Friday, 19 April 2013

Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley - Blog Tour & Giveaway

Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley was published by Tinder Press at the end of last month.  I read and reviewed it back in August last year and enjoyed it very much.   If you'd like to know more about what I thought of the story, you can read my review here

I have a hardback copy of Amity & Sorrow to give away to one follower, there's also a funky #godsexfarming badge up for grabs.   Entry to the competition is open to everyone, just fill out the rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post - Good luck!

Peggy Riley is a writer and playwright. She recently won a Highly Commended prize in the 2011 Bridport Prize and was published in their latest anthology. Her short fiction has been broadcast on BBC Radio and published in "New Short Stories 4", Mslexia Magazine (Third prize - Women's Short Fiction Competition 2010), and as an app on Ether Books. Her plays have been commissioned and produced off-West End, regionally, and on tour. She has been a festival producer, a bookseller, and writer-in-residence at a young offender prison. Originally from Los Angeles, Peggy now lives on the North Kent coast in Britain.

I'm delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for Amity & Sorrow and welcome Peggy to 'Random Things' - she has been kind enough to answer a few questions:

What are you reading at the moment?  I am just finished 'Instructions for a Heatwave' by fellow Tinder Press writer, Maggie O'Farrell.  I love her characters and her big, big heart.

Do you read reviews of your novels?  Do you take them seriously?   I do read them, because it's still a novelty, but also because I am very grateful for the time and thought that bloggers and reviewers give to reading books and writing about them.  Even when I might not like their response to mine, for it is not a book that will suit every reader, I get some insight into what I've written through the experience the reviewer has had while reading.  Amity & Sorrow is too dark for some readers, while for others the rhythm of the writing is too 'slow'.  Everybody brings her own expectations and tastes to a book.  It's not always the right time to read it.  I take all reviews seriously, wherever they come from, but I try very hard not to take them personally.

How long does it take to write a novel?   The short answer is - as long as it takes.  Every writer is different.  We write at different speeds under different circumstances.  I write and rewrite a lot of drafts before I begin to edit or think about it being read.  Every novel is different as well, so each is written differently - even by the same writer.  My second novel required a great deal of historical and science research, so the planning has taken as long as the writing.  It took a long time to write Amity & Sorrow, because I was learning how to write fiction.  I was learning to move away from writing plays, which I was used to.  The second novel has been quicker to write, but as the story is more complicated, the editing is much slower.  You have to just set targets and deadlines and hope to meet them.

Do you have any writing rituals?   I write in a little log cabin at the bottom of my garden, the Blue House. I roll up the curtains, boil the kettle, and fire up the Calor gas heater before I can do anything.  Then I do morning pages on line, 750 words of automatic writing to clear my head.  Then I turn on the playlist that feels like the writing I need to do, and I begin.  Having written all that, I can see how very many rituals I have.

What was your favourite childhood book?  Oh, so many!  "The Dark is Rising", second in the fantastic five book sequence by Susan Cooper, was very important to me.  I was also rather obsessed with "A Wrinkle in Time".

Name one book that made you laugh?   I tend to laugh more at a book's cleverness or at a great twist, even if it isn't funny.  I laughed a lot while reading Michel Faber's "The Crimson Petal and the White".  It's not a particularly funny book, but it is dead clever and pure delight.

Name one book that made you cry?   I can't think of one.  I'm not sure I can ever escape that deeply into a book, into text.  I'm much more likely to have a quiet blub to music, whether in concert or as underscoring in film or theatre.  I'm not sure what that says about me.

Which fictional character would you like to meet?   I'm tempted by Little Red Riding Hood's Wolf and Hansel and Gretel's Witch, but I suppose I should choose a character who won't want to eat me.  I'll choose the Mad Hatter, then, if I get to be Alice.  Wonderland would be rather splendid, if I can only avoid the Queen of Hearts.

Are you inspired by any particular author or book?   Amity & Sorrow owes a great deal to John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath", which casts a long shadow over any writing of the Oklahoma Panhandle or the Dust Bowl.  In rereading it, I was struck again by his dazzling skill with language, both in the Joad Family chapters and in the alternating propaganda chapters.  It was groundbreaking in 1939 and it feels incredibly modern still.  It's made me want to reread everything of his now.

What is your guilty pleasure read?    I love a good thriller.  Who doesn't?  I love a book where the pages seem to turn themselves and the hours drift away.  I still remember the visceral thrill of reading "Silence of the Lambs" and Michael Connelly's "The Poet".

Who are your favourite authors?   Louise Erdrich, Barbara Kingsolver, Margaret Atwood, Sarah Waters, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor.  I should stop there.

What book have you reread?  Other than "The Grapes of Wrath", the last book I remember rereading is "Jane Eyre".  I can't get enough of that book.  It taps into something really primal and secretive,  I can't quite put my finger on it.

What book have you given up on?   I give up on books all the time and I think there's no shame in it.  It's usually because the book isn't the right book at the right time.  I had to start "Wolf Hall" several times before I had the headspace to read it.  On holiday, it was the exact right book at the right time and then I devoured it like a greedy thing.

My thanks to Peggy for giving such insightful and interesting answers to my questions.

Thanks to Tinder Press, I have a hardback copy of Amity & Sorrow to give away, along with a really funky #godsexfarming badge.   The giveaway is open internationally and will end at midnight on Friday 25 April 2013

Enter below, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Great interview, Anne - thank you. Would love to read this, and the #godsexfarming is genius :)

  2. Really interesting interview, Anne. I think Peggy is my soulmate with her love of Jane Eyre and yes, I have tried Wolf Hall three times now but not quite giving up...yet..

  3. Interesting interview, thanks Anne. Amity & Sorrow sounds great x

  4. Good interview. Looks interesting. Thank you for the opportunity to enter this competition :)

  5. I've heard great things of this one. And a lovely interview too. A Wrinkle in Time & The Dark is Rising, and giggling over Crimson Petal - this is my kind of author!

  6. I quite like a dark novel so can't wait to give this a read!

  7. Love the sound of that writing cabin -the book sounds sounds interesting too!

    1. Sorry about the duplicate "sounds" - not sure how that happened!