Susi Qs – Week 17 – Amanda Jennings

Today’s guest is one of my favourite authors and all round favourite people: Amanda Jennings. Amanda writes psychological dramas including The Cliff House, In her Wake, and The Storm. She is currently writing her sixth book. Or should be. She is probably staring out of the window. 

Let’s have it, Jennings…

How many times have you watched Top Gun?

I’m not sure I can give you the exact number. More than ten less than 20? I had a huge crush on Val ‘Ice Man’ Kilmer and the volleyball scene was quite the moment for 13yo old me. When I watched it with my eldest daughter, and she saw the sad scene, you know the one (no spoilers), she turned to me in horror and said, ‘Please tell me he’s ok?’ I laughed and said, ‘Nope, this is the kind of trauma we had for entertainment growing up. That’s why Gen X are all so screwed up’.

Tequila Sunrise or Pina Colada?

Pina Colada, baby! On a beach. Sand in my toes. Sea lapping… Oh god. Why am I not there RIGHT NOW??

Why are coconuts so difficult to open?

Because if you are stranded on an desert island and the only food is coconuts you want to make sure it takes a few hours of your time to get the suckers open. Something to do, innit.

What’s your secret party piece?

I watched Audrey Horne tie a cherry stalk into a knot in Twin Peaks and thought, ‘That’s ridiculous, nobody can do that.’ Anyway, next time I had cherries I tried it. KNOCK ME DOWN WITH A FEATHER if I didn’t find I could do it. I have to gurn like I’m passing a hard-to-open coconut while I do it, so I wouldn’t call is a sexy party trick, but it’s pretty cool.

What was the first gig you went to?

I’m getting PTSD remembering this, but it was Iron Maiden when I was fifteen. My dad is a dentist and he was given VIP tickets to see them at Wembley by a patient of his, who happened to be Nicko McBrain, the drummer for the band. So my parents took my twelve year sister and I. My dad wore salmon pink trousers and a collared shirt, and my mum wore high heels and and a smart jacket, and seemed to think it was perfectly ok to wander around amongst all these hardcore, very cool, heavy metallers with our stupid VIP badges on. I walked the obligatory ten metres behind them, of course, but every moment was excruciating.

What’s your favourite joke?


Q: What do you do with a spaceman?

A: Park in it, man.

Did you like school?

I loved school. I know. I’m weird. I loved school dinners and the fact that all my friends were there. I loved breaking the rules and putting on plays and passing notes in class and getting gold stars. I even loved exams. School was basically a place where there was a lot of opportunity to have a lot of fun. I think, despite aspirations of being an unconventional rebel, I am essentially addicted to timetables, institutional food, and being told what to do. Unless the rule is ‘Don’t walk on the grass’. If I see a sign telling me not to walk on grass it’s a physical impossibility not to walk on the grass…

What’s your most unrealistic ambition?

I’m not a massively ambitious person. I don’t really have any hard and fast goals. But maybe winning a best actress Oscar? Yeah. That would be cool. I mean, I’d have to get an acting job first.

Do you find it hard to take criticism?

Nobody likes criticism, do they? I always feel floored by it, but then tend to get the bit between my teeth and say, ‘Right, fine, I’ll do again,’ then grumble and swear and do it again and realise the criticism was totally right and grudgingly admit it.

What’s the worst place you’ve been sick?

My best friend and I went down to my gran’s house in Cornwall for a weekend away from university when we were about twenty. Gran lived in a bungalow nowhere near anywhere to go out for a drink. So the two of got hammered on gin and tonics at home. When I ran to the toilet to be sick, my friend was already there, being sick herself. She waved me away. Hand over my mouth, I ran into the bathroom and was sick into my gran’s pink bathtub. I had to get up at six in the morning and try and force it down the plughole and unblock the drain outside. Well, you did ask.

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If you want to know more about Amanda, you can find her on twitter @MandaJJennings. Her books can be purchased HERE.


I’ve got a book coming out, you know . . .

