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Amandababble Week Fifty-Six

Well, it’s lovely to be home after travelling hither and thither (a much underused phrase I feel!) researching an upcoming book, walking on the sand and dodging the odd swooping pelican – yes, really! They looked like Pterodactyls in flight. There was something quite prehistoric about seeing the giant birds, with their vast wingspan and huge beak plummeting into the ocean and then sitting rather smugly on the surface enjoying their spoils. They had the same look as those who vacate the drive-through car park, with chicken nuggets and chips nestling in their lap, ready for a good scoff on the way home. Eeuuuw… even writing the word chicken nugget makes me feel a little queasy. I am as ever on a quest to eat healthier, move more and take better care of me. image

It’s too easy when I am away from home and staying in hotels or spending far too much time at airports to grab a mayonnaise filled sandwich or a bag of crisps. I am making a conscientious effort to eat clean, have been doing so for ten days now and I feel…. better! A bit zingier, which is never a bad thing, not quite sure the family would agree, if anything, I think they’d prefer me a little more subdued!

I have been completely and utterly overwhelmed by the response to A Mother’s Story. The reviews are just incredible and I am so very, very thankful to every one who has put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard!) I have said it before, but writing can be a rather solitary occupation and to know that my stories have touched people makes all those dark hours feel full of light. Thank you. X

My new novel is now finished and out in July! ‘Perfect Daughter’ – is Jacks’ story. She is lovely. I really like her. A great girl, living in a slightly run down seaside town, caring for her mum who has dementia and pinning all her hopes on her daughter, to spread her wings and live the life of adventure that she didn’t have. Jacks, like everyone, has secrets and sometimes feels like she is living in a pressure cooker, smiling and trying to cope and wondering, when she looks in the mirror, ‘what happened to me? Is this it?’ I hope you like it.

I came home from my long trip away and expected a banner, maybe a balloon, a cake, sparklers you get the idea… Instead, it was a shrug from the teenagers on the sofa and a casual, ‘what’s for tea?’ I guess it shows that they are used to their mum disappearing and then popping up again. I miss them so much when I’m away, but for them life jogs on as normal and I suppose it shows they are confident that I always return eventually, shove on my pinny and whip up something inedible for tea! A funny old life really.

The day I returned I had the joy of looking after my 3-year-old nephew. (Jet lag? What jet lag?) He is my one of my most favouritist things! I love his company. I spent the day either hiding under a sofa cushion so he could ‘find’ me or running around the garden with a child’s bike helmet on my head and holding a cufflink, my ‘superhero’ costume, apparently. Not sure what superhero I was, but his powers were obviously, infinitely stronger than mine, as I spent the whole day doing his bidding. He reminds me of all that is great in the world, seeing the planet through new eyes and being curious about EVERYTHING! I wish I had half of his magic. He told me that when he was older he was going to the pub to drink beer and he would take his cousin (my beautiful niece) and she could have some wine. Don’t know where he get’s this idea from! Ahem… X

The boys have broken up for Easter and I am typing up a revision schedule for them, I’m laughing as I write that. Who am I kidding? It’s actually a piece of paper that I will stick on the fridge for them to ignore and deface with the usual graffiti and for me to cry over when the hormones are on the rage and the fact that they are not co-operating! In fact, the only way it might work is if I say, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES FOLLOW THIS ROUTINE. DO NOT STUDY! I WON’T ALLOW IT! Then there is the teeniest chance that they might adhere… worth a try. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Lot’s of exciting things coming up over the next few months. A few surprises that will be popping up, can’t wait to tell you all about them! Best way to keep in contact is to check out http://www.amandaprowse.org and sign up for the newsletter/competitions/offers etc.…

Sending you love and luck as always,

Mandy xx

©Amanda Prowse – all enquiries PFD ajhughes@pfd.co.uk. +44 (0)20 7344 1084

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Amandababble Week Fifty-Five

Hey you, well, it’s been a while.

