Heidi, as you know, inspiration for writing comes from many, and sometimes quite unlikely places! Below are a few of the inspirations for my new novel, An Amsterdam Affair.
My first degree was in illustration at Chelsea School of Art and in 2005 I completed an MA in Writing the Visual in Norwich at NUA. Since then I have worked across both disciplines of Art and Creative Writing. Almost all my writing draws upon my background as an artist. An Amsterdam Affair picks up on some of the themes I wrote about in Laura’s Handmade Life: art, craft, textiles, architecture, painting. I also use artistic motifs as settings. For example, in An Amsterdam Affair, Maggie Hambling’s shell sculpture on Aldeburgh beach, is a key location for a romantic tryst. However, this time round I wanted to challenge myself to have two narrators: Matty, an eighteen-year-old art student and his mother Sam, art librarian and wild swimmer.
As the author I made artworks (as if I was the protagonists) – in the manner of William Boyd’s, Nat Tate. This cross-discipline approach was supported by the Arts Council, who awarded me a Grant for the Arts to write a novel, where the key characters are artists and use art to sustain and explore themselves. Although, unlike Nat Tate, I made a decision to not include the works in the novel – as I wanted the writing to carry meaning and allow the reader to use their imagination.
I also write and paint the landscape, from memory, sketches, en plein air. I have just had a painting shortlisted for the Holt Festival Art Prize. In many ways the settings in An Amsterdam Affair are almost characters in themselves, reflecting the main characters’ changing moods and emotions. Sam, one of the story’s narrators uses a beach hut as her studio. I write about East Anglian big skies, the sea, windswept beaches and flat landscapes both sides of the North Sea.
Having said all of the above, the plot of An Amsterdam Affair is very much character driven and about the search to unravel a family secret which spans across the North Sea from Great Yarmouth to Amsterdam. Without giving any spoilers, there is a nugget of a true story – about the way families come apart and back together again.
Whilst working on my manuscript I began to hear more and more about notions of creative living (making art, writing, music). I am a great admirer of Elizabeth Gilbert’s (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) Big Magic, a non-fiction book on creative living and its wonders. This really struck a chord with me as last year I taught the Art Module on the Arts & Wellbeing degree at City College, Norwich.
An Amsterdam Affair is out now.
An Amsterdam Affair is a bitter-sweet family saga about searching for lost love and how families come undone and are re-made. At the heart of the story is a family secret. If you enjoyed Last Tango in Halifax: the inter-generational themes of romance, second-chances and how the internet and Social Media can change our relationship with the past and each other; or the seaside and painting motifs in Notes for an Exhibition; or the art & craft themes of my previous novel, Laura’s Handmade Life, this may be the book for you!
Amanda Addison is a graduate of the Chelsea School of Art and holds an MA from the Norwich School of Art & Design. She lectures in Art & Design and Creative Writing and taught art and design for a number of years, winning awards for her paintings, illustrations and textile works. She had been the Travel Writer/Illustrator for a range of articles for the Archant Newspaper Group.
Her hand embroidery featured in public collections, including that of the Redditch Needle Museum, and provides inspiration for much of her novels which taps into the popularity of vintage fashion, the love of handicrafts and the drive for creative identity and self-sufficiency.
Her only previous full-length novel, Laura’s Handmade Life, was published by Little, Brown to great acclaim and has been translated in several languages. Following consultation with library staff and the public, Laura’s Handmade Life made it into final 12 works of fiction for Norfolk Narratives 2014.
Amongst numerous awards, her short story, Alternative Renditions, a re-telling of traditional fairy tales, was selected by Bridge House Publishing, and she was runner-up for the Cinnamon Press Novella Award.
Amanda was awarded an Arts Council grant to develop her novel, Picasso, Cream Horns and Tulips for Alice. It explores themes of art, creativity and identity and is out now, with the revised title, An Amsterdam Affair.
Currently, Amanda has a painting selected for the Holt Festival Art Prize – exhibited as part of the festival and is on to the Longlist of the Commonword Diversity Writing for Children Prize with her novel for 9-11 years, Billy's World Class Bake-Off.