I’m very pleased to introduce fellow Urbane published author Amanda Saint on my blog today. Only released in April this year, As If I Were A River is Amanda’s debut novel and has already received some rave reviews. It was selected as a Netgalley Top 10 Book of the Month for May 2016 and included in the WHSmith Travel Fresh Talent promotion.
Alison Moore, Man-Booker shortlisted author of The Lighthouse, says of As If I Were A River: “Amanda Saint’s intricately plotted debut novel is a juicy Pandora’s box of mysteries and revelations.”
As well as being a novelist, Amanda is also a short story writer and features journalist. She also runs her own creative business, Retreat West, providing all sorts of writing events. A nomad at heart, her feet haven’t stopped itching yet so she keeps on moving.
Today, looking at the idea of missing people, Amanda discusses some of her research behind her debut novel.
The premise of my debut novel is built around people that have gone missing but also about missing people, both in the physical sense as they are not there anymore but also in the emotional sense of wondering what might have been if they were still around.
One of the narrators is Kate, the youngest generation of three women in a family who tell the story. The story starts when her husband, Jimmy, vanishes and she has no idea what has happened to him or where he might be. But this serves as a catalyst for her to confront the issues she has been holding onto since childhood when her mother left the family and was never seen or heard from again. How this has affected everything she’s done since and how her personality has developed.
In researching the novel, I read many stories and watched documentaries about people who had gone missing, spoke to volunteers at the Missing People charity, and questioned the police in the local missing persons unit where I was living at the time. This helped me to create a realistic scenario around how Jimmy’s disappearance would be dealt with on an official level.
For the emotional reaction, I spent a lot of time just sitting and thinking about how I would feel if it happened to me and suddenly my life was no longer going to be what I thought it was. But in order to really create a compelling story I needed more conflict for Kate, there needed to be something else from her past that would add more pressure and that’s when I realised her mother, Laura, had disappeared from her life too. Once this piece of the puzzle fell into place the story really took off.
But I realised that part of the reason I was so interested in missing people is that my life has this theme running through it too. I didn’t meet my biological father until I was in my thirties; at the time when I started writing this story my husband hadn’t seen his sister for about 15 years and, due to a family falling out I wasn’t a part of, I hadn’t seen any of my cousins, aunts and uncles for about 20 years. So I had done a lot of that wondering about what relationships might have been if people had stayed around.
All of this fed into each of the three women’s narratives who tell the story and although it is a very sad tale, there is also a strong vein of hope, optimism and redemption running through it. Now that I’ve had time to step back from the story and be a bit more objective about it – I think what it essentially boils down to is that all you really need is love.
Purchase As If I Were A River here.