My boys are on half term and so I have turned into the bacon sandwich and tea bearing hostess that I become when they are home. I spend the day jogging up and down the stairs with snacks, retrieving dirty laundry from the bathroom floor and driving to the train station to collect various friends who join the TV watching throng upstairs. Am I moaning? No. I absolutely love it.

In a blink, these days will be a dim and distant memory. My boys will be independent and gone from me and I shall yearn to find a stray sock on the stairs or to be called upon to whip up a cuppa.

Can you love your kids too much? I don’t think so. Outside of the house they are hard working, independent and kind so I figure a bit of spoiling once in a while does us all the power of good.

One of the boys has just completed his D of E Gold and on the day I collected him from school, he was siting on the pavement looking decidedly green around the gills, this is usually from a drop of over indulgence in the beer department but the cause of his pallor on this occasion was food poisoning!

I knew something was drastically wrong as he clambered into my trusty, rusty Golf and said, ‘I love you Mum.’ Such sentiment from him is usually only uttered when one of us has a drip in our arm! It transpires that he ate a sausage roll that had been dunked in the river “but only got a bit wet” on the first day, this was now day five and the offending pork product had been nestling in the bottom of a damp kit bag all the while – until he ate it for lunch. Even the thought makes my stomach jump and not only because I’m a raving vegetarian, as my husband likes to refer to me.

Poor old thing, he’d spent a day and night being rather ‘ill’ (I shan’t go into details) had limited sleep in a tent that “spun every time I lay down” and canoed 33k every day, stopping only to give in to his malaise at appropriate bends in the river. The poor thing.

He has however, learnt three valuable lessons. Firstly, it feels really good to achieve something in adversity. Secondly, don’t eat soggy, old, hot sausage rolls and thirdly, when your mum suggests you take Imodium, Dioralyte and wet wipes on your trip, you shouldn’t raise your eyebrows in irritation and ignore her. Just saying.

My new novel Christmas for One has been released this week and I am so very grateful for the lovely reviews – THANK YOU! I wanted to write something that was good to dip into and give us a lift when you need a break from rubbish weather, crowded shops and relatives that clog up your corridors. It’s a festive romance set in New York and London that will give you a big ‘Aaaaaaah!’ with a few ‘Oooooooh!’s along the way. You can check it out here http://bit.ly/X41Prowse Paperback is out Nov 20th – exciting! X

Next week I shall be giving a talk at Bath Waterstones; Thursday 30th October – an evening of chat about books, cancer, kids, cake and all the other things that clutter up my mind! Tickets are 3 pounds, there’s a glass of plonk included and it kicks off at 6.30 – come and say hi if you can, it would be lovely to see you. Details and tickets from the lovely Leon on 01225 448515 – it’ll be fun!

The Apprentice has started but I am still mourning the end of The Great British Bake Off and can’t commit to another series. I miss Nancy on the telly! – Someone give that woman a series. She is our very own Martha Stewart and I for one would tune in every time! Chetna could make an appearance too – they would be a dynamic duo! All those in favour say ‘Aye!’

We need more lighthearted banter, baking and good old-fashioned common sense on the TV and Nancy is the woman to provide it. Goodness me, the news is so horrid most of the time I think it would be the perfect antidote in a world gone mad.

One of my boys turns 18 this week and so we are having his family party on Sunday. The husband as you know sounds like a pirate and has decided to bury treasure in the garden and give everyone a treasure map. All good so far.

