Sunday 28 June 2015

Q&A with Amanda Prowse, author of Perfect Daughter.

Hi Amanda – thanks for joining us! Can you tell us a bit about your new novel, Perfect Daughter?

Thank you for having me! Perfect Daughter is Jacks Morgan story. She lives with her family in Weston Super Mare in a little terraced house where in her words, ‘everything is in short supply, time, space and money…’ Jacks lives with her husband in a marriage that has lost its sparkle, she has two kids and also cares for her ailing mum. Her life is hard and one day she wakes and looks in the mirror, and realises that all the things she dreamed of becoming, places she thought she might visit… her dreams have disappeared. Despite its subject matter, it is an uplifting book, full of hope.

Perfect Daughter tackles the story of a ‘sandwich mother’ – as Jacks goes back and forth between her responsibilities as a mother whilst caring for her own mum, who has Alzheimer’s. What inspired you to write about this theme?

I watched my mum care for my nan who had Alzheimer’s whilst also caring for her kids and grandchildren, I saw how hard it was and know that so many people are in that exhausting, thankless position. I think these carers are hero’s, each and every one.

Jacks in Perfect Daughter often finds herself thinking back to the past and wondering how things could have been if she’d taken a different path. Do you ever think back to a moment in your life and how things could have worked out differently?

Yes, I think we all do don’t we? I wonder what my life would have been like had I had the courage to try and follow my dream earlier (I didn’t start writing until my forties) I also wonder what my life would be like now if I hadn’t found the courage when I did! I’m thankful that I started living my life, even if it was at the point when I had more behind me than ahead, I think that’s a good message, as one of my characters says, “life begins when you let it!” I think that’s true.

Did Perfect Daughter require a lot of research before writing?

Yes it did. I not only used my own observations and experiences, but I also spoke to a number of women who were in that position. Their tales of responsibility, exhaustion, joy, sadness, euphoria and desolation were all very similar. Caring for a parent with dementia is a real roller coaster and I greatly admire those that do it.

I was fascinated by Jacks’ relationships with each individual member of her family – her mother, teenage children, Pete and the person from her past. Did you have a favourite relationship to write about?

Oooh I’m glad you did, thank you! I think my favourite relationship has to be between Jacks and her daughter Martha, I loved how she tries to quietly guide her from the wings, offering wisdom and repeating the phrases that she hated hearing her own mum use! I have of course been a daughter, and am very close to my mum, but am also the mum to teens and so could see both sides! I loved writing about the tightrope that, as a parent you are forced to walk, the delicate balance between giving your children space and freedom to grow and wanting to wrap them in bubble wrap and lock them in a room to keep them safe!

Your books are always quite emotional – I do cry every time, without fail. Does the emotional side to your novels affect you when you’re writing?

I have always said my books should come with tissues and waterproof mascara! I am sorry for your tears (whilst secretly glad!) The answer is yes, they do affect me greatly. I find myself feeling quite low after writing particular scenes and have to remind myself that it’s all made up… and that I’m the one making it up! When I killed off a major character in another book, someone I had grown to love, I felt quite bereft. I do always lighten my stories with humour and real messages of hope and that helps!

What’s the greatest thing about being an author?

I think being in control of my own destiny. I work as many hours as I can because I LOVE what I do, and knowing that as a result of doing my job, I am connected to people all over the world, simply because we all share the love of a good story, is AMAZING!

Out of the books you have written, do you have a favourite? Or is that impossible to choose?

It’s hard to choose and I love them all for different reasons, Poppy Day because it was my first, Clover’s Child as it had a lot of my life and background in it and Perfect Daughter because I think the main character is quite remarkable.

How many books would you say you read in an average year?

Not as many as I’d like. That’s the one downside about being a writer, it leaves me less time for reading. I used to read a book a week, now its closer to a book a month. I miss having the time.

Is there an author that constantly writes books you’d love to have written yourself?

Isabel Allende. Every book she has written makes my favourite list. She is a wordsmith, a genius a magician!

What one novel have you read that has been the most memorable – the one that has stuck with you for the longest time – and why was that book so difficult to forget?

Great question. Lots of books have stayed with me, but I guess the one that is most prevalent in my mind is The Thornbirds, as it was the first time I got lost in a book. I was 14 when I read it and it taught me a thing or two! Phew! But also I remember thinking, if only I could make someone feel this way, give someone this escape from the every day, now wouldn’t that be something…


Buy your copy of Perfect Daughter on Amazon or add to your Goodreads TBR here.

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