Friday 18 April 2014

The author in my spotlight is .......Amanda Hodgkinson

I am delighted to welcome to the blog

Author of

Spilt Milk



Amanda ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions 
about your latest book.

Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for Spilt Milk?

I begin writing with an image. Some small scene that captures my imagination. With Spilt Milk I saw in my mind a young woman running barefoot along a riverbank. A tall girl with long dark hair and strong legs, holding her skirts up as she ran. Why was she running so fast? Was she escaping from something? Around the same time that I began seeing this girl in my thoughts, I was staying with friends in rural Suffolk and went for a walk in the country, ending up on the banks of a small river. We were not far from main roads and modern life but there was an extraordinary timelessness to the river. I knew then, that this was the riverbank the girl ran along. This was where the novel would begin.

What can you tell us about the story which will pique the reader's interest?

Spilt Milk is a story about sisters, motherhood and love. It begins in 1913 and traces the lives of sisters Nellie and Vivian Marsh up to the 1960s. When a flood washes up a giant pike onto the sisters' cottage doorstep, Nellie is convinced that this is an omen, a sign of change. Then a travelling man arrives and both sisters fall for his charms, putting in place events that will affect not only the sisters lives but the lives of other generations to come. As Isabel Berwick says  in her recent FT review of the novel, “Spilt Milk is a refracted version of real life, that impossible mess we inherit and muddle through, yet transmuted here into something shining and meaningful, told in beautiful prose.”  

In your research for Spilt Milk did you discover anything which surprised you?

During my research into womens' lives during the twentieth century, I read a lot about the strict and controlling attitudes towards birth control and was utterly dismayed by the lack of choice and education available for most women. So often throughout that century, women faced heartbreaking choices concerning their own sexuality, love, children and marriage. Governmental control, public morality and women's lives seemed bound together in ways then which today, I think we would find hard to believe.  

Spilt Milk is your second published novel – did you feel more of an obligation to make this book even better than the first?
I did feel the pressure of writing a second novel after the first had been so well received but I also knew that I had to get on and do it anyway! And once the characters in Spilt Milk came to life, I became so caught up in the writing that those kind of worries faded from view. But yes, I do feel I am always pushing myself to write something that connects with the reader. That's the most important thing. Like most writers, I am always trying to improve my craft. 

When do you find the time to write, and do you have a favourite place to do your writing?

I am an early morning kind of writer - I love to get up when the rest of the household are asleep and go straight to work. My writing room  is my favourite place to write. I have lots of bookshelves in there so I am surrounded by my favourite authors who give me inspiration. I also have a wall covered with post-it notes and ideas. It's my dreaming room. 

Can you tell us if you have another novel planned?

I do! And I am writing it at the moment. It's set during the Second World War in south west France. The novel was inspired by two things: an image of a woman having her head shaved as a punishment for collaborating with the enemy and an old photograph I found of a peasant girl picking armfuls of wild red tulips to sell at market. 

Amanda - thank you so much for spending some time with us and for  giving such insightful answers to our questions.

It's been a real pleasure to host this interview with you. 

Jaffa and I are really looking forward to reading your next book.

Both Spilt Milk and 22 Britannia Road are available to buy from all good book shops and are available in both paperback and ebook format.


  1. Very interesting Q&A Josie. I loved 22 Britannia Road and Spilt Milk sounds just as good.

    1. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. Glad you liked the interview with Amanda. I am sure that you would enjoy Spilt Milk :)


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