I would however like to point out that we live in a new build just off the M5 and our garden is the size of a table. This is the first problem, 16 family members with shovels will very quickly destroy our precious lawn. Secondly, he decided in his wisdom to bury the ‘treasure’ yesterday, at dusk. No, I don’t know why either. He is now not ENTIRELY sure where he buried it. I have visions of something resembling a mole fest while determined kids search in the mud for the booty. And the final problem is that if they ARE successful in digging up his old biscuit tin, they are going to be most disappointed to discover a chocolate coin and an old button. In future, think we’ll stick to charades…

Sending you love and to steal a quote from Christmas for One ‘You have to live this life, this one life that you have been given and if that means following your heart and taking a risk, then that’s what you should do. If you don’t, you might regret it forever…’
Mandy xx

©Amanda Prowse – all enquiries PFD ajhughes@pfd.co.uk. +44 (0)20 7344 1084


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Amandabakeoffbabble Week Fifty-Four

I LOVE The Great British Bake Off!

Trying to explain to a friend who watches limited television and lives on a small island, about my love of the ‘Great British Bake Off’ has proved has difficult.

‘A group of people meet up in a tent and make cakes!’ I gushed.

‘And you watch them in the tent, making cakes?’ her bewildered tone floated across the ocean.

…where to begin? How to describe the slight lift to my spirits when Wednesday draws nearer and I get to lose myself in two hours of rising yeast, piped icing and fondant creations that make my mouth water and my pulse race.

I am in awe of the talent of the amateur bakers who nod sagely at words like blanch, caramelize, combine and crimp, while I am busy Googling what on earth they might mean.

From indulgent filled breads to dramatic scenes made with nothing more than biscuit dough and a couple of cocktail sticks, this season we have had it all.

Who knew such high drama could accompany such a supposedly genteel activity? There have been accusations of sabotage, no jokes, it’s still too soon to laugh over Bingate, tears over a tart and a dismissal from the tent over fondant that was, (I shall have to whisper) shop bought! Heaven’s above.

As if getting lost in golden syrupy sponges, swirls of Italian meringue and teetering towers of pork pie, wasn’t enough, there is also the added attraction of watching the personalities at work.

I get the impression that Luis, who’s determination to reach perfection and immense design skill, is the most competitive, but he manages to hide it behind his affable Mancunian humour and support of his fellow bakers. I expect to see his creations in every glossy cake magazine – he is a master.

Richard, ah Richard, such high hopes at the sight of his perfect savoury biscuits and nothing but admiration for his one-legged biscuit pirate, but recently? I think Richard has dropped the dough ball, maybe all that sugar work has gone to his head, he is definitely off his game – here’s hoping for a resurgence of his brilliance for next week.

As a well-known actress and very talented foodie said to me yesterday, ‘Martha is not a real person, she is fashioned from the pages of an Enid Blyton novel!’ and she is! If I had a daughter I’d want her to be just like Martha, clever, sweet, gorgeous and just right the amount of funny. If she were a bake, she’d be strawberry shortcake. I LOVE that she giggles ‘I have no idea what this is supposed to look or taste like!’ and then executes it to perfection!

Funky haired Kate is fab and fizzy, I love how her spine melts in both stressful and joyful moments and she flops down onto the nearest flat surface! Paul seems to be overly critical of her bakes, often unfairly. Her star baker accolade was overdue.

Chetna is a superb baker! In my view, often underrated in the praise department, her skill and inventive use of different flavours is exciting! (Plus I love her multi earring, hippy-chick look!) Chetna rocks!

My winner however and absolute favourite is Fancy Nancy. From day one she has shone as a ‘natural’ baker, her knowledge vast, her skill enviable and her results faultless. I want to visit Nancy’s kitchen and sit at the table with a cuppa and a slice of Victoria Sandwich.

For those of you who know my books, you will know that A Little Love – is set in a stunning bakery where cakes and love are closely linked. I don’t think it’s possible to bake or give a cake without love, all that time and effort poured into a unique, welcoming gift. Is there anything nicer?

So, yes, it is essentially a show where you watch people in a tent, making cakes, but anyone who has been seduced by the baking bug will know that it is so much more than that. Cakes are childhood memories, items of celebrations, treats and a wonderful way to eat communally with people you love.

Can’t wait for next week, which I shall watch with fascination and interest as these amateur bakers produce works of art. All this talk of cake has made me hungry, off to whip up a batch of cupcakes. With fondant decorations, homemade of course.

