Amanda Smyth was once an actress but is now a fascinating author who has captured our attention with her short stories, as well as her novels. She was awarded an Arts Council Grant for her first novel "Black Rock," also known as "Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange."
Stories written by Amanda Smyth have been featured on New Writing, Signals 3 and broadcast on Radio 4 as part of a series.
13 Questions with Amanda Smyth
1. How do you keep your work on the cutting edge?
I’m not sure my work is cutting edge, really (!); I write in quite a traditional storytelling way. But I think it is important to keep up to speed with new literary writing.
2. How do you reset yourself to become creative? Do you have any rituals?
When I’m really into my writing, I run in the morning, come home and shower, eat a big bowl of fresh fruit and plant myself in front of my desk. The whole process is a great way to focus.
3. What is an example of a time where you have thrown away an existing idea to force yourself to find something new?
Actually, with my novel, Lime Tree, the early drafts were quite different, and I found myself struggling with a plot I’d forced onto my protagonist. It was painful to pull back and really look at which direction I should take. But then I did, and Celia showed me where she wanted to go.
4. How did you get involved in writing and what motivates you to continue?
I’ve been writing for a long time, but I didn’t start writing seriously until I was living in Trinidad with my Mum (at 30 years old!) after feeling overwhelmed by a tough career as an actress. I stripped everything back and started really writing hard. Then I met a brilliant writing teacher, Wayne Brown, in Port of Spain, and he showed me how I could get much better.
5. How significant are the topics of cool hunting and trend spotting in the world of writing?
Pretty significant, and of course there are novels and writers that have and always will have a kind of cult following. Sometimes there’s a new voice, like say, Zadie Smith, writing about a world that hasn’t been written about before, and next thing there’s a whole new number of similar novels that follow it. It’s interesting.
6. How do you define a trend?
A movement, an inclination towards something.
7. How do you define cool?
[Something that is] nifty!
8. Do you need a culture of innovation to create something that is cool?
I think so. But something cool can come out of nowhere. Like just this weekend, I was at the Edinburgh festival in a bar, and this old lady of about 80 walked in wearing a black trilby, black slacks, polo neck sweater, silver flat pumps, and her silver hair tied in a short pony tail. I watched her go to the bar, buy herself a cold beer and shuffle back through the door. This woman was the embodiment of cool. But where did she come from?
9. What is the best way to create an infectious idea, product or service?
Think first about this: what is exciting to YOU?
10. What is the key to innovation?
11. What are the most important trends you see in the writing industry?
Literature coming from all over the world. There’s a feast of great international writing to savour--from Haiti to Dominca, to Japan, Hawaii, Trinidad, UK, Ireland…
12. Professionally, what do you want to be doing or studying in 10 years?
I hope to have written two more novels. And these even better than my current one.
13. What are your most important hobbies?
I love traveling. It opens up my mind and keeps things fresh. And I love going to see movies, art exhibitions.
Pick up your copy of "Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange" to be swept away with Amanda Smyth’s imagination and words.
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