One of my new photos 🙂

Another mad week in the world of a statistician/author who wishes someone would event longer days… As well as work, this is what I’ve been up to: 

  • Finishing an article for a magazine that will be out in June (exciting, and more details to follow soon!)
  • Getting some new publicity photos taken by the lovely Melanie Moss (great fun and I am really pleased with them – you can view a selection here)
  • Having a ‘home alone’ writing retreat, where I managed to write 10,000 words on Sat/Sun (very tough, especially on day two)
  • Reading… I finished these:
  • Doing a library event at Molesey Library with Louise Voss (brilliant night with a lovely audience)
  • And now I am getting prepared for my trip to Newcastle Noir, where I am doing a panel with Sarah Ward, Helen Cadbury and Amanda Jennings, chaired by crime legend Barry Forshaw, author of Brit Noir (out now)

It’s all go, as usual. Oh, and did I mention that Willow Walk is out in eBook next week?? To celebrate that, I’ve got a Goodreads Giveaway for a signed paperback, running now – click here to enter …and I will have exciting news about the launch nights for the Willow Walk paperback very soon – but as a heads up – if you are in London on 2nd June, or Edinburgh on 23rd – keep your evening free 🙂
Sign-up here if you want to read the opening chapters right now!
(Includes a free Davie Gray short story)

Latest Crime Reads: Coming Soon in 2016

I’ve got the year off to a great start by picking up early copies of these four beauties – all crime, but all very different. If you’re looking for books to add to your wishlist and you want to topple that TBR pile over once and for all, take a look at these:

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 13.43.38‘The Birdwatcher’ by William Shaw

This is the first of Shaw’s books I’ve read, and I was intrigued by the title and the blurb… “Police Sergeant William South has a reason for not wanting to be on the murder investigation. He’s a murderer himself.” As it turns out, this is a read-in-one-sitting standalone mystery surrounding South’s dead neighbour and fellow birdwatcher, Bob. The slightly bleak south coast setting draws you deep inside, and the parallel story about South’s early years in Northern Ireland is equally compelling. Excellent characterisation brings this neatly woven tale to life, and I kept imagining it on screen. Don’t miss this one.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 13.45.29‘In her Wake’ by Amanda Jennings

Oh my God. THIS BOOK. I’d heard so many good things, but I didn’t expect it to blow me away quite in the way that it did. It’s a psychological thriller, but mixed in with the intrigue, pace and clever reveals, there is the incredibly beautiful writing. I’ve read and loved all of Jennings’ books, but in this one she has upped her game considerably. A heartbreaking story of a missing child and the horrific consequences for all involved, this is a book to be read in one sitting, in a state of total immersion. Deserves to be huge.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 13.49.24‘Viral’ by Helen Fitzgerald

This is the story of Su-Jin, who after being coerced into a trip to Magaluf with her sister, ends up doing something that is set to ruin not only her own life, but that of her high-profile mother, and destroy the family as a whole. Based on the controversial first line (which you’ll have to discover for yourself) the rest of the book came as a bit of a surprise. Fitzgerald’s trademark caustic wit prevails, and yet it is really a story about discovery, about finding out who you really are. Although devastating in parts, it is an expertly written, cautionary tale and it more than deserves to go the way of its title. Fantastic. Check out the fab promo video HERE.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 16.30.58‘Bad Samaritan’ by Michael J. Malone

I’ve only read one of Malone’s books before – the excellent Beyond The Rage, featuring Kenny O’Neill. This book is part of the Ray McBain series (also featuring O’Neill), and at first it seems to be a fairly straightforward procedural – a girl has been murdered… and there’s a creepy killer on the loose. BUT this book is so much more than that. McBain and O’Neill are fantastic characters, as are the whole plethora of supporting cast. I flew through this, thinking I had it all worked out, and then… I didn’t. With some excellent twists and turns and an ending that will leave you quite literally stunned, this is one to seek out. Fast.

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What have you been reading this year so far? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be sharing some exciting news about my forthcoming novel, Willow Walk, very soon… Sign-up HERE for occasional updates, exclusive giveaways and competitions

Books I’ve Enjoyed in 2013

There are a lot of ‘best books of 2013’ posts circulating at the moment, so I thought I’d share with you the books I have enjoyed this year, not those necessarily published this year… although I am not selecting those that come out early next year (even though I have read them…) Confused? Ok, in no particular order – I really liked these:

Merry Christmas!