Author Interview: Amanda Malben
About the Author:
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. 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. You can find out more about Amanda and her work from her website or Twitter.
I am so lucky to have Amanda joining me on the blog today to answer a few questions – thank you so much Amanda!
Hi Christina, thank you for asking me to be on your Blog.
Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions!
Firstly, can you tell me a bit about you and your journey to becoming a writer?
I suppose like all writers I’ve always scribbled. Doom laden poems as a teenager, copious beginnings of novels that never got finished. Three years ago I decided that it was now or never. I went on a creative writing course, you know, just to see if I could actually write and to my delight I got a distinction. Now no excuses! Two half-finished books, three could be finished books later I finally did it. Why this one and not the others? I couldn’t begin to tell you!
What was the initial inspiration for Running from the Sky?
My Grandson then aged 11 planted the name – a name and a character that’s how all my stories start. A name will worm its way into my head and it will have a distinctive character that will dictate where the story is set. He also told me that he wanted stories about real people – no more wizards and talking trees. As he was my audience the magician had to go, I had to get real.
How did the story change from the initial idea to publication?
The story was initially set in Coventry in WW2, where originally it was going to stay. I brought the story forward into the present day when I was half way through the writing. I felt there was such a resonance with what is happening now and what children are going through around the world. Syria is, sadly, a perfect example of, “we never learn. “ War is war no matter when or where it happens. It was important to link the past with the present and show that no matter what, when, or where people are, they are no different from each other.
I noticed that you self-published with Wrate’s Publishing? What made you decide to do that and what has the process been like?
I came across Wrate’s Publishing via Google. I was, as a new author, drowning in the sea of information, the self- help books, the blogs, all the different ways to publish.
To be honest it was Danielle’s web site that first attracted me as it looked and felt friendly. Best decision I made. Danielle and her team were generous with their time, advice and a bit of hand holding. Always at the end of a phone which mattered to me, always replied to emails promptly. The book ran to schedule with last minute hitches ironed out really quickly. The whole thing was really good experience so I would highly recommend them.
What kind of research did you do to flesh out Sami and Harry?
Most of my research was done on the internet – what a wonder tool! Reading first-hand experiences for both Coventry and Syria. The stories told by the children in the refugee camps are extraordinary. Some of them are breath-taking in their refusal to be beaten by their tragedies, some inevitably painful and very hard to read.
And books, copious books.
Visiting Coventry and The Blitz Experience Museum gave me such a sensory understanding. It helped me to get a feel for life in the1940s and that extraordinary night of the Blitz. I also simply listened to older peoples’ memories – a bit like Sami listening to Harry!
What’s next for you?
I have just written a fun book – Bob Dog Gets Kidnapped – to raise money for my village community and the Nowzad Charity. If it goes well I will turn it into a children’s book as there are more adventures to follow.
I also have a very inpatient character tapping on my mind. Eliza Jane – she’s on a wagon train heading across America, what a story she has to tell me!
Colour: I love all colours, but warm reds, orange umbers, blue /purples are up there at the top.
Food: I love food, particularly love Asian food at the moment
Movie: Had to think hard about this one but the one that’s stayed with me over the years is, Out of Africa.
Book: I read and read, of course I do. I grew up on Enid Blyton – Famous Five, etc and lived every minute! Alongside Narnia, Secret Garden, Tom’s Midnight Garden etc. etc. I nearly always love the current book in my hand so to pick one is hard, but recently I found The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield in a pile of second hand books … weird and brilliant. (I have been meaning to read this!)
Anything else you would like to add?
I grew up in a world where books were adventures and I had a huge amount of freedom; we ran fairly wild. I think we need to peel off some of that cotton wool that seems to have got itself wrapped around us and join in with life, not stand on the side watching – get in there, step into the unknown!
And I don’t just mean kids I mean everybody. As I head into old age, which sadly I am! I intend to do more, not less. My heroes of this year are Edward Mills age 8 who climbed the Old Man of Hoy and his Mum Bekki Christian for letting him do it – fab!
Thank you so much for your time Amanda – I will be looking out for your future books!
Don’t miss the other stops on the blog tour!
Tuesday 19th June
Wednesday 20th June
Thursday 21st June
Saturday 23rd June
Sunday 24th June
Tuesday 26th June
Wednesday 27th June
Thursday 28th June
Thanks for reading!