Today, we’re talking to author and poet, Amanda Huggins, whose first full-length poetry collection, talk to me about when we were perfect, launches this week.
The Blurb: talk to me about when we were perfect is a collection of snapshots, a life unfolding in flashbacks, imbued with a bittersweet yearning for the places to which we can never return and the people we have left behind. These sharply observational poems traverse life’s external and internal landscapes in vivid detail, revisiting childhood memories, exploring the joys and regrets of teenage and adult love, contemplating the nature of grief and the vagaries of the human heart. They cast a questioning eye over past misunderstandings, roads not taken, and undeclared love.
Congratulations on the launch of talk to me! You must be thrilled with the advance reviews?
Thank you! Yes, I’m really pleased that everyone (so far!) loves the collection – it’s always nerve-wracking when the proofs go out. It’s been wonderful to get such positive responses from poets I admire, such as Leo Boix, Adam Feinstein, Ralph Dartford and Bethany Rivers, as well as from other writers and readers who admit that they rarely read poetry. I wanted this collection to be accessible, and hopefully I’ve achieved that.
You write in many different formats – novellas, short stories, travel writing, poetry. Which is your favourite ‘medium’ and where does poetry fit in? Is it something you started writing recently or does it pre-date your fiction writing?
That’s a tough choice, but I think short stories are my favourite thing to write – I’ve loved writing them since junior school. That said, I have always written poetry as well. At Brownies, I gained my writer’s badge with a poem called ‘Night’ at the age of seven, and my first literary success – third place in the school writing competition – was with a love poem written to George Best when I was eleven!
Your collection is dedicated to ‘George’. Would that be George Best by any chance?!
Yep, the very same. There is actually a poem in the collection which is about writing the original love poem!
I listened to your podcast with Ralph Dartford on the Northern Gravy website, and Ralph mentioned your mutual admiration for Bruce Springsteen’s songwriting skills. Do you think you have been influenced and inspired by Bruce’s cinematic writing style?
Yes, that’s probably true to an extent. As well as Bruce Springsteen, I have always loved writers such as John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy and Willy Vlautin. My second novella, Crossing the Lines, is a road trip set in the US and I was undoubtedly inspired by American writers as far as that particular book’s concerned. My poetry tends to be narrative – I’m always thinking about telling a story – so in that respect I’m definitely influenced by Bruce’s writing style. He is a writer who understands that all of life is played out in the everyday details, and he is a master when it comes to making the specific feel universal.
I have a collection of short fiction coming out next year, Each of Us a Petal, and all of the stories are inspired by or set in Japan. I first visited Japan almost twenty years ago now, and the people and landscapes, the aesthetic and culture, have inspired my writing ever since.
The characters which populate the stories in Each of Us a Petal often find themselves adrift and searching for connections. Many are estranged from their usual lives, navigating the unfamiliar while trying to make sense of the human condition. Several characters find themselves restrained by the formalities of traditional culture, anchored by the old rules of family life as they struggle to forge new relationships outside those boundaries, and others are forced to question their perceptions when they find themselves drawn into an unsettling world of shapeshifting deities and the ghosts of the past.
I’m in the final stages of editing the collection now, and I have an idea brewing for a new novella…
Thank you for talking to Victorina Press today, Amanda – I wish you every success with talk to me about when we were perfect.
(Available to pre-order now – launches Friday 31st March.)