Amanda Deed writes historical romances set in mid-1800’s Australia. Before publishing her first novel, the award-winning The Game, Amanda was heavily involved in music ministry. These days her focus is on her family, her writing, and involvement in her local church.
Janet: Welcome, Amanda, and thanks for taking time to join us. What got you started writing?
Amanda: I always loved writing – especially doing creative essays in English in school. However, I never received outstanding grades for my work, so I assumed I wasn’t very good. I kept writing only as a hobby for many years until I was encouraged to try and publish.
Janet: Balancing writing and family… tell us what a typical day looks like.
Amanda: I usually do most of my writing between 5 & 6am and on the days I’m not working at my accounting job. Afternoons/ evenings and weekends are usually tied up with being a mum (mom), a wife and church commitments. It is a difficult balance and takes lots of discipline (No, Amanda, you cannot sleep in!).
Janet: Now that’s dedication! Your new novel, Ellenvale Gold, released November 1. Please tell us a bit about it.
Amanda: Ellenvale Gold is set in the Victorian gold rush time of 1854. My story is about a young woman who finds herself alone on a large sheep-run. Her pride and the deception of those around her make it difficult for her to know where to turn. Will it be her handsome neighbour, or the mysterious trespasser she accidentally shoots?
Janet: I’m intrigued…. Where did the story idea come from?
Amanda: You know, I really can’t remember exactly where the idea came from. I began writing it in 2000. I know I had been looking for Australian Christian historical fiction and there wasn’t much around, so I figured I should write one myself. :)
Janet: What is it about this particular era in Australia’s past that intrigues you?
Amanda: Being from Victoria, the Eureka Stockade (a riot raised by gold diggers fighting for their rights, in which many men were killed) is known as an important part of our governmental development. I really wanted to use the building tension on the gold fields as a backdrop for a novel. It was also a time of great struggles between the squatters who claimed huge tracts of land as their own, and those leaving the gold fields wanting a small piece of land to live on.
Janet: In your research, what’s the weirdest bit of trivia you’ve picked up?
Amanda: I found out about this character they called “Tulip” Wright. He was first transported to Australia for poaching and served his time in a penal colony in Tasmania. He then worked as a District Constable in Hobart. He didn’t wear a uniform but dressed in an outlandish fashion – thus earning the nick-name “Tulip”. He then progressed to being Chief Constable in Melbourne before becoming a publican along one of the roads to the gold fields. He would charge travellers a large amount to be ferried across one of the rivers there. What a colourful life!
Janet: Does Tulip have a cameo appearance in Ellenvale Gold?
Amanda: No, Tulip doesn’t make an appearance in Ellenvale Gold as I would have had to search for his descendants and ask permission. However, I have created a character using part of what I learnt about him – I really liked the idea of his outlandish dress sense. My character is called “Pinky” Wallace. He is a big landowner and is mentioned in Ellenvale Gold, but will probably feature more in the third instalment of this series.
Janet: What one key thing do you want readers to take away when they’re done?
Amanda: More than anything, I would like people to have a deeper understanding of the grace of God. And, of course, a greater appreciation of Aussie history. :)
Janet: Is there another novel in the works?
Amanda: Yes. I am working on the sequel to Ellenvale Gold, tentatively called Black Forest Redemption. It continues with the backdrop of the Eureka Stockade, but involves the Black Forest – a favoured haunt for bush rangers (Australia’s version of Highwaymen or Outlaws) – need I say more?
Janet: People can read chapter one of your first novel, The Game, on your site. What was reader response like for this book?
Amanda: The most common response has been “I couldn’t put it down.” I couldn’t ask for more than that. But my favourite responses are those where the reader has found healing or a new understanding of grace through my work.
Janet: I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. What are some of the things you like best about living there?
Amanda: How much time do you have? J Golden beaches, lush rain forests, glorious outback, mountains, desert – I keep praying for an itinerant ministry here. Apparently, Melbourne (where I live) has just been voted the world’s most liveable city. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi Oi Oi! (Ok can you tell I REALLY love it here?)
Janet: Your books are published by Australia’s Ark House Press. How can readers in Canada, the US etc get hold of them? And are they available as ebooks?
Janet: Accessible to North Americans… I’m glad! Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?
Amanda: Psalm 139 has always been my favourite. I struggled with self esteem as a young person and it blew my mind to realise how intimately God knew me and loved me.
Janet: I’m still realizing that. Psalm 139 is one of my favourites. What do you like best about the writing life?
Amanda: Creating. Escaping into another world.
Janet: What do you like least?
Amanda: Marketing. I’m still trying to get used to feeling like I’m selling myself. (shudder)
Janet: What do your family think of your writing?
Amanda: I am so blessed to have a supportive family. I have not received a single discouraging remark from any of them. My kids, hubby, parents, siblings – they all brag about me so much I get embarrassed. :)
Janet: Writers are told to read widely and voraciously. I think that’s one of the perks of the deal. What are you reading these days?
Amanda: Not enough! I wish there were more hours in the day – or that I didn’t need sleep. I mostly read fiction in my genre if I can. I’ve read a lot of great Aussie books this year. I also try to read a bit of non-fiction so I can learn something for my spiritual growth.
Janet: What are you listening to?
Amanda: Hillsong (worship), Brooke Fraser (Aussie/NZ), Iona (Irish) & Casting Crowns.
Janet: I’m a Newsboys and Peter Furler fan… love Australian exports! What do you like to do to get away from it all?
Amanda: Umm … read or watch movies … in a silent, empty house. :)
Janet: What’s the most surprising/fun/zany/scary thing you’ve ever done?
Amanda: I’m not really that adventurous in real life – I save it all for fiction where I can’t really get hurt or embarrassed. J Well, I did wear running shoes under my wedding dress, does that count? My hubby does enough zany/fun/scary for all of us.
Janet: One in a family is probably enough… someone has to operate the camera or call the ambulance! Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Amanda. May the Lord continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others—in every area of your life.
It is the time of Australia’s harsh rogue-filled gold rush of the 1850’s when Miss Penelope Worthington suddenly finds herself orphaned, isolated and alone. With a large sheep station to run single-handedly, she has little option but to enlist the aid of a mysterious, but sinister stranger. But who is the more treacherous? Gus—the scruffy, trespassing, ex-convict who co-incidentally shows up looking for work just when she desperately needs a farmhand or Rupert—the handsome, wealthy neighbour who would willingly marry her at the drop of a hat and solve her apparent dilemma?
Repeatedly, her faith is tested as she faces the unforgiving elements, deceit, lies and uncertainty. But where and how will it all end? But…is it the end? Will vengeance return or will Penny’s faith prevail?