Today I'm handing over the reins of the blog to Emma, this morning she's chatting with author Amanda Prowse about Amanda's latest book Perfect Daughter which is published tomorrow and then later you can read her fab review of Perfect Daughter.
Well thank you for saying fantastic! That’s a great start and made me happy! ‘Perfect Daughter’ is Jacks’ story, she lives in a cramped house in Weston Super Mare with her two children, her ailing mum and in a marriage that has lost its sparkle. As Jacks says ‘love, space and money are all in short supply.’ She hankers for her past and the dreams she used to carry, until that past catches up with her and forces her to rethink her life and her future. What she learns about herself and her family is wonderful!
Who was your favourite character to write about and why?
I did love Jacks but admit having a soft spot for Jonty. His comedic timing throughout the novel gave light relief at just the right moments. Yes! Jonty is great, I often use kids in my books in that way (Peg in Will You Remember Me?) to add that big dollop of funny in the most dire of situations, in the way that children often do! I loved Jacks, her spirit, her commitment, her loyalty and the fact that she remains kind throughout any ordeal. I like her ordinariness, and think that my readers will recognise a lot of themselves in her. I know I do, like having to lock herself in the loo just to have five mintues of peace or to have a cry! (or is that just me??)
The issues raised in Perfect Daughter are all really relevant to today's society. The term 'sandwich mother' will become even more common in the future. Did you write from your own personal experience or where you inspired by the stories of friends or something you may have read online perhaps?
My lovely, lovely Nan had dementia and lived with us. I watched my mum caring for her own children, grandchildren and her mother. It was a very, very difficult time and as you say, this situation is all too common. There was no break, no light at the end of the tunnel, just hard work and exhaustion with the odd pocket of joy. People who are carers in this way are heros, each and every one. It takes strength and a lot of love to do this day in and day out.
Jacks feels her relationship towards her mother has changed now she is the carer. How hard do you think women find this role reversal when they have to become the mother figure?
I think the reality of caring for your mother is hard. That role reversal is a huge adjustment and the physical toll can be huge. It’s not like when you care for a baby, knowing the phase will pass, this is the opposite, the phase won’t pass it’s just going to get harder. It’s a very, very tough role and I have enormous respect for everyone that undertakes it. I think it is only with enough love and being able to find joy in the small things, that you are able to get through it.
I loved Jacks as a character. Her life was a juggling act of responsibilities yet she always had the school shirt ready for Martha and did her best to supply Jonty with unusual requests at an ungodly hour of the morning. Do you think she overacted in relation to Martha or did she just want the future for her daughter that she herself didn't have?
I think her anger and upset is for so much more than one situation. I think her distress is for the life she has, her dreams that have slipped through her fingers, how she sees her future... You know how you are tired and at your wits end, you drop a cup of coffee and it makes you cry, but you are crying for so much more than that one thing, it’s an accumulation of things, I think its like that!
Do you think Jack's childhood has had a strong influence on the way she parents her own children or has she learned lessons from her own mother?
Yes, very much so! I read once that there are only two ways to parent, either you do what your parents did, or you do it differently! In other words, we can’t help but be influenced by our own upringing. The irony is, that she unintentionally mimics her mother, even the bits she hated! Let’s face it, all of us with kids have heard things our parents said, leave our mouths and think, ‘Oh my word! I vowed I’d never say that!’ but we did!
I find your books really take the reader on a journey and inspire a wide range of emotions. Which novel for you has been the most challenging to write emotionally? (I have a feeling I know which book you will choose)
That would have to be Will You Remember Me? As a cancer survivor the idea of my little ones not remembering me was my biggest fear. I found it a hard book to write, but I love the result and the very, very hopeful message that it brings. Gosh, crying as I write this answer, it still affects me now…
This is your third release since December last year. You obviously make plenty of time for writing each day. So can you tell us about your normal writing routine?
If I am at home, I start writing very early, 6am, I don’t bother getting dressed and sit in my study, in my pyjama’s tip tapping until I am called upon, either to see to the kids, nip to the loo or fetch coffee! I can happily write for up to twelve hours, I am obsessed! If I am travelling then I write wherever and whenever I can, planes, trains, bathrooms, airports, you name it and I can write there. I have written every day for the past three years, including Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries. I am addicted to it!
Is there more to come from Jack's and her family - a continuation of Martha's story several years down the line maybe or have you something different in store for us next?
I will most definitely be revisiting Martha, but not for a while! My next book is ‘Three and a Half Heartbeats’ out in September and it is Tom and Grace’s story. They lose their daughter and we watch them trying to pick up the pieces after their whole world has unravelled.
Finally how do you plan to celebrate publication day?
The same way I always do. I shall put the new book on the shelf with my other titles and I will have a large cup of coffee and admire it. And when the kids come in I shall say, ‘look! I have another book out!’ and they will glance at it, throw their bags on the floor and say, ‘What’s for tea?’
Make sure you pop back this lunchtime to read Emma's fab review of Perfect Daughter.
Once upon a time, Jacks Morgan had dreams.
She was going to have a successful career and travel the world. She would own a house on the beach, and spend long nights with her boyfriend strolling under the stars.
But life had other ideas. First Martha came along, then Jonty. Then Jacks' elderly mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and had to move in. Now their little terrace in Weston-super-Mare is bursting at the seams.
Jacks' dreams were put on hold long ago. But if she can save up enough to give her teenage daughter a bright future, then all her sacrifice will be worth something... won't it?