…with Amanda in the Summer
I’m so excited to have friend and sister WRP author of Honey on White Bread, Brenda Whiteside on the blog! I had another guest who was supposed to be here but couldn’t make it so Brenda graciously agreed to fill the slot. (Mostly because, due to family issues I failed to post her on Friday. My sincerest apologies for that!)
But welcome, Brenda!
Calisa, thank you so much for having me today.
How did the writer’s journey begin for you?
I think I’ve been writing all of my life. As far back as the early years of grade school, I remember writing letters to anyone who would answer me back. School got me hooked on reading and writing. But I also loved art and thought becoming an artist was my destiny. It wasn’t until after college that I found more satisfaction filling a blank page with words than an empty canvas with color. I left my paints behind.
Although I didn’t start out to write romance, I’ve found all good stories have to involve complicated human relationships. I’ve also learned, no matter a person’s age, a new discovery is right around every corner. Whether humorous or serious, straight contemporary or mystery, all my books revolve around those two facts.
Tell us three things about you-the writer-readers wouldn’t typically know.
1. I’m a workaholic. My husband says I don’t know how to relax. What he doesn’t understand is that all of my writing activities are so enjoyable that I don’t mind the exhaustion.
2. I’d like to write a true literary novel. To me that means a book that doesn’t really fit into any genre and appeals to a wide range of readers. It would be a book about ordinary people living extraordinary lives. The reader would be so enchanted by the characters that there wouldn’t need to be any conflicts besides those we all live with everyday.
It all began when…
Amanda in the Summer came to me from the title. And I got the title from a wedding invitation that was folded in such a way the words came together – Amanda in the Summer. It sounded so whimsical.
Where did you get the premise for this book?
Like I said earlier, I loved to write letters as a child and then as a teen. Letter writing has since nearly disappeared in our fast-paced society. Because the title sounded whimsical and I romanticize the 1940’s in my head, I started from there – a letter written in the 1940’s. I have to admit that as I started doing some research, a story unfolded without a lot of effort. I looked up the meaning of Amanda which is one who is loved or some variation depending on the site you read. Love led me to look up Venus, and I stumbled on the Transit of Venus. That gave me a time frame for a long period of time (fifty-seven years) and so I chose to write letters from three generations of women, all named Amanda.
What stands out about this story that made writing it different for you?
Telling a story in the form of letters was new. The letters are all written to the same woman and although we never hear from her, we get to know her as well as the three generations of Amandas.
Were there any difficult challenges or special subject matter you came across while writing this book?
I certainly had to keep a timeline going. Each Amanda is pregnant with the next Amanda. The letters are written only during the summer and over the course of fifty-seven years. When I stumbled on the Transit of Venus, which is a rare occurrence, and I wanted to use it for a couple of the Amanda’s birth dates, I had to make the time line fit. The transit happens when Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth or some other planet.
What about this book would make us want to read it more than others of similar taste?
Female friendships can run very deep. We don’t see many movies or read many books about female friends. We get a lot of guy buddy stuff. I hope this story will make you smile and make you cry.
Three generations of women…and the secret that strengthens their love.
A line of women, all named Amanda, stretches back for generations. Each with her hopes, her joys, her pain—each pouring out her heart in correspondence with a dear family friend who shares their lives, understands their loves, and joins in their sorrows.
But within the correspondence lies a secret. And as the youngest of the Amandas retraces the journey through the years—beginning in post-war America and following through to modern day—the letters reveal, layer by layer, the Amandas who came before her. Soon, the truths and lies hidden in the letters lead her down a path of self-discovery that forges a bond between her past and future.
What do you want readers to take away from this book?
Friendship is complicated. It’s not always honest, but it’s not dishonest either if it’s unselfish.
Tell us about the finished book. Is there anything special we might not know after reading it?
Tilly is the friend all three of the Amandas who correspond with her over fifty-seven years of friendship. The reader will wonder, and probably hope, if Tilly makes it to the beach house one more time to see the newest Amanda. There’s a bit more about Tilly and her life the reader will only be able to guess.
August 24, 1968
A few days of bliss with no one to talk to but the
seagulls. I have you to thank for this. I’m so glad you
popped back after Amanda, Robert, and Mother left. The
strain I put on all of us while you were here would’ve
dragged on for who knows how long if you hadn’t
returned. Once again, Tilly, you read the tea leaves and
My moods have been so ragged of late. Jealousy of
all things. Jealous that you could talk to my daughter,
get along so lovely with her, which I’ve had difficulty
doing these last few months. Jealous of your longer
running friendship with Robert than with me. I’m not
sure if I was jealous of him or you. You’re both mine.
And angry that the two of you are uncomfortable around
each other after so many years and not making sense of
that. When Robert left, I tried to give him the blue
swimsuit you had left behind and asked him to drop in
on you to return it. He said no, I could do it when I got
back. This was so unlike him and did more to unsettle
Get a copy:
Where can readers find you and your books?
Visit me at www.brendawhiteside.com.
Or on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor
I blog on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com
I blog about prairie life and writing at http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/
Is there anything else you want to share or add?
I’d like to thank you again for letting me guest on your lovely blog and answer such tough questions!
I aim to please, Brenda! 😆 Thanks for being such a good sport today.