Welcome to Amanda Giles, friend and fellow member of the Romantic Novelists' Association ....
Updated: Sep 3, 2021
Amanda, thank you for agreeing to tell us about your writing life and what it's like to move to a different country. Have you always known you wanted to become an author?
I've loved writing since Junior School. Thursday mornings found me lost in my own world. Miss Childs would write an opening sentence on the board and we then had to create a story - which often earned me full house points - though the idea of writing hadn't occurred to me.
Have you ever had any of your work published?
When my sons were young, I wrote articles for baby magazines and New Generation, the NCT magazine where I was Postnatal Editor. I remember doing a fun interview with Rupert Fawcett, who wrote the Daddy cartoons, but even though I was paid for some things, I didn't consider myself a 'proper' writer. My first paid fiction was in The People’s Friend – The Demob Frock. I was absolutely thrilled to see it in print, complete with a fabulous illustration from Mandy Dixon. TPF took another story, The Grumpy Cheese Fairy of Biddley Court, which was based on something one of my sons did when his brothers were arguing – throw a lump of ‘grumpy cheese’ at them!
Are there any particular authors who have inspired you?
Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Jilly Cooper - all very different, but all captured my attention at different stages in my life. I think Jilly has been the biggest influence on my writing though, with her lively, saucy stories where the reader can lose themselves.
Could you tell us what you are currently writing?
I am currently writing the second in my New Beginnings series, originally called What Gareth Did Next, now retitled Forever is Today. I’m not a plotter. To be honest, a plan kills the story for me, so once an idea occurs I tend to follow the characters to see where they lead me. Gareth was my main character’s ex in my first book which went through the NWS last year. However, as I got to know him, he developed from the baddie, to the sad and rather sexy ex. He’s a doctor who returns home to Wales to start afresh. His new love interest, Anoushka, is quite different to his ex, which is fun to write. However, she also has a health issue, which is not entirely cured. My novel is a steamy romance with jeopardy, as I have to keep fighting my heroine's frequent inclination to die! Poor Gareth. Mind you, he's also to blame for us moving to mid Wales, as we came over for research purposes and fell in love with the area. (Gareth has a lot to answer for.)
He certainly has, Amanda! So, has the move interrupted your writing routines? Have you created your own space yet or are you a corner of the kitchen table kind of girl?
I confess I’m only just getting back into my writing. Our new home is in a tiny village near the Wye Valley. My office looks out onto lush green hills and fields. There are two cows with their calves, and a flock of sheep which wander wherever the fancy takes them. I also have Tony Hadley on the wall opposite, which helps when I need inspiration. The Seven Stars Inn at the other end of the village is rather inviting, so if I need to find an alternative working space, I’d probably go there. Hmm, there’s a thought…
Such lush green pasture must be really soothing to look out upon. Now, we'd love to hear why Tony Hadley is significant to you.
My pleasure! I was bold enough to pitch an idea to The People's Friend, which I'm delighted to say they went with. I interviewed my favourite singer, Tony Hadley, about the charities he’s involved with. Which meant a lovely couple of hours having him to myself after a soundcheck. Be still my beating heart!
Brilliant, Amanda. Let's bring you back to earth now. How did you first hear about the Romantic Novelists' Association?
A fellow romance writer, Hilary Mackelden, was nominated for an RNA award and invited me to join her for the event. I was in awe of all the amazing writers and felt that this was an organisation I wanted to be part of. Hilary told me about the New Writers’ Scheme and I joined the following year.
That's a lovely story. What do you find most valuable about being a member?
Last year I submitted my first completed book, Finding Love In The Sun to the NWS. My reader gave me terrific feedback, guidance, was extremely supportive and kind, and made me laugh. S/he also encouraged me to continue with Gareth’s story (although I’m still not giving out his phone number). Making the move to Wales meant leaving behind my writers’ groups. Even before we arrived I was invited to join the Cariad group. It was such a relief to have local writers to connect with. I even braved the T4 bus and travelled to Cardiff to meet up with the fabulous kindred spirits who share my writer’s mind and understand what it’s like to have characters waking them in the night with unexpected story arcs.
And we in the Cariad Chapter were very pleased to welcome you to Cardiff.
Here's a tough question for you! Do you have a favourite fictional hero and or heroine?
Elizabeth Bennet. No question. I discovered her at ‘A’ level and have adored her ever since. The 1995 tv version of P & P sealed it completely with Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth and the gorgeous Colin Firth as Darcy. During the programme’s first airing, a group of us were discussing THAT lake scene during an NCT coffee morning. One friend had missed the episode, so as I had it recorded, we abandoned the toddlers to their own devices and watched enthralled. Happy (steamy) memories!
Finally, would you like to ask yourself a question of your own?
Yes, please. That would be 'Do I wish I’d started writing for publication sooner? '
Yes. I’ve a saga sitting in a box on the shelf behind me, which I began years ago. But with assorted family dramas, I had neither the focus nor understanding about how to progress. I hope that once I have the lovely Gareth under my proverbial belt, I can return to Moondance and turn it into a book people will enjoy. Because that is my aim – to write stories where people can lose themselves.
Amanda, thank you for calling in. It's been a huge pleasure chatting with you and I think you're well on your way to achieving your aim.
I wish you well with your writing career.