Amanda Sington-Williams comes from a literary family and writes short stories, poetry and novels. She likes to create characters that are outsiders or different from the norm. Her settings go from the ordinary to the exotic and often the stories reflect historical and political events of the time. Her novel, The Eloquence of Desire, has just such a setting.
This is your first novel, tell us a bit about The Eloquence of Desire.
The Eloquence of Desire is set in the 1950s and the book starts when a family is sent to Malaysia after an affair is discovered between George and his boss’s daughter. Malaysia was under British rule at that time and in the throes of a civil war and the family inadvertently becomes involved in the insurgency. A thread of obsessive love runs through the story and a string of deceptions and lies result from the affair. The narrative is told through the voices of George, his wife Dorothy and their thirteen year old daughter, Susan.
Why did you decide to set it in 1950s Malaysia?
My grandparents lived in Malaysia for twenty-two years and my mother and aunt both spent their childhoods there. I grew up with anecdotes of life there and I’ve visited Malaysia twice. This was a huge influence on my decision to set the novel there. I’ve always had a fascination for the 1950s, the fashions and how the nuclear family were presented as perfect, how any flaws were concealed during that period. Books and films set during that period also influenced my decision to set it then. When I was researching for the novel I came across a journal that a relative called Derrick Sington had written when he was a foreign correspondent for The Manchester Guardian in 1955. It had lots of information about the Emergency and that settled the date in which to set the novel – 1955, the year before independence.
Has travel had a big influence on your characters and settings?
I’ve travelled quite extensively and lived overseas too. The locations I’ve visited definitely influence the settings as well as the minor characters in this novel. But the major characters popped out of my head. I don’t know where they came from.
I never planned to follow in my family footsteps, though I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by literature. I think I was influenced more by the books I read than wanting to become another Sington writer!
Is there a book by another author you wish you’d written?
It’s not so much that I wish I’d written some books, more that I long to have the skills of Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, Rose Tremain, James Joyce, to name just a few of the writers I aspire to.
When you aren’t writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I read a lot. I live near an independent cinema and I frequent that. I like to walk in the country (when it’s a bit warmer). I have a good social life and travel whenever I can.
So, what’s up next?
I’ve very nearly completed the final draft of my second novel which Sparkling Books is waiting for. I’ve planned my third and will continue to write short stories.
The Eloquence of Desire will be published by Sparkling Books on 14th June 2010.