My guest tonight has written since she was a child, but only took it up seriously in the last five years. In 2010, she had five short stories published in various anthologies, and number six and seven came out in June 2011. One is part of the anthology Hipp-O-Dee-Doo-Dah for Children’s Hospices UK (Bridge House Publishing), and has a foreword by Michael Morpurgo. The other is part of 100 Stories for Queensland, an anthology to raise funds for the survivors of that awful disaster. 
As well as entertaining the reader, she aims to make a difference to their perception of a subject in a small way and feels that reading a novel should be like a dialogue between the writer and reader.

Her latest book, Righteous Exposure, is a thriller that lives up to its reputation of being a page-turner that’s full of suspense and I’m pleased to say that my guest tonight is the author Amanda James, known to her friends as Mandy.

                                            Mandy James              
      

Mandy, firstly many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. We exchange comments on Facebook and lived a few hundred yards from each other, though unfortunately not at the same time. Tonight though I want to find out something about the woman behind the book photo on the book jacket.
Righteous ExposureIn fact Righteous Exposure is no longer your latest book, because you’ve just had a romantic comedy A Stitch in Time published by Choc Lit. Did you always intend your second book to be a totally different type of story?
Thank you for inviting  me, Richard. Yes I did. I tend to write darker novels and then lighter ones alternately. I don’t really plan to, it just happens. Perhaps my brain can’t cope with all of one or the other!


Comedy isn’t the easiest thing to write (I know only too well), so how did you come up with the idea for the book?
A Stitch in TimeI always start with a title – can’t write without one. As far as I remember I was thinking of catchy phrases or sayings that would grab a person’s attention while browsing book shelves. Then once I had got A Stitch in Time the story just came into my head!



So given that you now have your title, how do you approach writing a new book from the point of view of plot, storyline and characters?

I just have the bare bones of an idea and the characters and jot them down in a few paragraphs. Then I refer to them as I am writing. My characters often have a mind of their own and don’t listen to a word I say anyway. They just do their own sweet thing.



 
How do you think of the plots for your books? Does personal and past experience play a part, or do you just have a great imagination?

Sometimes I borrow from past experiences and personal experience, sometimes not. For Righteous Exposure it was a trip to Texas that kick started the story. For A Stitch in Time I did borrow some experiences from my teaching career. I used to be a history teacher, but didn’t time travel…well not very often. I like to think I have a great imagination too!


 

Who, as a writer, has influenced you most, Mandy?

It has to be a guy called Korczac Ziolkowski who started the carving of Crazy Horse Mountain in South Dakota. He had a dream against all the odds and never gave up. If you want to write, you must never give up and be prepared to roll with the punches. Have a look at what he did here. You can’t fail to be inspired by his achievements. http://crazyhorsememorial.org/



That's an amazing choice, Mandy. I'll be sure to check him out. You’ve now had an eBook and a paperback published. A fantastic achievement, what’s your next target?

More of the same I hope! I have got a dream of having one of my novels made into a TV series or a film, but haven’t we all?



That's a great ambition and I hope you achieve it. Tell me, is your next book a Work In Progress and can you give us some plot hints?

I have one or two irons in the fire at the moment. But I have already been asked for a sequel to A Stitch in Time by one happy 5* reviewer. Luckily I have the first two chapters under my belt so watch this space.


Do you have a set routine as a writer and a special place where you work?
Kynance Cove (c) NTPL, Ross HoddinottNo, and no! I tend to write as and when and usually on the sofa! I would really love a Cornish cottage with a view of the Atlantic rollers, but like the film idea, just a dream at the moment J


I’ve heard you express a wish to move to Cornwall before. Have you always been a West Country girl and does that influence your writing.
No I was born in Sheffield and lived there for thirty years. It’s weird though as when I went back a few years ago, I felt like I didn’t belong there and certainly didn’t feel that my roots were there. I have always felt the opposite when I have been to Cornwall over the years and that’s where I will be living soon with any luck. One of my irons in the fire, Somewhere Beyond the Sea is set in Kelerston, a fictional Cornish village – so yes I guess it has influenced my writing.




You couldn't be influenced by a more beautiful part of the country... unless of course it was my favourite, the Gower Peninsular in South Wales where I based much of my first book Leap of Faith. Sorry for the self-publicity, Mandy! 
Speaking of influence, Mandy, what is the most important piece of advice you could give a budding writer?
Never give up and never forget your dreams. Roll with the punches and be prepared to get back up off the ground every time. If you don’t, you will never make it.


