Connected by Stories
by Amanda Prowse
The thing I love most about books, is that I can travel anywhere, be plonked in any situation, I may not share the same language or culture, BUT as soon as I meet a woman who loves books, I am connected to her.
I feel a kinship to readers who share my passion, who understand the panic fluttering in my chest if I don’t have a book lined up to read next! Books, particularly books for and about women create a sisterhood that transcends all barriers; we become connected because we have travelled the same stories together.
Like all readaholics, whenever I finished a book, I would think, I can do better! Or I wish I’d written that! Five years ago, I decided to put my pen where my mouth was, so to speak. I had no idea how I would develop as an author, but knew I needed to set some ground rules. Firstly and quite simply, I decided to write the kind of books I liked to read, whose central characters hooked me, women in who I recognised my imperfect self. Secondly, to create stories that swept you away so you are no longer on the sofa or in the bath, but are taking every step with the heroine. Books that stop you turning off the lamp, no matter how early your alarm is set because you HAVE to know what happens next.
I am forty five, with two kids and married to a soldier. My house is averagely clean and not that tidy. I want to prepare healthy meals for my family, but more often than not end up shoving chicken nuggets in the oven because I’ve run out of time and they are STARVING! When I go to bed, I wish I wasn’t so fat and I wake in the morning wishing I wasn’t so tired. Sound familiar? The point I make, is that I am like any other woman you pass in the supermarket or outside school, waiting for the kids. I may be average, but like you, I am INCREDIBLE!
All families, mine included, experience death, illness, divorce, hardship, births, marriages, success and failure. Life is a journey full of twists and turns, as one of my characters says, ‘it’s a bloody hard slog with the odd pocket of joy…’
I write about ordinary women and how they cope when extraordinary things happen. We’ve all glimpsed the woman sitting opposite us on the bus or train and thought, ‘I wonder what her story is?’ I am fascinated by the image women portray and what goes on behind closed doors. Does every woman like me, flick her hair and smile even though her confidence is through the floor? Does she start a diet, breaking it two hours later then spend the rest of the day feeling guilty? Does she use her last ten pounds to buy everyone coffee, because being generous is more important than being in credit?
I believe love is the fuel that drives these women. Love is the reason we go further, fight harder and cry longer. The heroines in the ‘No Greater Love’ series are women that love without condition and fight with conviction when that love is threatened.
What Have I Done? is Kathryn’s story, she is the kind of woman we would go for coffee with, ‘a nice lady’. Which makes it all the more shocking when in the first paragraph we learn that she has murdered her husband. As her story unfolds, we learn of the double life she has lead, turning our shock into empathy and ultimately support as we will her to succeed in the life that she carves.
Someone asked me why Kathryn was so weak as to put up with her husband’s control for all those years? My answer was simple, she wasn’t. Facing the world with a smile, doing all in her power to create the illusion of a happy family for her kids, took strength, courage and devotion. It is these traits that enable her to keep going when her life has fallen apart, trying to re-connect with her children, without whom, her life is not worth living.
I write stories for women about women. I write about Poppy, Kate, Dot, Susie and others… some of them have secrets, some face great adversity, some pull through, some don’t, but each and every one of them, could be the woman you sit opposite on your journey. A woman who loves books, a woman just like you…
Amanda Prowse is the author of the ‘No Greater Love’ series of books, including Poppy Day. What Have I Done? is out now, published by Head of Zeus. Amanda divides her time between working in London and home in the West Country.