Interview with Amanda Prowse, Co-author of The Boy Between - A Mother and Son's Journey from a World Gone Grey

All I've heard of your becoming a published author is that in 2011 you quit your job to write books. Can please please share more about your writing journey? Was it something you dreamed about from a young age? Were you exploring writing while working a regular job? What was it that finally led you to quit your job?

From a young age I had always been an avid reader despite growing up in a house without books – libraries were my salvation. I devoured books, escaped inside them. They were my educators and my friends. 

I didn’t think someone like me could write a book or would ever find publishing success. I thought that was the preserve of the wealthy and the well travelled, what could I possibly write about? I hadn’t done anything or been anywhere! The catalyst in making the jump to writer came when I got sick. Cancer kicked me up the butt and made me realize this was my one time around the block and what did I really want to do with that time? I wanted to write or at least try.

Review HERE!
What was that transition time like - from outside job to working on and then self publishing that first book? Was it a difficult change? Were there periods of doubt? How did you deal with the highs and lows of this move?

The transition time was terrible! The first few weeks were exciting, as I set out on this wonderfully bohemian adventure and started life as a creative. We sold everything. EVERYTHING! Our home, furniture, books, my gran’s china… so we could exist on one income. Money was scarce and reality hit hard. Living off cheap pasta and not being able to treat the kids was horrible.

I felt low and selfish wondering if I should give up and go back and get “a proper job.” I kept weighing up the pros and cons and the fact that we had all given up so much, therefore didn’t I need to give it a proper shot and keep going? After all I did have faith in my story. My confidence however hit rock bottom as the many, many rejection letters came in. It was a tough time for me and for us as a family.

Your first book was self-published. Can you share a bit of how you went about this - finding the right path, the amount of work involved, etc.? What unexpected experiences awaited you in the world of self-publishing?

I knew nothing about the world of publishing at all and had no knowledge of self-publishing, so really had to figure things out as we went along, which was as daunting as it sounds! I read as much as I could and knew that key to success was having a good standard of product and by that I mean, polished. I invested in getting my work edited professionally and was astounded and embarrassed by how raw it was compared to the edited work that emerged. 

The great thing now is that with platforms like KDP and others, getting your work out there has never been easier with advice at each step of the process and online self-published communities willing to offer their brilliant expertise.

You have gone on to publish twenty novels published along with six short stories in dozens of languages, and have international best seller status. That is the dream of all authors. Can you share with authors reading this interview any tips on marketing or developing in international readership?

Establishing international readership is hard. Ideally travel to those countries and visit book shops and put your book in their hands, but even if widespread travel were possible, who has the money and time for that? This is where the world of social media and on-line forums becomes your friend. Engage on line and join in! Ask for help. Ask questions and ask these incredibly kind communities to share the love and help you.

The Boy Between is a collaborative book written with your son Josiah focused on his journey with clinical depression. What was it like working on a collaborative book? Did it put any stress on your relationship? How did you and your son solve disagreements?

Josh is severely dyslexic. The biggest challenge was getting down on paper the words that swirled and were jumbled in his head. Once we had a strategy, which relied initially on dictation, I think the biggest challenge was facing times in our life that we had shut away. Writing the book took us to some dark places, which was difficult, but ultimately cathartic. It was hugely different from writing fiction and in ways I had not foreseen. 

The weight of responsibility to do the subject of mental health justice was huge. But also, unlike in my fiction, where I get to craft the most pleasing and often neat endings, there was no opportunity to do that. It meant the whole experience was raw and far more emotionally draining than I had anticipated. I think that pain though has made the book the very best it could be. And how did we solve disagreements? With great, great patience on both sides!

What do you and Josiah most hope readers will take away from your shared story?

Our hope is that it might help just one person suffering with depression to know that they are not alone. One of its sneakiest tricks is that it can make you feel that no one else has ever suffered this way, but that’s simply not true. The sad reality is that multiple people in your street or your building will be going through the exact same thing. I hope that by reaching out, others might do the same and we hope that by speaking out, we can help move the narrative on depression forward and help smash the stigma. I think it’s also important for those who care for those suffering with depression to know that they don’t need to have all the answers and that their level of frustration and exhaustion is not unique. They too are not alone. 

As a very successful author, how do you create a quiet space to nurture the creative process so you can 100% on your writing? What do you do when it's time to stop working - whether writing or promotion? What is your relaxing guilty pleasure that lets you just shut it all down and relax?

I love this question and have just laughed out loud – I am sitting in the garden room, tip-tapping into my laptop. There are two snoring dogs on the rug at my feet. Chickens are clucking at the back door. The kettle in the kitchen is whistling. The mailman is at the front door chatting loudly to my son. My husband is talking loudly into his phone and the radio is playing in the background… I cannot imagine working in a quiet space! I grew up poor and cramped and surrounded by noise and it has stood me in good stead to be able to write anywhere! 

I don’t think I ever really stop working. I am either diving into my next project or promoting my latest book, but I remember cleaning bathrooms in office blocks – so trust me, this does not feel like work. My guilty pleasure – watching programmes like Love Island and Selling Sunset on TV! I’m sure I should say that I read Hardy and Bronte by candlelight to at least make myself look a little intellectual, but I don’t! I watch RHONY and eat toast.

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  1. Marilyn, thank you so much for featuring my me in your Q&A on your brilliant site as part of the blog tour for 'The Boy Between', I really appreciate it. Have a great day, Amanda Xx

    1. My pleasure. It's honestly my fav as I am connected with tons of authors and they love knowing how other authors get to where they are.


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