Please give a warm welcome to a personal friend and new author Amanda Ward, as she answers my nosy questions.
Great to have you here, Manda, and congrats on your new release :-)
Thank you Doris for having me on here.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
A. I'm a full time mum to 7 children and a grandmother to Tyler from my eldest child Kathy. The youngest 3 who are 10, 6 and a very active toddler, live with me and my husband Matt in Luton together with our two insane cats Merlin and Arthur. I have been a reader pretty much since I could string words together, and thanks to my grandmother, I have had a wide range from Enid Blyton, to L M Montgomery, Beatrix Potter and Judy Blume as I went into teenagerhood. I found A Race for Love in my nans bedroom and was hooked immediately.
Q. What made you write ‘this’ story?
A. Ahh darling Pann started out as an erotic short story on my blog Kook's Nook. I was asked by my publisher if I had a series of short stories inside me, and immediately thought of Pann. She is a woman of a certain age, who decides to take a year off and travel around the USA in a RV in the search for new experiences and perhaps love. She is really fun to write, and when I write her, I can picture the story as a comedy series. If anyone remembers a programme called the Gilmore Girls, Joe is based on Luke Danes. That should get some fans going! There are thirteen stories in this series including an Olympic one. Each story features a different state, musical, food and a recipe.
Upcoming stories will include Pann and Calamity Jane. Pann visiting The Blue Ridge Mountains. She also visits Amish county and Colorado. So there is plenty of trouble for Pann to cause. I'm currently thinking about Pann visiting Seattle and maybe a 'Twiglet' adventure.
Q. Tell us about your cover.
A. Well, Pann is an English rose, and these are woven throughout the stories. The roses are my favourite colour and in the background is a road leading to new adventures and are the flower of love!
Q. Describe a typical day’s writing for us
A. There is never a typical day in this house. At the moment the kids are on school hols until early September. I will try and write when inspiration strikes. Usually though I tend to wait until the kids are in bed, or go upstairs over the weekend while Matt has the kids and write. For some reason, I am a HUGE procrastinator and can often be found looking on FB, or other things when I am supposed to be writing. If anyone sees me, please remind me to get back to the grindstone.
I tend to sit in the living room with the laptop so I can be amongst all that is happening, when I go on my main computer, then chaos ensues.
Q. What inspires you?
A. Everyday life. The fun and foibles that happen on a day to day basis.
My life tends to be full of quirkyness with a disaster lurking when I turn my eyes to the screen.
Apart from that, I would have to say the old 50s musicals, Gilmore Girls, The Waltons and just an old fashioned love story.
Q. If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
A. Well, I am taking the first steps this year to hopefully becoming a tour guide in a stately home with the first of an OU course, which could lead to a BA in History if I stick with it.
I love history and books, and combining both would be marvellous. Of course because of the hours of work, I would have to wait until Edward is at secondary school, which gives me plenty of time to get my degree.
Q. Do your characters ever surprise you?
A. Oh gosh Yes. Pann and Laura (from Without Saying A Word) are doing things that I can dream of. It's quite fun really to go through it with them! Also I am working on something completely new at the moment, and all I can say is wow!
Q. What could not do without when you’re writing?
A. Tea, laptop and quiet! Also photos posted on FB of gorgeous men lol
Short sweet answer, just like me grins
Q. What words of wisdom do you have for the aspiring authors out there?
A. Be yourself. Keep your own voice and never give up no matter what the gremlins in your head say. It is achieveable!
Q. Where do you see yourself in ten year’s time?
A. Alive hopefully!
Seriously though walking into a library and seeing my book being borrowed. Receiving my degree and possibly moving up to the North West when my husband retires.
Q. Do you have a favourite quote?
A. “I love you just the way you are” from Bridget Jones
“I went looking for my ideals outside of myself. It's not what the world holds for you, it's what you bring to it. All my hopes and dreams are right here” from Anne of Green Gables.
Q. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
A. YES!!!. However a visit from Doris can usually unblock it!
Q. What other books can your readers look forward to?
A. Merlot Mayhem is released on the 12th August, a great day as its my birthday. Pann gets up to all sorts of trouble in Martha's Harbour, and we find out a bit more about her.
September is busy as Pann 3 is released. This time she will be in Boston. Beans, a tea party, the Cheers bar and the Liberty Bell. Well, what chaos could she cause?