©Amanda Prowse – all enquiries PFD ajhughes@pfd.co.uk. +44 (0)20 7344 1084


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Amandababble Week Fifty-Three

So – since I last babbled I have completed my tour of South Africa, I’ve finished my next novel ‘Christmas for One’ – my latest book Will You Remember Me? has been published in trade paperback and E-book, A Little Love is out in paperback, we have moved house (again!) I’ve done 16 radio interviews, three TV shows, 12 magazine interviews, four photo shoots and a partridge in a pear tree….!!!

I am, for the first time in years absolutely exhausted. Not just tired, but you know when you feel bone-weary, like you are lead on the inside and it takes all of your energy just to stay awake – that. And I know I need to slow down, but that isn’t an option for a wee while – maybe in a couple of weeks I might take to the sofa and only get up to visit the loo and to replenish my Pina Colada – ha! I wish.

The boys broke up for the summer a while ago and I think I saw them both for an hour or so last week. Not sure where they are lurking most of the time, but I know I miss them. I think about when they were little and the summer holidays was the greatest adventure. When not working, I’d pack up a picnic and we’d head to the fields or the beach or the back garden, we’d play under a sprinkler or fill the paddling pool and spend all day in it. Now I wash their beer soaked clothes, drive them to meet mates and drop them at train stations so they can make their way to festivals. And it happened in a blink. Do I want them to be at home with their mum? Of course not! (This is just in case they read this and I don’t want them to feel guilty, but the truth is of course I DO! I’d love them here to chat to and to sit with me in the garden! I miss them!).

Will You Remember Me? Has made quite a splash. The reviews and comments I have received are quite possibly the best I have ever received for any of my novels. Thank you for taking the story into your hearts and for writing such lovely feedback. A journalist asked me recently, ‘how could you give Poppy cancer, we love her!’ I replied, ‘that’s what cancer does, it affects people we love, it’s not discriminate, it doesn’t only aim for the wicked. It is a snapshot of real life, an ordinary family doing what we all do when that diagnosis comes, trying to get through it, nothing more, nothing less…’ You can read some of the incredible reviews here http://amzn.to/1nZiFbW and I am delighted to say that people are finding it uplifting and thought provoking – the best compliments ever. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. x

I am, as mentioned earlier, ensconced in our new little house and I LOVE it! It’s not flash or grand but it’s ours and I can for the first time paint a wall and plant a tree. You have no idea how happy this thought makes me. My neighbours have different curtains to me and do different jobs to us – only other military families who have lived in quarters will know how exciting this is! I can let the oven get dirty if I want and I can even let the grass grow long and not care a fig. Army houses, despite being ropey a lot of the time, have been a God send to us over the years, but I must confess, as I near fifty, putting the key into our little starter home and knowing that I won’t be moving anytime soon is WONDERFUL!!!!!!! I keep touching the walls and saying to the husband, ‘this is ours!’ He too loves having a garage, but doesn’t seem quite so keen on the list of jobs that I have for him. He spends hours hiding in his shed! Bless.

Another busy week beckons, I shall be on The Wright Stuff on Friday Aug 8th so tune in if you can! Right, this isn’t getting my boxes unpacked, better crack on. Rain is predicted here and I must say I rather relish the thought; just what my parched patch of grass and thirsty tubs need, plus is saves washing the cars!

I’m off to find the husband, I have a shelf that needs putting up in the kitchen –just heard the shed door hinge creak, it’s almost as if he has a sixth sense…

May your weekend by full of joy – and books!

Mandy xxxx

 

©Amanda Prowse – all enquiries PFD ajhughes@pfd.co.uk. +44 (0)20 7344 1084


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Amandababble Week Fifty-Two

Happy Anniversary!