Great piece of advice. One last question, Mandy. If you could achieve one important goal within the next 5 years, what would it be?
To be living in Cornwall and to be still getting the books published!


Good look on achieving both of those! Mandy, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, and congratulations on getting A Stitch in Time published. I’m sure it’s going to be a great success!
Thank you for having me, Richard. It has been a pleasure.


Mandy’s excellent book Righteous Exposure is published by Crooked Cat and available from Amazon on http://www.amazon.co.uk/Righteous-Exposure-ebook/dp/B0079MTJUE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1362257502&sr=1-1

Mandy’s new book A Stitch In Time is published by Chic Lit and is also on Amazon both as an eBook and a paperback at http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=a+stitch+in+time+amanda+james&rh=n%3A341677031%2Ck%3Aa+stitch+in+time+amanda+james

25 comments:

  1. Well! Two of my great writer friends together!! Thanks Richard, I notice that the refreshments are now so paltry they are practically non-existent!! Mandy, hope the book generates enough income for you to buy the whole of Cornwall!!! (Cottage at St Ives for me, please)

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    1. Thanks, Carol. Well, since you sat on my pizza things have been pretty sparse here of late. One 10 inch job will normally last me a week!

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  2. Well done, both, on an excellent interview! I enjoyed finding out a little about how you work, Mandy. Very informative, and very interesting. Love it!

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    1. Hi Marit. Many thanks. It's a joy to talk to interesting people!

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  3. Well done, both, on an excellent interview! I enjoyed finding out a little about how you work, Mandy. Very informative, and very interesting. Love it!

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  4. Thanks Carol and Marit! And I'll see what I can do about the cottage in St Ives, Carol x

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  6. Great interview! It's always nice to know a bit more about a fellow writing colleague and group member. I live on the Cornish Devon border, hope you get here one day Mandy as it's delightful :)

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  7. I hope so too, Tina! Thank you ;)

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  8. Cannot believe here is another writer from Sheffield originally, but now in the West country! What a coincidence. Very interesting interview. Thank you Richard and Mandy!

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    1. Wow, It hadn't struck me either, Sarah, That really is a coincidence!

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  9. Cannot believe here is another writer from Sheffield originally, but now in the west country like me! Interesting! And I will check out the books. Thank you Richard and Mandy. xx

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  10. I had no idea! Isn't that amazing? :)

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  11. Fab. Enjoyed that folks :)

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  12. I really enjoyed reading this interview. A proper conversation instead of the mass-produced 'painting by numbers' effect of the usual blog hop.

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    1. Hi Hilda. That's really kind of you. I don't like the formulaic "interviews" where the questions are always the same. I try to find out something about the person over and above their favourite colour!

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  13. I have to have a title to start with too. I think writing without one is like trying to get to know a person before learning their name.

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    1. I tend to agree with you, Patsy, and I know Mandy does. I'm writing a YA series called The Temporal Detective Agency and I sometimes won't think of the actual book title until I'm well into the plot, but the series "banner" gives me the hook.
      Thanks for viewing and good to hear from a group member!

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  14. Thanks, Patsy and Hilda! My favourite colour is turquoise by the way! :)

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  15. Great interview Mandy.

    My title tends to come last. I start off with one thing and then it changes usually. Sometimes I think that's because the book ends up taking a different tone/path/premise and the original doesn't fit anymore.

    Looking forward to reading ASIT. Wishing you every success.

    Thank you Richard for a great interview.

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    1. Hi Sue,
      Many thanks for your comment
      My titles usually solidify about three quarters through the book, though I usually have a working title after the first chapter. But I agree with your point about how a book can change direction, especially as the characters take on a life of their own. I was driving Terry Pratchett (name dropper!) back to his house once and he said after 30 plus books it aws easier writing now he has around 200 characters. He choses an idea for a plot and then chooses 8 tp 10 main characters from his repertoire and they almost write the book by themselves.

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  16. Great interview. I aim to visit Cornwall one day.

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    1. Many thanks, Glynis. It's a beautiful part of the world, only surpassed by my favourite, the Gower Peninsular in South Wales.
      All the best with your move back.
      Richard

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