Interview with Amanda Martin

Published 2013-09-30.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, Baby Blues and Wedding Shoes, was written in the year after the birth of my second child. I suffered from postnatal depression and struggled with having two children under the age of two. There were so many elements of being a parent I found hard, and I discovered that many people around me wouldn't talk about them. It was as if there was this need to show the world a brave face, to be the 'perfect' parent, with shiny happy pictures on social media and never a cross word to or about the children. I couldn't relate to that experience.

Since writing BBWS I have discovered an amazing online network of support, with honest mothers admitting that it is hard, and there are bad days, but that we can all pull through with love and support. Finding that support net has made a vast difference to my experience of being a parent. Writing BBWS was my way to offer similar support to new mothers, while also offering romantic escapism.

So, while BBWS is a lighthearted romance, with a lovely happy ending, the core theme is about parenting, sleep deprivation, postnatal depression, and the impact these things can have on a relationship.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Although I was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, I grew up on the south coast of England, about five miles from the sea. My father moved the family there pretty much without consulting my mother because he had a dream to live in Sussex. The rolling hills, the huge trees, the sea, were all in his soul: and they came to be in mine too. I often write about the sea and the countryside. We ran fairly wild as children, exploring the fields, climbing trees, building dens. That element of my childhood can definitely be felt in parts of Dragon Wraiths, when Leah is hiding out in the forest.

When I was eight we moved to the place I live now (I still live a couple of miles from my mother, although I have been away and come back many times). The land around here is gentle and soothing and I do much of my writing while I am walking the dog around the fields.

I have also lived in Leeds, Manchester and in New Zealand: these are all places that crop in my writing. After all, the easiest piece of advice to writers is 'Write what you know'!
When did you first start writing?
I’ve always loved stories and have been an avid reader since I first learned to read Enid Blyton books. I never had the confidence to write, though. At school I was motivated by good grades and focussed more on English Literature than creative writing.

Then, when I became pregnant with my first child, I started a Creative Writing course to give me something to keep my brain active. I found that writing stories was even more fun than writing essays.
I had attempted to write a novel before, but never got past the first page because I would edit and edit and the story would never get started. The course introduced something called 'freewriting' - writing without engaging the internal editor - and that got past my need to continually edit.

Then I discovered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month – writing 50,000 words in 30 days). I joined halfway through November and wrote 20,000 words of a novel (Finding Lucy). The floodgates opened. I found I could write, as long as I told my inner editor to take a holiday until the first draft was finished.

That was five years ago. My first novel, Finding Lucy, remains unfinished (due to the early arrival of my second child!) but I hope to return to it soon. I have several others, including Class Act (set where I live) and In Bonds of Love (set in New Zealand) that are on my to-do list.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My sister. Really, my sister has to take the credit. When I finished Dragon Wraiths I entered it in a competition with Mslexia and it was longlisted but not shortlisted. When it didn't make the shortlist I was determined to find an agent and a traditional publishing deal. However Dragon Wraiths is too long for a Young Adult book and I knew finding an agent would be very difficult. I wasn't prepared to rewrite the book, as I felt it was the right length for the story. So, after a few months, I looked around for alternatives and that was when my sister suggested self publishing. I had intended to self publish my chick lit books eventually, but I didn't think Dragon Wraiths would do as well, because of the YA genre.

I am so glad I took the chance. While Dragon Wraiths hasn't taken off, it still sells enough copies to make me feel like an author. And I love the indie experience: I love designing my own covers, preparing books for uploading, seeing my books across all the online sites. I am so excited that my second novel is out there and, of course, my free monthly novellas from my writermummy blog.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy is creating something from nothing: sitting at a blank page, letting the subconscious take over, and seeing a world come into existence in front of me. I also love it when someone reads something I've written and has a reaction - laughing out loud, or being moved by it, or saying, "yes, this."
What do your fans mean to you?
Without fans I'm not an author, I'm someone who writes words on a page. A book doesn't exist until it has been read. I check for new reviews every day and welcome even the critical ones because I want to know if I have made a connection.
What are you working on next?
I have two or three projects in the pipeline: a new chicklit romance, Class Act, a sequel to Dragon Wraiths and hopefully a novel length version of Two-hundred Steps Home. After that, there are two other chicklit drafts and a fan recently asked if there might be a sequel to Baby Blues and Wedding Shoes, which got me thinking!
Who are your favorite authors?
I have so many! David Eddings and Terry Pratchett for Fantasy, Freya North and Marian Keyes for women's fiction, Barbara Kingsolver for beautiful evocative writing, Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen for period romance. Is that enough?
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'm not sure about inspires, but my children make sure I get up every day! What makes me leap out of bed with a smile? An unexpected sunny day; knowing I'm going to have some time to write; a new idea for a story or character or cover design; a good night's sleep!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a stay-at-home mum for most of the week, so when I'm not writing I'm taking the children to the farm or the park, or doing domestic chores. I love walking the dog, although I often write while I'm walking - tapping out dialogue in my phone. I like to find time to read or chat with my husband when I can. I cook because I have to (although I do secretly enjoy it!)
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I remember writing was about a magic archway under a railway bridge. I've been playing with the idea recently and would love to incorporate it into a children's book. I do have a very early story I wrote and illustrated, aged six or so, about three giants. I don't remember writing it, though!
How do you approach cover design?
I design my own covers - with a background in photography, art and marketing design, I love manipulating images and layouts in Adobe Photoshop. I use images from istockphoto and then personalise them.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I read on my iPad mini - my pride and joy. I always swore I would never buy an ereader, preferring paperbacks. Then I got the mini and I haven't looked back since! (Well, when I can prise the devise away from my children that is!)
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Latest books by This Author

