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April 29, 2010

Meet Mary-Anne Westley, Mother of Amanda Eyre Ward

Posted by Anonymous

Most kids excitedly search for the pool on vacation, Amanda Eyre Ward sought out the library. Here, Amanda’s mother recalls her daughter’s voracious appetite for books and her early works as middle school poet.

mom and amanda2.jpgDid you read to your daughter as a child? What did you read?

Even as a small child, Amanda loved to be read to more than anything else. Her first favorite was, of course, PAT THE BUNNY, followed by all the Mother Goose rhymes, NOW WE ARE SIX, THE WORLD OF POOH and Grimm’s and Anderson’s fairy tales. Later, when she could read herself by age 4, it was the AMELIA BEDELIA books and her favorite, CALL ME AMANDA, a paperback that she could truly relate to!

Did your child have a favorite series/author growing up?

Her favorite series was Nancy Drew --- especially THE CLUE OF THE VELVET MASKand THE SECRET OF THE WOODEN LADY. By the time she was 10 or 11, she had read all 53 Nancy Drew books, as well as all of my mother’s Bobbsey Twins books and my father’s childhood favorites, The Youth Plupy and the Penrod books by Booth Tarkington. (I wonder if anybody ever reads those anymore?)

Did you have any book or reading rituals in your house? (Examples would be: Going to the library or bookstore together, talking about the books you have read, sharing books, storytime)

I remlove<br />
stores.JPGember a vacation we took to Sanibel Island in Florida, when Amanda was 10. Her little sisters’ first question was, “Where’s the pool?” Amanda’s was, “Where’s the library?” The library in Rye, New York, where we lived, was her favorite spot --- we went there once or twice a week, and to every nighttime pajama story hour.

When did you know your daughter was going to be a writer?

At age 7, Amanda began to write poems “to deal with the problems life dealt me,” she explained later in a middle-school essay. “When I was mad, sad or just bored, I’d write a poem to express my feelings. But as a child I wrote of bunnies and rainbows, and now I write of the pressures of life.” She hasn’t stopped writing since.

Do you read advance copies of your daughter’s work?

Sometimes Amanda shows me a work in progress, a novel that will change many times over the next year or two. Sometimes she asks me questions about a time, a place, a style of fashion in, say, New York City in the 1970s, a favorite bar or restaurant. We talk on the phone every day, and I love it when I can help --- but I never see a whole book until it’s published. It’s always a thrill!

Do you have a favorite of your daughter’s books?

My favorite still is her first novel, SLEEP TOWARD HEAVEN, which she wrote when she first moved to Texas and everyone was talking about a woman on Death Row. A natural follow-up to Amanda’s fascination with Nancy Drew!

What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

I have many favorite authors, almost all novelists, from Truman Capote to Scott Fitzgerald, John Updike to Ernest Hemingway, Ian McEwan to William Trevor, and newer favorites like Andrew Sean Greer. Two wonderful recent reads are Alan Bennett’s THE UNCOMMON READER, about Queen Elizabeth II, and LAPHAM RISINGby Roger Rosenblatt. I can hardly wait for CLOSE YOUR EYESby Amanda Eyre Ward, due out next year!

Amanda Eyre Ward is the author of four novels: LOVE STORIES IN THIS TOWN, FORGIVE ME, HOW TO BE LOST and SLEEP TOWARD HEAVEN.