Best- selling author and army spouse, Amanda Prowse knew nothing about the army when she first met her husband Simeon. They were both single parents to two young sons and it was a baptism of fire when he deployed to Iraq the day after their wedding.
We spoke to Amanda to find out how she’s juggled army life and simultaneously launched her incredibly successful writing career…
I didn’t like the idea of being a military wife or want to be left at home with the kids while he was deployed, but I quickly learned that the job and the man are one and the same. I can now honestly say it’s his dedication and loyalty to the army he so loves that’s one of his most admirable qualities. I’m proud to say my eldest son is also a soldier.
What made you decide to become an author?
I never thought in a million years that someone like me could write a book – what did I have to write about? I’d never been anywhere or done anything. I thought people who wrote books must have grown up in a house with a spare bedroom, who had a library in their east wing and had been to Majorca – all things I thought were very fancy! I decided to write about the only thing I know: ordinary life, and I think that’s what my readers relate to most – the fact that I write tales of women like us.
What were the challenges in the beginning?
I’d always been an avid reader but thought my lack of grammar and understanding of how to craft a story would make it impossible for me, but that’s the great thing – there are hundreds of people who know where all those little dots and squiggles go. I have great editors in the UK and US and it was a wonderful moment when I realised that I didn’t have to be a great scholar to write great books!
What support did you get from your military friends?
A lot. As an army wife I’m part of a unique group, no one really knows what it’s like to live on the patch and cope with this lifestyle unless they are going through it too. My success is for all of us and a reminder that we’re so much more than our spouse’s other half.
Do you think living the army lifestyle helped or hindered?
Both. I wrote my first book Poppy Day because Simeon was away and I was scared. It helped to write down everything that I was afraid of in a story – a bit like therapy.
But it’s also hindered me because it hasn’t always been possible for me to drop everything and go to a PR event or a meeting because we both have responsibilities and have to fit things around each other’s workloads.
Have you drawn on your experiences as an army wife?
Every single day. And never more so than in my book Will You Remember Me? which is set where we used to live in Larkhill, Salisbury – and deals with something very close to my own experience. That’s why I have chosen this book as a giveaway for Army&You readers (see below) – I think you’ll recognise my experience and that of my family.
What advice would you give to any budding authors?
Do it! If you think you have a story worth reading, you probably do! Start small and practise your craft. Like anything, the more you write, the better you get at it. Don’t worry about writing a blockbuster or a thousand-page saga – write a paragraph, a sentence, a thought, an idea, a memory and let it grow. If it’s pants and you have to start again, then you are a writer!
That’s all it is, putting the words down until they look and feel right. And don’t be afraid of putting your work out there – put it online, get feedback, people will soon tell you if they like it or want more. Feedback, no matter how hard it is to hear, is always useful. Don’t let your inner voice of self-sabotage put you off.
When I wrote my fist book in 2011, I had 70 rejections so I self-published. Each ‘no’ was a blow to my already fragile confidence, but I’ve now written nearly 30 novels, have topped the bestseller charts and sold almost 12 million books all over the world, which have been translated into tens of languages. And if I can do it – YOU CAN!
I’m on social media @mrsamandaprowse and if you want any direct advice – feel free to follow and message me.