One Year of Babbling! Wow! That’s gone quick. I have in the last fifty two weeks lived in Bermuda for a big chunk of it, visited Australia, twice, New Zealand, twice, New York, twice, Portugal, Ireland, Scotland, Honk Kong, twice, St. Lucia and am preparing for South Africa and Canada in next few weeks – no wonder I’m tired! I hate to think of how many miles I have flown.

I have also had published Clover’s Child, A Christmas Wish, A Little Love, Something Quite Beautiful, The Game, Ten Pound Ticket and have written Will You Remember Me? (out July) and Christmas for One (out November) and am half way through my novel for release Jan 2015 which is under wraps – Sssshhh… but lovely to be meeting and mixing with a whole new set of characters. I have seen my books released in German, Turkish, Polish etc and have enjoyed lovely book success all over the world including Australia, New Zealand etc.

We have moved house three times (Urgh!) We have had one marriage, (my brother Paul to the fabulous Stevie), many family birthdays and the Husband has retired (kind of!) after 30 years service in the British Army.

I would like to thank everyone that has read my Babbling over the last year and am happy to announce that next week heralds the start of something new and exciting in terms of my Blogs – watch this space! All will be revealed.

A MASSIVE thank you to Rhi who has posted my blogs with the addition of her very own inventive and amusing captions and photographs, thank you Rhi very very much. You are amazing. You too Ally! Who gives me a shove if I am late in delivering. Love you both xxx

It was also my birthday this week. Urgh – I hate my birthday and trust me it is nothing to with the inevitable aging process. I consider every year I get older to be an extreme privilege. I simply don’t like the fuss, hassle, gifts etc – when I was thirteen my parents gave me a surprise party and I hid in the bathroom until everyone had gone home. I know – I’m a weirdo! That aside the day was lovely, thank you so much for all the very kind messages. I have managed to keep my birthdate under wraps for ever – but I share it with a friend who posted on FB a message of congratulations and that was it! Cat out of the bag! No names, but thanks Tids!

I decided to let the boys choose how we celebrated so we ended up eating pizza and going to watch the X men movie, not quite my first choice, but as everyone with kids knows, if they are happy…

The best present came from the Husband, and is a flashy/health monitor thing that I wear on my wrist. If I look at a doughnut or a bag of crisps it starts beeping. Well, not quite, but it is brilliant for monitoring how many steps I have taken in my 10,000 steps a day goal. Both evenings since having it, I have been short on my goal and have marched around the block a few times to make up the difference. It’s a real motivator. Especially when your job involves sitting and writing for hours at a time – it’s good to be told to move!

The boys are still mid exams – I for one will be glad when they are all over. I took their dinner jackets to be dry cleaned after their big do last week. Margery the lady behind the counter eyed the grubby offering and sighed, ‘what did the do in them? Mud wrestling?’ I shook my head rather than confess that yes that is exactly what they did in them.

I spent a glorious afternoon with my now famous nephew, Noah, we played ‘hide a fish slice in the garden’ and then took it in turns to find it! Noah watched where I hid it, every 28 times, peeking through splayed fingers, he would then put his finger on his lips and make a great show of looking elsewhere saying ‘let me see – could it be here?’ before going and retrieving it.

I must confess to getting a little bored after an hour, when Noah put his face an inch from mine and said, ‘we have to go in now, but we can come out again after our tea!’ it was like he had been trying to keep ME occupied not the other way round! He is two and already far smarter than me… I know I know, not hard.

Right a day of writing beckons – don’t know how I’m going to cope with all the D Day celebrations this week. My grandad Joe, proud RAF man was my very favourite thing and every time I see or hear a veteran recounting their experiences I miss him so badly that I burst into tears, waterproof mascara is the only way methinks.

