I like Amanda James. For a start, she is an ex-history teacher (which is always a positive in my book) and she is pretty funny to boot. By the third page of her new book, ‘A Stitch in Time’, I was giggling on the tube – ugh, embarrassing!
Now, there is no denying we all judge a book by its cover, and truth be told I doubt I would’ve have picked ‘A Stitch in Time’ up off the shelf. Whilst the cover is pretty, it wouldn’t be dramatic enough to persuade me to look twice at it amongst a sea of other books in a bookshop. But, you know what, I really enjoyed reading it.
‘A Stitch in Time’ is set, for the most part, in the modern day. However, the plot (which I won’t reveal) sees the main character sent back in time to the Blitz, an American Homestead and back to the peak of the Suffragette Movement. It is a simple but really lovely plot, which would easily translate to the big screen (a hint to any movie producers reading this).
And if you were wondering who I would cast for the main parts? Emily Blunt and Alexander Skarsgard. ‘Cos she is relatable and he is just hot!
In terms of characters, the main protagonist is a woman that many female readers will find easy to relate too – she doesn’t get an easy ride and suffers from the odd embarrassing moment; such as getting her smalls stuck in her skirt – Cringe! But as a reader, you find yourself empathising with her and laughing at her misdemeanours.
There is a love story too, which is great because, well, we’re all soppy at heart.
As I mentioned, the plot is simple and there are one or two predictable moments. But still, the fact that I was eager to leave work and get on the tube to read ‘A Stitch in Time’ means that it is well worth a recommendation.
The story left me so intrigued about the author, Amanda James, that I decided to find out more about her life and the reasons why she gave up teaching to pursue a career as an author.
Historical Honey: Amanda, your new book, ‘A Stitch In Time’ is out now. Can you share a brief synopsis of the storyline with our readers?
Amanda James: Yes. It is based on the old saying – A stitch in time saves nine … but does it?
Sarah Yates is a thirty-something history teacher, divorced, disillusioned and desperate to have more excitement in her life. Making all her dreams come true seems about as likely as climbing Everest in stilettos.
Then one evening the doorbell rings and the handsome and mysterious John Needler brings more excitement than Sarah could ever have imagined. John wants Sarah to go back in time …
Sarah is whisked from the Sheffield Blitz to the suffragette movement in London to the Old American West, trying to make sure people find their happy endings. The only question is, will she ever be able to find hers?
HH: What was your inspiration for this book and what were the biggest challenges in writing it?
AJ: I was thinking of catchy phrases or sayings that would grab a person’s attention while browsing book shelves. Then, once I had plumped for A Stitch in Time, the story just came into my head. I had completed the first draft in 6 weeks -the fastest book I have ever written! I also borrowed from my own teaching experience when writing about Sarah’s day job. The biggest challenge was to move back from the traditionally accepted view that if you go back in time and dabble, you will muck up the future in some way. I put my own spin on it and it seemed to work. Readers have said it does anyway!
HH: Do you have any advice for people looking to publish their work?
AJ: Never give up and never forget your dreams. Roll with the punches and be prepared to get back up off the ground every time. If you don’t, you will never make it. Rejection can be soul destroying, but learn from it and come back stronger. Also take advice from writers who are published and perhaps take a writing course or two if you think you need it.
HH: You used to teach history. What was the most rewarding aspect of teaching history to young people?
AJ: It has been said many times, but I think that it is very important to recognise the mistakes of the past and endeavour to avoid them in the future. I used to tell the students that if we don’t know our history then we can’t really understand the world around us. Knowledge of history is like a road map to the present and future. I also loved it when the students developed a real enthusiasm and understanding of people’s lives in the past.
HH: What parts of history are your favourite to teach/talk about?
AJ: That is hard, but I think it has to be the American West. I taught this for many years and used to travel to the U.S. nearly every summer to see the fantastic sights over there. I particularly loved the history of the Native Americans and the way they looked at the world. I enjoyed teaching the Homesteaders, the Gold Rush and … well all of it really! When we went on holiday we visited, Monument Valley, (one of my most favourite places on the planet) Crazy Horse Mountain, The Little Bighorn Battlefield, the Oregon Trail, Sacramento and Coloma and many, many more fantastic places. I hope to return one day.
HH: Do you have any particular historical heroes/heroines?
AJ: I have many, but because I have been talking about the American West I think I will say Crazy Horse. I would also say the many unsung heroes of the last world war. And lastly, let’s not forget the men and women of the resistance movements also, who were braver than I could ever hope to be.
HH: Lastly, you have access to a time machine…which historical event would you like to change the outcome of, and why?
AJ: That is really HARD! I suppose if I had to choose, it would be preventing the First World War. In preventing that, the Second World War would possibly not have happened as there are direct consequences leading from The Treaty of Versailles. But there are thousands of events I wish had never happened. It really is just impossible to choose.