Coming on the 14th September is my first full length novel Without Saying A Word. It's my first over 50k book, and I fell in love with Rhean. Not only because I made his name up, but because he's a younger good guy who gets the girl. He's also a virgin and a an Earl to boot. The Headmaster thing is an added bonus, as well are his tumbling black locks and midnight blue eyes! scuse me while I sit here and fall into Rhean heaven.
Q. And finally can you share an excerpt with us?
A. This is from Pann Haggerty Merlot Mayhem. Just a teaser!
We'll Travel Along, Singing A Song. Side by Side
The air conditioning was on full blast and the RV cabin was ringing to the sound of Pann's raucous voice as she sang Cockney songs completely off key. They were travelling north towards Martha's Harbour through Connecticut, but to make the rather short journey more interesting, they had stopped off in New London and Norwich. On their second night in the van, Joe had come to several conclusions while lying in bed feeling the rumble as Pann slept deeply. One; that Pann was, using her words, 'totally bonkers'. Two; that she could snore loudly (wow!). Three; she was a complete disaster in the kitchen and finally four; Pann was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, although she didn't know it yet.
Joe had taken over the driving on a permanent basis after surving Pann playing dodgems on the highway. She could NOT tell her left from her right, had no sense of direction, and was completely clueless about driving in the States. Calling out "Ooops, I'm dreadfully sorry," as she had swerved into a junction cutting off the driver behind her, was all Joe could take. Especially as Pann had taken her eyes of the road to lean out the window and apologise. He had yelled out "Brake Crazy Lady", just before she had hit the sidewalk. From then on, Joe had driven. His heartrate had returned back to normal, and he had double checked that his health insurance was up to date. Three days with Pann felt like a lifetime. Smiling to himself as he drove towards the harbour town of Woods Hole, where they were to get onto a ferry, it had been the most fun that he'd experienced in a long while. Pann had complained for a while about not seeing the States when they'd visited New London and Norwich, saying that she had visited the originals. It hadn't stopped her from buying a china mug in each town though. As a surprise Joe had found a gold pink rose pin whilst in Norwich. She had squealed in delight when he had told her that Norwich was known as the 'Rose of New England' and she wore it continuously.
Joe had a hunch she was singing London songs to annoy him, or to prove a point. Both of which had just washed over him. Pann was completely ditzy, and perhaps acting this way was her way of relaxing and being herself. Her accent changed on a regular basis, becoming downright snooty when she was irked, or very 'Souf Lundonish' when she was trying to be funny. Joe enjoyed her company, the way she changed subjects randomly, bursting into song when something she saw reminded her of one. Pann had told him that she sometimes had trouble sleeping. Going on the way the rv rumbled in time to her 'deep breathing' as Pann referred to it, Joe could only surmise that she was content. When asked the other morning if she knew she snored, Pann's reply was
"Well I can't hear it, so what are you moaning about?"
At that moment Joe decided to give up.
He chuckled to himself about Pann's comments to do with the towns that were along their route. She had said rather pointedly that,
"They aren't towns. They are villages" without taking her eyes from the road, the many individually styled houses, and their gardens bursting with bright colours.
"Over here we refer to them as towns"
"I suppose over here, London would be the size of a town then. Going on how big New York is" Pann had retorted snootily but had gone back to staring out the window, occasionally sipping tea from a travel mug.
That was the other thing about Pann that Joe thought was cute. She never went anywhere without a small bag of her tea and flatly refused to drink coffee. She waxed lyrical when he had cooked her a steak and jacket potato. Simple food, she told him, and the steak had so much flavour. Where she had pulled out French mustard from, Joe had no idea. She even enjoyed shopping for groceries, he thought in amazement, trying to ignore her singing.
Thank you to my darling friend Doris for having me on her blog. I really appreciate this.
I hope anyone reading will be interested in Pann Haggerty and Without Saying A Word.
Pann Haggerty is a set of short stories and all the mayhem an Englishwoman can get up to in America. Its fun, full of laughter and romance too. Plus there are nice recipes at the back, including a non-sink version of cottage pie. If it does sink, feel free to email my mother in law as its her recipe lol.
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If you leave a comment below, I have copies of Pann Haggerty 1&2 on PDF to give away AND a bookmark and card for one lucky commentator. PLUS, I will pick a commentator (apart from my husband) if you leave a comment on my website to win a copy of Without Saying A Word and bookmark, when they are released.
I hope anyone reading this decides to follow Pann on her journey around America. As I said, they are fun to read, and very much fun to write.
Thanks for stopping by Manda and good luck with your new release. Don't forget to leave a comment folks, to be in with a chance to win.