Amanda Quinn is our writer of the week!
You can read her wonderful debut story ‘On The Road Again’ in our weekly issue on sale from Wednesday 15 June 2022.
Where did you get the inspiration for ‘On The Road Again’?
I accidentally went to a vintage car rally with my husband. We’re not much like the characters in the story, though.
My inspiration came from thinking about how different cars can remind you of people or periods in your life. Like my policeman grandpa’s green Ford Cortina which had the Dymo taped instruction, “Lest we forget, please belt up”, stuck to the glove box to remind his passengers not to break the law.
When did you start writing fiction? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I was a community worker, the person in the office everyone asked about grammar, and got to write the newsletters and policy documents.
I bumped into a family friend who I’d not seen since I was a child who said she’d always thought I’d end up being a writer. It made me think and so, while I was on maternity leave, I took a creative writing course with the Workers’ Educational Association. The tutor was brilliant and encouraged me to submit my writing for publication and, eventually, to train as an adult education tutor.
I now work as a freelance writer and tutor – teaching creative writing for the WEA and other organisations. As well as that, I also work in schools to encourage children and young people to enjoy reading and writing.
I love helping people to be creative, particularly if they lack confidence or are new to writing.
What attracted you to submit a story to “The People’s Friend”?
I like that reading the magazine is part of the routine of people’s lives and that my story might be a positive part of someone’s week.
It’s also a running joke among my creative writing students that I mention “The People’s Friend” at least once every session. This is partly because it’s a good place for new writers to submit stories – you encourage submissions from people who haven’t written for you before and provide lots of helpful advice about the kind of stories you want to receive.
What is your favourite genre to write? What about reading?
I like writing short stories, especially if they’re very short.
I write a lot of micro-fiction – stories of under 400 words – because I enjoy the challenge of telling a complete story in a few sentences. These stories often rely on small details that hint at something bigger and I’m fascinated by things like that in real life too – dedications in second hand books, overheard conversations, Facebook posts.
Anything where you have to speculate about what might have happened.
I mainly read non-fiction and love a good biography or diary, especially if it’s gossipy and indiscreet. All of this suggests I’m quite nosy, doesn’t it?
What’s the best thing you’ve read so far this year?
I enjoyed Bob Mortimer’s autobiography, “And Away“. It was as funny and entertaining as you would expect, but also very moving.
Do you like to stick to short stories, or do you also write other types of fiction (or non-fiction!)?
I like the variety of writing short stories and poetry. I’ve had ideas for novels, but haven’t got very far with them. I think it’s because I find it hard to convince myself that my idea is good enough to carry on.
What’s your top tip for writers aspiring to be published in the “Friend”?
Apart from keep trying (I submitted a lot of stories before I had an acceptance), I think it’s a good idea to start with an interesting place – somewhere readers might like to visit like a vintage car rally, seafront café, or bookshop. Then think about who might be there and what their story might be.
Read interviews from our previous writers of the week here.