Today I’m delighted to feature debut novelist Amanda Mason. I was lucky to hear Amanda speak as part of the Gothic Thriller panel within the East Riding Festival Words Murder Day. I was intrigued by the premise of her book, and fascinated by the location, story line and time frame. I’m still plucking up the courage to read it as I am a complete wimp!
Amanda Mason was born and brought up in Whitby, North Yorkshire. She studied Theatre at Dartington College of Arts, where she began writing by devising and directing plays. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies; The Wayward Girls is her first novel.
Over to Amanda
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walking. I adored this when I was a little girl, and it stands as an early example of me listening to the words of a song and trying to follow the story, something I seemed to spend a lot of my childhood doing. I used to have this as my ring tone, and I am known to quite like my shoes (and boots!).
David Bowie’s Let’s Dance. I love to dance, I love Bowie, that’s it.
The Stranglers’ Golden Brown. This was on the juke-box (and I love juke-boxes) in the Student Union at Dartington College of Arts, where I studied Theatre, and it’s this particular song that takes me right back there every time I hear it.
Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack for Once Upon A Time In America, specifically, Deborah’s Theme. I love Morricone, the film is incredible, and I associate it with a very particular time and person. Deborah’s Theme is utterly heart-breaking, and it just slays me every time I hear it.
Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper. This reminds me of school discos and being a teenager, it’s also a song I was delighted to discover was released in July of 1976, and so might reasonably be something the characters in The Wayward Girls would listen too. It’s playing in a couple of scenes, and when I finished the final edits of the novel I played this VERY LOUDLY as I danced around my flat.
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Books. When I was a child I was a relentless reader, and I still read a lot, I always have a book with me.
Films, particularly sneaking off to the cinema in the afternoon when I should be doing something serious. I love watching a film on a big screen, the sense you get of being taken out of yourself.
Perfume. I wear it every day.
The sea. I grew up on the North Yorkshire coast and I visit whenever I can, I loved living by the sea, and one of these days I’ll get myself back there.
Chocolate – I don’t eat lots of it, but sometimes it’s the only thing that will do.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self.
Trust your own judgement, it’s pretty sound.
Be as kind to yourself as you are to other people.
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. (Not my advice, but Maya Angelou’s; it’s worth passing on, anyway.)
Never pass up the opportunity to walk along a beach.
Reading all the time is fine, more than that, it is exactly what you need to do, so just crack on with all that and don’t worry about it. One day you’ll be grateful.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
I can juggle.
I used to teach one of the England’s Women’s Football Team. (I didn’t teach her football, I hasten to add.)
I lived in Italy for three years, because Don’t Look Now is one of my favourite films. I had a perfectly sensible reason to, I was working there. But the reason I applied for the job in the first place is entirely because of Don’t Look Now.
After reading The Wayward Girls people work out that I have a sister; they’re usually surprised to discover I’m the older sister, though. They think I’m Loo, but actually, I’m Bee.
What are the first
5 6 things you’d have on your bucket list?
This is very hard, because actually I’ve done a lot of things that might feature on my bucket list. But:
I’m fascinated by Polar exploration and I’d like to travel to Antarctica.
I yearn to spend just one Christmas at a remote manor house, cut off by a blizzard, and possibly be called upon to solve a mystery.
I’d love to dance the Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires.
I’d like to take part in a real paranormal investigation.
I want to see the Northern Lights.
I always loved the Ghost Story for Christmas films BBC2 showed in the 1970s, and I’d really, really like to write a contemporary one.
Many thanks for joining us today Amanda. It was great to meet you last year and to now discover a little more about you. I love your music choices – we have similar music memories. I can certainly relate to books, chocolate and the sea ( I come from a bit further down the coast) and have always been intrigued by perfume. It has taken me decades to finally find one that I can live with and I think is ‘me’. I really hope you get to tick off those bucket item lists. Needless to say I’d be running a mile from any real paranormal activity and much as I hope you get to write that Christmas ghost story, I’d have to give that a miss too.
The girls heard it first, the knocking inside the walls . . .
1976. Loo and her sister Bee live in a run-down cottage in the middle of nowhere, with their artistic parents and wild siblings. Their mother, Cathy, had hoped to escape to a simpler life; instead the family find themselves isolated and shunned by their neighbours. At the height of the stifling summer, unexplained noises and occurences in the house begin to disturb the family, until they intrude on every waking moment . . .
Loo, now Lucy, is called back to her childhood home. A group of strangers are looking to discover the truth about the house and the people who lived there. But is Lucy ready to confront what really happened all those years ago?
You can keep in touch with Amanda via