June 2011


Amanda Brobyn’s first novel Crystal Balls came out earlier this year and her second novel The Curry Club is out soon. She has a MA in Film and TV Production. Originally from Liverpool, she now lives in Northern Ireland with her family. Her website is (Interview by Shirley Benton-Bailey)

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  1. 1. Tell us about your debut novel Crystal Balls.

    Crystal Balls is about a girl who becomes addicted to living her life through the support of psychics and mediums until she realises that her life has become one big mess and she learns fast that she needs to put it right - on her own. Tina, subconsciously, took her own meaning out of every reading and as such the lure of the crystal ball didn't quite work for her the way she had planned for it to.

  2. 2. Did you always aspire to be a writer?

    As a child I was always fascinated with words and stories. I used to take the dictionary to bed! I wish I could tell you I'm lying but I was that sad! I started off as a script-writer and one day I decided to write Crystal Balls as a novel instead of a script. I sent it off to a couple of publishers and it worked! I got a three-book deal on the back of it. I've just started on an adaptation of the book as a feature film and plan to send it to Working Title Productions as soon as the first draft is complete. Richard Curtis - the director - is my hero.

  3. 3. What is your approach to writing a novel - do you do an outline, plan the book chapter by chapter or just go with the flow and see where the story takes you?

    I always plan the subject matter and the characters, including their characterisations before I begin every book. As long as you have a believable and strong cast I think you can't go too wrong with the book. In terms of their journeys though, that can change. When I finished The Curry Club - book 2 - I found one of the male characters going in a direction which I just didn't see coming. I was so chuffed with the outcome that I patted myself on the back! Sometimes you get a moment of euphoria during a book and that was mine!

  4. 4. How long does it take you to write each book?

    It generally takes about a year - I think - to write two drafts. The Curry Club only took me 9 months but that was because I was finishing off my dissertation for my MA in Film and TV Production, and I didn't have the full year to write it. I think I'm one of these people that works best under pressure though because I'm really proud of the end result.

  5. 5. Which books or authors have had the biggest impact on you?

    I adore Cathy Kelly and her Past Secrets was a big inspiration for Crystal Balls because of the psychic links in it. I also think Jane Costello is amazing, plus she's a fellow Liverpudlian. Marian Keyes is a must too. There are just too many to choose. I've recently finished Emma Donoghue's Room and it was possibly the best book I have ever read.

  6. 6. How do you feel about the chick lit label?

    There are times when I've felt it undermines the author but there are other times I think what does it matter about categorisation. So long as the reader enjoys the book which they've spend their hard-earned money on, I personally don't care what category I fall into. I want to be a damn good writer and make people happy. Everything else is out of my control.

  7. 7. Which comes first for you - characters or plot?

    Characters come first in addition to the subject matter - hand in hand in fact. I always knew I wanted to write a comedy about psychic mediums so Crystal Balls was an easy one and for that, the characters followed. For The Curry Club, the premise also came first quickly followed by five central female characters who are so opposing that it makes for a great read. I loved writing the bitchy scenes in it!

  8. 8. Which one of your characters do you identify with the most?

    I can identify with Helena from The Curry Club mainly because she works for a bank - but still wishes she doesn't. That's exactly how I felt when I spent 17 years in banking. I hated it so much towards the end that I left without a job to go to. A week after I handed my notice in though, the book deal landed through my letter box! Thank you Perfect Timing.

  9. 9. Do you prefer writing in the third or first person?

    I loved the first person vernacular of Tina in Crystal Balls but I sometimes found myself restricted by what she might do or say in terms of how she would describe things because it was her own take on life. I personally find that in third person you can be more descriptive but that's my own choice. I'm deliberating whether to write book 3 in first or third actually. We'll soon find out.

  10. 10. What's been the biggest lesson you've learnt about publishing?

    I know how long it takes to make it as a big name and I've such respect for the likes of Patricia Scanlan, Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly etc. because the staying power you have to have to write book after book is amazing. Hats off to them. The lesson I've learned is to be patient and that it will happen but not in my own timescales - just when the public decide.

  11. 11. What's the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

    Just write. Don't talk about it but write and re-write. It's as simple as that.

  12. 12. What are you working on at the moment?

    The Curry Club will be released in autumn of this year and it is about five women who come together to add spice to their life. From one bowl a curry is served and from another bowl a slip of paper is pulled out for reading. Typed for anonymity, it holds a problem or issue which one of the woman is facing and that issue then becomes the topic of conversation for the evening. I love the fact that nobody knows just whose life they're dissecting yet they’re offering free advice and often heated opinions. The Curry Club ... completely confidential ... even from those around the table.

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