On The Big Break this week, I am happy to welcome debut author Amanda James, whose first book, A Stitch In Time has just been publishing with the up and coming independent publisher, Choc Lit.
Hi Amanda, thanks for joining me today on the blog.
Thank you so much for having me.
I would love to know a little about your writing journey. What did you do before writing books?
I was a history teacher for many years, and taught sociology at A’ level. Though I did always write in my spare time – the little I had!
Your debut book, A Stitch In Time, is about to be published. How are you feeling right now?
Absolutely over the moon! I can’t quite believe it has happened. I was lucky enough to be sent some copies from my publisher, Choc Lit a few weeks ago and just stared at them for ages!
Can you tell us a little bit about the book for my readers who have yet to set eyes on it?
A Stitch in Time is essentially about Sarah Yates, a time-travelling history teacher. (Yes, really!) It has more than a touch of romantic comedy, but serious issues are touched on also. Sarah is disillusioned with her job and recently divorced. Her husband left her for her best friend and as a consequence she is very wary of committing to anyone else as she was broken apart by their betrayal. However, when mysterious and very lovely John Needler arrives on the scene and asks her to travel through time to save the lives of others, she is more than a little attracted to him. Sarah finds new purpose in trying to help people in the past find their happy endings. The big question is – will she ever be able to find hers?
Where did you get your inspiration from for it?
The title. I had just finished a darkish novel, Righteous Exposure, which is about a kidnapping in Texas and felt I needed a lighter tale next. I realised that romantic comedies seemed to do well and time travel themes were popular on TV too - Dr Who and Ashes to Ashes and the like. So when I picked the title the story just came to me. It was great!
How long did it take you to write?
Unbelievably the first draft took only about six weeks. It just flowed.
Were there times when you felt that it would never get published? If so, how did you work your way through them?
Yes I did feel that. I had four agents ask for the full manuscript, but for one reason or another they all said it wasn’t quite right for them. I did have quite a few rejections too. And over the years other novels of mine came back though the post in their brown envelopes thick and fast! It hurt like hell at first, but if you want to be successful in writing you have to grow a thick skin, pick yourself up and start again.
Were you given any good writing advice that you would like to share with my readers?
I think the most valuable thing I learned was to show in your writing instead of telling. I was once told I had a tendency to be an ‘omniscient narrator’ and instruction on how to change that. It took a while for the penny to drop, but when it did I improved greatly. And read too. That is always good advice. If you read, you can see how successful authors write and pick up some tips.
What was your first reaction when you found out your book was to be published?
I jumped about and yelled for a bit. Then I had a permanent smile on my face for the next few weeks. Choc Lit are fantastic and I couldn’t have wished for a better publisher.
How long was it between the initial deal and publishing day?
It was May 2012 and publishing day is April 2013 – so 11 months.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have a few irons in the fire but people who have read A Stitch in Time as an ebook have already been asking for a sequel. Luckily I have already started it!
Who is the one person that cheered you on and supported you through your writing?
My husband, Brian, has always been the one who has believed in me and celebrated even my smallest success, my daughter too. It is so important to have strength behind you, especially when the successes have been thin on the ground.
What advice would you give to aspiring and unpublished authors?
Believe in yourself, be prepared to learn and never give up when you have been knocked down for the umpteenth time. If you can’t take the rejections or criticism, you will never make it as a writer.
Thank you Amanda for such inspiring answers. A Stitch In Time is published by Choc Lit on the 7th of April, though is already available as an ebook on Amazon.
To find out more about Amanda James: