I’m very pleased to welcome author and artist Amanda Addison as today’s Author in the Spotlight. Her latest book, An Amsterdam Affair, was published on 6th July 2016 and you can order a copy here. Living by the sea myself, I was really fascinated to read about how the seaside inspires her work. You can find out about that yourself as she answers the last question. I’m also so pleased that Amanda has shared some of her beautiful sea inspired artwork.
What inspired you to start writing?
During my art degree at Chelsea School of Art I became interested in making books, including paintings, drawings and photos alongside text and poems I’d written. This developed into a commission for a children’s picture book, To Market…To Market with Creative Arts East and winning the Fish Publishing Art Prize for a painting used on the cover of a short story collection. I began to find that I wanted to write as well as make artwork to explore ideas and in 2003 began a writing MA in Norwich.
Tell me about your journey to publication
After my MA I wanted to fictionalise the life and preoccupations of being an artist. I developed the character of Laura Lovegrove, a textile designer who moves from London to Norfolk. In my novel, Laura’s Handmade Life, I explore both Laura’s development as an artist, alongside the constrains of family life. It is written in a stream of consciousness mode, so often a rather humorous take on things! It also allowed me to weave in information about textiles, tents, Tracy Emin and other artists into the novel.
I worked steadily on my fiction writing, stealing a few hours a week, when not teaching art or caring for my young family. I contacted a few agents and was delighted to be taken up by Sheil Land Associates and Laura’s Handmade Life was published here in UK, Italy and Germany.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
My latest novel, An Amsterdam Affair is a bitter-sweet story about searching for lost love and how families come undone and are re-made. At the heart of the story is a family secret. It is an inter-generational saga of romance and intrigue with art, craft and photography themes running through it. It is set on the coast in Norfolk and in Amsterdam.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
When I received the Arts Council Award to write and make artworks depicted in the novel, it had the long title, Picasso, Cream Horns and Tulips for Alice, which I liked for its quirkiness. It really was one of those lightbulb moments when the words Amsterdam AND Affair came to me. They really sum up so much about the story, but without giving any spoilers. I sent the new title to my agent who immediately messaged me back, saying ‘I LOVE IT!’
How did you celebrate publication day?
Celebrations began early! I attend a creative breakfast group – which is on a Thursday. We meet weekly to eat and talk about creativity, so I had a lovely breakfast amongst friends which was a perfect start to the day before the usual wine and chocolates later on!
Do you have a work in progress just now?
A couple of ideas which both link/carry on in some ways from An Amsterdam Affair.
The Cornwall Affair, an arty/crafty romantic mystery set in and around the Cornish art scene.
Billy’s World Class Bake Off, a contemporary novel aimed at 9-11 year olds and includes Billy’s recipes. At the heart of the story is Billy Braithwaite’s passion for baking, which he first shared with his Portuguese mother, then with his paternal Nan. It recently made it to the final 10 books in the Commonword Diversity Prize.
On the art front, I had a painting short listed for the Holt Festival Art Prize – so looking forward to the private view and meeting Sir John Hurt who will announce the winner.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
I loved Deborah Moggach’s, Heartbreak Hotel. It’s a rare and clever thing to write this well. It is funny, well-observed, unafraid of tackling difficult issues, but ultimately a feel-good read. Looking forward to seeing the film of her Amsterdam novel, Tulip Fever, which is out soon.
What are you reading just now? (July 2016)
A book of poems, Bird Sister, by the incredibly talented, Norfolk poet, Julia Webb.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. This is a quick re-read as I first read The Goldfinch last year and am now reading it to discuss in our village book group. And of course this novel is right up my street with so many art and Amsterdam scenes!
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
Mostly I read paperbacks in bed with a cup of tea and chocolate. Perfect end to the day!
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I have an author/artist Facebook page: Amanda Addison Author Artist
And a Twitter account: @AAhandmadelife
And finally, how does the seaside inspire your work?
Amanda’s beautiful painting of Barra Lighthouse (in Portugal, not the Outer Hebrides!)
The sea has been a longstanding interest, to look at, to swim in, and record. In fact, as an art student, my first (Artists) book was called The Sea. I still have it. It’s a series of six oil paintings plus poems about the sea and bound in coarse blue silk.
Nowadays I both write about and paint seascapes. I work from sketches (en plein air) and memory. I’m not a great fan of working from photographs, as I feel they distort my memory of a place. Sometimes people ask me to do a commission and to paint a picture from a photograph of a landscape or seascape – I always have to decline, as my main interest isn’t in creating a photo-realistic image, but, moreover a painting which has a sense of being in a particular place, at a particular time and in certain weather conditions. I’m a great fan of wild weather! You can see some of my paintings at www.artgalleryonthegreen.com In many ways the settings in An Amsterdam Affair are almost characters in themselves, reflecting the main characters’ changing moods and emotions. Sam, one of the story’s narrators uses a beach hut as her studio. I write about East Anglian big skies, the sea, windswept beaches and flat landscapes both sides of the North Sea.