Love love

Mandy x

©Amanda Prowse – all enquiries PFD ajhughes@pfd.co.uk. +44 (0)20 7344 1084


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Amandababble Week Fifty-One

Bank Holiday again? Not that you will hear any moans from me. I always think that a Bank Holiday feels like an additional Sunday in the week, thrown in for good measure and that can be no bad thing, especially when the…. I was going to mention the large, warming yellow orb that hovers in the sky but remembered that I am not allowed to for fear of jinxing it! It’s the same when we go anywhere by car, the Husband says every time I utter the words ‘Ooh the traffic’s been light!’ or ‘We are making really good time!’ around the very next bend lurks a tailback, congestion, minor shunt, police road block, runaway llama… you get the picture.

My boys had a big black tie ‘do’ at school this weekend; honestly, I don’t recall anything like the level of preparation for such an event when I was their age. If we had a party, it was a case of bribing an older sibling to buy us a large bottle of cider or stealing whatever we could from my parents embarrassingly thin booze cupboard, usually cherry brandy or crème de menthe! I can’t actually write those words without gagging slightly, such is the memory of swigging the noxious liquids from the gritty top of a long forgotten bottle at the bus stop, oh the glamour!

For my boys it was very different. Dinner jackets and white shirts hung in dust covers, shoes were polished, hair cut, aftershave at the ready. They left the house looking like mini, spotty James Bond’s and smelling like they had just walked through Selfridges perfume department and got caught by everyone with a spritz of the ‘latest’ fragrance by a designer I have never heard of. The car was filled with a peculiar mixture of mouthwash, aftershave, TCP, nerves and alcohol. Beers had been drunk prior to departure and hipflasks were produced and nipped from. They contained a range of beverages from whisky to Jagermeister – I don’t even know what that is, but having being offered some, a mere sniff told me it was nothing I wanted to imbibe, reminding me of cough medicine.

Now, my boys wanted to bring the ‘after party’ back to our house and had invited eight friends to stay, making a total of 10 teens staying over. I would like to point out that we live in a 3 bed-semi – it’s not as if I could simply give the East Wing a good airing and have the butler make up the rooms. Oh no, instead, the Husband and I had to go and stay at my parents around the corner and we made up beds in the front room and on the floor of the bedrooms. We then came back on Sunday morning to ferry bacon sandwiches, coffee and Paracetamol up the stairs.

I LOVED hearing all about the party, the gaffes, the hilarity, how lovely the girls looked, what they ate etc etc.. None of this was forthcoming from my own, but their friend Charlie, who is my favourite – I even prefer him to both of mine, who will tell us anything in exchange for a bit of cooked breakfast and a place to rest his head.

I must confess to feeling a sense of relief that I am not a teenager now, as I listened to them regaling tales of the previous night’s exploits. It all sounds very complicated. Apparently gone are the days when us girls clung to the wall of the village/school hall wall, waiting for the sound of Fat Larry Band’s ‘Zoom’ to strike up and hoping you MIGHT get asked to slow dance before your dad came in and hauled you out, with a stern reminder that he’d left the engine running. Oh no, courtship 2014 is a far more complicated business.

It seems that firstly the foundations for hooking up are laid down on social media prior to the event! And there are only certain groups that interact and certain girls that you can interact with, depending on where they sit in the sporty/clever/age/hobby pecking order, who knew? One of the boy’s friends was quite melancholic, as his chances had been scuppered by one of his mates. ‘Oh no!’ I cried, ‘what did he do, go in for the kill himself? Tell her a grim secret about your personal habits?’ He shook his head, ‘worse than that, he told her that I LIKED her.’

Apparently this is a no no. You are never to tell the person you like that you actually like them in case they think that you might… like them. Confused? Sames.

When we had dispatched the young pretenders out into the Sunday afternoon sunshine, all fed, sobered up and watered, even if not fully dressed. (One without shoes or socks, two without jackets, one without trousers and one without belt, suit, shirt or wallet (Charlie)) I snuggled up to the Husband on the sofa and felt an enormous wave of gratitude that it was so less complicated in my day. I don’t know how kids cope with the immediate publication on Facebook of drunken fumbles and one too many crème de menthes. I think we got off lightly.

