Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
Mandy: I am English, 38 years old and married to David. We have one daughter, Mia who is five. I worked in the banking industry for 14 years since leaving school, until I left to concentrate on my writing. I wrote my first novel Rose in 2004 and it was published in 2011. I live in Kent in the UK. I love to travel, read and ride horses but my passion is writing.
Christina: I’m in Kentucky but have deep roots in England where I was born and raised. I’ve been writing for a long time. On this journey I’ve learned a lot, suffered many rejections, and made some wonderful friends.
Would you please tell us about your latest book?
Ten Yen True is a story of hope, love, forgiveness and miracles, exploring the spiritual and psychological underpinnings of the main characters, demonstrating the interconnectedness of human beings. When the four main characters each mysteriously receive one of four ten yen coins, none of them know or understand why or where their journey is about to take them.
What does a typical writing day look like?
Mandy: Typically, after dropping my daughter at school, I’ll get home, make coffee, put on some music and write. I try to set myself at least 4 hours a day, though obviously, being a mother, I have to be flexible. At weekends, I like to write in the evenings, when I can light my scented candles too.
Christina: I used to be very very structured, but now I tend to think quite a bit before I sit down to write. Once I’ve committed to a project, though, I write daily and try not to let distractions get in my way. There are times when inspiration comes in the middle of the night and I get up and write it down because if I don’t, I know the ideas and words will disappear by morning.
Can you describe your writing process?
Mandy: I’ve never been great at ‘plot planning’. This is because I find my characters sometimes take over and it’s almost as if they guide the story for me. I sometimes start out with an idea for a character which then veers off in a completely different direction. It’s just what works for me. I like to think of it as giving my characters freedom!
Christina: Every project is different. Some have been character driven, and sometimes I have a strong idea of where I want to take the novel. It is fun, though, when the novel goes where it wants and the characters run the show. One thing I love to do is research facts to get ideas and create a sense of place. This was important in Ten Yen True, since the setting is in Louisville, KY where I’ve only been occasionally.
How did you come up with your title?
Mandy: I wanted something catchy that encompassed the thread of the story but didn’t give too much away. The title, Ten Yen True struck me as soon as Christina and I began discussing our ideas and I also like how it’s just as catchy when shortened to TYT.
Christina: Completely inspired by Mandy. We’d been spinning the plot and talking and generally having a good time, when she suddenly got a glazed look in her eye and said. “I’ve got it! Ten Yen True.” I loved it. So similar to TNT–explosive!
If your book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Mandy: I’m not a big chocolate fan so I would say if my book were chocolate, it would be a Snickers bar. Not too sugary sweet, but just enough, and packed full of nuts. (Touching, yet gritty)
Christina: I love chocolate and I love this novel. What kind of chocolate? Hmmmm. Cadbury’s Milk Tray, because it is a delicious assortment as are the characters in TYT.
If you could host a magical dinner party, who are the six people (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Mandy: Such a difficult question to answer but for me it would be Sylvia Plath, William Wordsworth, Robbie Williams, David Beckham, Margaret Thatcher and Christina St Clair.
Christina: Let’s see: I’d invite writer friends: Kitty Lagorio Griffin, Marie Manilla, Laura Bentley, Eddy Pendarvis, Mandy Armstrong, and Marlene Satter. Every one of them has encouraged, supported, helped, and been fun.
What are you working on right now?
Mandy: I have several projects underway but am currently working on the sequel to Ten Yen True with Christina, Ten Yen Forever. We think it’s good to strike whilst the iron’s hot. If people enjoy TYT, they’ll hopefully want to read more.
Christina: Blue Caravan, a sequel to Emily’s Shadow, will soon be published by http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com. Marlene Satter was the editor. I’ve begun the third in this series, but only got 2 pages written, and it may go on a back burner while Mandy and I write Ten Yen Forever. I KNOW that will be fun, creative, and full of life!
Christina St Clair–www.christinastclair.com