Thanks for having me on your Thought of the Day, Katherine. I’ve been asked where I got my idea for Amanda in the Summer. Sometimes, a story comes as a thought…
Three generations of women…and the secret that strengthens their love.
One summer day, a couple of years ago, I opened an envelope I’d received in the mail. Mail nowadays usually consists of advertisements, bills, credit card offers and coupons. How fun to receive something personal. This envelope contained a wedding invitation printed on 8 ½ by 11 inch stationery. The way it was folded crunched together words from different sentences and the phrase “Amanda in the Summer” jumped out at me. I had the title for a story.
Images came to mind of a young woman, sitting on a beach writing a letter to a dear friend. She was pregnant. Don’t ask me why. Sometimes those details are just there. Letters are a form of communication rarely used today. It seemed perfect to set my young woman in the 1940’s when the art of the handwritten letter still existed. Once she wrote that letter and spoke of her unborn child, the story took off. Amanda would give birth to Amanda who would give birth to yet another Amanda and the letters would tell their stories.
Normally, I hate research but for this story which spans fifty-seven years and three generations, I had a bit of fun with it. The first letter is written in 1947 and the last in 2004. My research covered a wide range of topics: astrology events, the G.I. Bill, when sunscreen was invented, the Beat Generation, Columbia University protests of 1968, 1960’s shopping and eating in New York to name a few. Getting the right tone to the letters and using the correct slang for the era was a challenge I enjoyed.
Blurb: A line of women, all named Amanda, stretches back for generations. Each with her hopes, her joys, her pain—each pouring out her heart in correspondence with a dear family friend who shares their lives, understands their loves, and joins in their sorrows.
But within the correspondence lies a secret. And as the youngest of the Amandas retraces the journey through the years—beginning in post-war America and following through to modern day—the letters reveal, layer by layer, the Amandas who came before her. Soon, the truths and lies hidden in the letters lead her down a path of self-discovery that forges a bond between her past and future.
August 24, 1968
A few days of bliss with no one to talk to but the
seagulls. I have you to thank for this. I’m so glad you
popped back after Amanda, Robert, and Mother left. The
strain I put on all of us while you were here would’ve
dragged on for who knows how long if you hadn’t
returned. Once again, Tilly, you read the tea leaves and
My moods have been so ragged of late. Jealousy of
all things. Jealous that you could talk to my daughter,
get along so lovely with her, which I’ve had difficulty
doing these last few months. Jealous of your longer
running friendship with Robert than with me. I’m not
sure if I was jealous of him or you. You’re both mine.
And angry that the two of you are uncomfortable around
each other after so many years and not making sense of
that. When Robert left, I tried to give him the blue
swimsuit you had left behind and asked him to drop in
on you to return it. He said no, I could do it when I got
back. This was so unlike him and did more to unsettle
Amanda in the Summer is exclusively at Amazon until December.
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Or on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthorShe blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com
She blogs about prairie life and writing at http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/