Author Interview: Amanda Hampson
In three words, describe to us your novel:
Inspiring. Surprising. Satisfying.
In Sixty Summers, we meet friends Maggie, Fran, and Rose all of whom are turning sixty and restless in their everyday lives. In a bid to recapture the freedom and purpose of their younger years, the women decide to retrace the steps of their 1978 backpacking trip through Europe. What was the inspiration for this story arc?
Sixty Summers is a celebration of female friendships and the way these they can sustain us over many decades. Old friends become more important as the years go on, these are the people who truly know us. I wanted to take three good friends on a trip, interweaving the past and the present, to see if it would break them – or make them.
Throughout the trip we see the women challenge themselves and each other, their friendship, and their beliefs. Why was this an important character arc for each woman and do you think this is an important test of character in real life.
At certain points in life, it becomes easier to sit back and simply accept your lot – even if it is far from satisfactory. It’s those friends who remember your youthful aspirations who have the ability to push you and encourage you. Sixty is not the time to sit back and wait to get old. Difficult as it may be to make changes, it really is now or never.
What do you think will most endear the book to your readers?
I think the characters with all their faults and foibles are endearing, as is their unconditional love and support for each other.
What makes Australian romance fiction unique?
The rugged beauty of Australia offers so many diverse settings from cosmopolitan to rural and coastal, each offering a different tone or nuance as the backdrop to a love story.
What led you on the path of storytelling?
My father is from Liverpool in England where they are natural story-tellers, like the Irish. Books and reading were the main entertainment in my childhood and I remember from a very early age wanting to master this skill of bringing a story to life with words on a page.
Is there an author who you particularly admire and what aspect of their work/life/personality has inspired that admiration?
Tim Winton is admirable for both his work ethic and the brillance of his writing. He’s incredibly talented and his work is so diverse. Cloudstreet was a favourite of mine but I think the The Shepherd’s Hut is his most accomplished work so far.
When Maggie, Fran and Rose met in their youth, they had dreams and ambitions. Forty years later, the three friends are turning sixty, each of them restless and disenchanted with their lives.
In an attempt to recapture the sense of freedom and purpose they once possessed, they decide to retrace the steps of their 1978 backpacking trip through Europe and set off on an odyssey that will test their friendship, challenge their beliefs and redefine the third age of their lives.
What could possibly go wrong?