Two-Hundred Steps Home: The Complete Journey
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 285,420. Language: English. Published: January 4, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit, Fiction » Adventure » Travel
(5.00 from 1 review)
Two-Hundred Steps Home was written during 2013 in daily instalments on Amanda Martin’s blog. 285,000 words and 365 posts later, Claire’s journey reached the end. This volume contains all 365 instalments exactly as they appeared on the blog. Follow Claire's adventures as she tries to find a job she enjoys, a man to love and friends she can trust. More importantly as she tries to find her way home.
Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume Twelve
Series: Two-Hundred Steps Home, Book 12. Price: Free! Words: 30,670. Language: English. Published: December 29, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Travel, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
Claire is approaching the end of a long and eventful journey that has included many heartaches and many mugs of coffee. Now she needs to decide where to call home. Will it be Dorset, working for Conor, or somewhere new? Claire must come to terms with her feelings for her boss, and her need for freedom. New opportunities arise, but will Claire be strong enough to seize them?
Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume Eleven
Series: Two-Hundred Steps Home, Book 11. Price: Free! Words: 24,990. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Travel, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
(4.00 from 1 review)
Claire's horror at her boss's advances are soon superseded by new troubles, when her brother Robert calls to ask her to look after her nephews for two weeks. Reluctantly, Claire agrees, with no idea what she will do with two adolescent boys. She survives the ups and downs and discovers great affection for her nephews Alex and Jack. But how does she really feel about her boss, Conor?
Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume Ten
Series: Two-Hundred Steps Home, Book 10. Price: Free! Words: 22,880. Language: English. Published: October 30, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Travel, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
Claire makes it back to the UK, but life doesn't become any easier. Her best friend is in a dark place and her new boss is making demands. Claire finds herself torn between friendship and the need to make a living. Her travels pick up again in Devon as she fights to get her life on track. Will she find her way to a new future or will Kim and Conor disrupt her plans?
Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume Nine
Series: Two-Hundred Steps Home, Book 9. Price: Free! Words: 24,950. Language: English. Published: September 30, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Travel, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
(4.00 from 1 review)
The south island of New Zealand is beautiful, dramatic and full of adventure, but has travelling lost its appeal for Claire? Stuck on the tour bus, taking part in activities like a sheep following the flock, Claire wonders if this life is any better than the one she left behind. When that former life catches up with her, Claire has to make tough choices and face dark days. And fight to get home.
Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume Eight
Series: Two-Hundred Steps Home, Book 8. Price: Free! Words: 24,570. Language: English. Published: August 30, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit, Fiction » Adventure » Travel
(4.00 from 1 review)
After her showdown with Kim, Claire wants nothing more than to escape. She begins her adventures in New Zealand, but traveling by bus is a different experience to relying on her trusty Skoda. Will Claire succumb to the lures thrown out by the enigmatic Neal? Will she learn to embrace the Country of the Verb? And will she give in to the ultimate temptation? Time will tell.
Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume Seven
Series: Two-Hundred Steps Home, Book 7. Price: Free! Words: 24,090. Language: English. Published: July 30, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit, Fiction » Adventure » Travel
(4.00 from 1 review)
Life begins to unravel for Claire. Her friendship with Kim seems irrevocably broken, she has left Michael behind, and is searching for a new future. Can she continue travelling round the UK, staying in hostels, when life has lost its purpose? Or will she be tempted by new opportunities, either at home or abroad?
Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume Six
Series: Two-Hundred Steps Home, Book 6. Price: Free! Words: 22,230. Language: English. Published: June 30, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit, Fiction » Adventure » Travel
Claire spends time in the west, visiting castles in Wales and hiking in Border country. Travelling life clashes with everyday reality as she gets involved in Kim's plans. Michael muscles back in on her life, but does he push Claire too far? And will Claire's friendship with Kim survive the different paths their lives are taking?
Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume Five
Series: Two-Hundred Steps Home, Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 20,920. Language: English. Published: May 30, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit, Fiction » Adventure » Travel
(4.00 from 1 review)
Claire's journey around the hostels of England is overshadowed by her sister's illness and her friend Kim's surprising news. Claire must negotiate family secrets and evolving friendships whilst still undertaking sufficient adrenalin activities to keep her boss at bay.
Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume Four
Series: Two-Hundred Steps Home, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 23,160. Language: English. Published: April 29, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Adventure » General, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(4.00 from 1 review)
Claire finds herself travelling through East Anglia with her six-year-old niece in tow. For someone who has no experience with children - and no desire to learn - travelling with the highly-strung Sky is a new and not entirely pleasant experience. Claire has never had to take care of another human being before: how will she cope?
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