Turning to the Husband I said, ‘I really really like you.’

He smiled and we sipped our tea, he hasn’t chucked me yet, I might just have got away with it…

Mandy xxxx

 

©Amanda Prowse – all enquiries PFD ajhughes@pfd.co.uk. +44 (0)20 7344 1084

 

 


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Amandababble Week Fifty

Now, being married to a writer has its challenges. I speak of course on behalf of The Husband. I often wake at 3 or 4 a.m. and shout – ‘Quick! Write this down!’ as a key idea or feature often jumps into my head at this time. He never grumbles, but simply reaches for a notebook and pen (or iPad) and I dictate to him for a few minutes. I then fall straight back to sleep, but apparently he lays there for quite a while, wondering if I will be jumping up again any time soon… Similarly, I wake at 5.45 every day and leap from our bed with a thought that needs to get tip tapped onto my screen.

My brain seems to be at it’s most fertile in the wee small hours and as dawn breaks, I have woken with whole books in my head or great characters or sometimes it is simply an image, a sliver of life that I want to capture. Some you will be familiar with, i.e the final peg scene in ‘What Have I Done?’ And the Barcelona scene in ‘A Little Love.’

We have a little ritual The Husband and I, we have our first coffee of the day, toe to toe on the sofa and I tell him all about my dreams, ideas and musings of the previous night. I always ask him what he dreamed of and he replies every time with ‘I can’t remember.’ This makes me feel very sad, as my dream life is something I treasure and nurture and I know my life would be a lot less rich without it.

Well, JOY UPON JOY! This morning, as we sat toe to toe on the sofa, The Husband grinned at me and said, ‘for the first time in years, I am happy to report that I remember some of my dream!’ ‘Yeeeeha!’ I shouted, a breakthrough indeed, ‘what did you dream?’ I sat forward eagerly cupping my coffee to my chest, wanting to hear the detail. He coughed and smiled, ‘I dreamt I was getting a token for the car park.’   …I’m still dumfounded, it’s taken years of patient coaxing and THAT is the best he can do? Jheesh.

Our house is still in the grips of the nasty virus – it’s been nearly ten days and I am only just starting to feel more human. I feel like Sleeping Beauty after a finger prick – I want to sleep 24/7. One of our boys has it and is smack bang in the middle of his exams, I feel so sorry for him. He is finding it impossible to revise and has zero energy – the worst timing possible. Luckily the motto in our house is, ‘they are only exams, and they don’t matter.’ We’ve never thought that academic qualifications are a measure of how clever someone is. Maybe we’re a bit odd in that respect, but I have infinite admiration for anyone that can make something out of wood, but someone that has a First – meh…

I have been writing like crazy and am loving the novel that I am working on. This one comes out in Jan 2015 and is quite possibly my most explosive in terms of punching you in the gut and taking you on a journey. I think it will be controversial but gripping and as ever, the main character Jessica is someone you will carry in your heart and your head. Oh dear, tearing up as I think of what Jessica is going through. Poor little love.

Don’t know if I have told you this before, but when I write something particularly harrowing (as I have in many of my novels i.e Dot saying goodbye in Clover’s Child and Poppy realising Martin has been taken in Poppy Day) I can’t leave the page like that over night as I can’t bear to think of my characters left like that without knowing what is happening next. I get around this by finishing off the paragraph with something like ‘and they all went to the beach and had a lovely picnic in the sunshine!’ or ‘she found herself in a lovely little seaside café having afternoon tea!’ just so they have a nice time and then in the morning I delete the line and carry on… is that bonkers? Probably.

Right – sun is shining through the window and I have a wedding to attend, not literally you understand otherwise I’d look a bit silly turning up in my pyjamas and my bunny ear headband!

Love IS the answer.

Mandy xxx

©Amanda Prowse – all enquiries PFD ajhughes@pfd.co.uk. +44 (0)20 7344 1084