I was born in Ireland, on the west coast. My father was a musician and my Trinidadian mother was young and in love, but she was also homesick. When they broke up, my mother decided that we (my brother and I) should go back to Trinidad. But it was the early 70s and there was trouble brewing. So instead, she hopped across the Irish Sea to England.
I grew up in Yorkshire, but the three of us came to Trinidad every summer to see my grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts. I always hated leaving. I still hate leaving.
I’m really pleased that my husband, Lee, loves Trinidad, too. That could’ve been tricky.
I’m sure there was a high price for this kind of life – one foot in England and one in Trinidad. And in some ways we’re still paying it now. Our family is scattered, and that’s tough when something happens - good or bad, because you want to share it with them.
What to do?
I was an actress in my twenties, in TV and commercials. I was in a movie called Savage Hearts (1996) starring Oliver Tobias, Richard Harris and Jerry Hall. When I was about 8, I had shyly asked Oliver Tobias for his autograph, and here I was playing the role of his wife. It was a big moment for me. But at the London premiere, I realised my acting was pretty awful.
I decided to give up and concentrate on writing. At the time, I was living in Trinidad, and my aunt suggested I go along to Wayne Brown’s creative writing workshop. I didn’t want to go; I think I was probably depressed. But thank goodness I did; Wayne changed my life.
Writing is hard, there’s no two ways about it, and it’s easy to avoid it. But when I’m writing, working hard on something, it somehow makes everything seem okay. I’ve noticed, whenever I’ve been in any kind of crises, I slope off to my computer and bury myself in a piece of work. It always sorts me out.
PLEASE SAY SOMETHING DEEP (PREFERABLY ABOUT ART):
Can I steal something that made a lot of sense to me? Jean Rhys once said, you have to earn your death. And I think it’s true.
ANSWER THE QUESTION YOU WANTED ASKED:
I’ve just started working on my second novel. It’s also set in Trinidad, but unlike Black Rock it’s contemporary. I feel excited about it, which is great. This is unusual for me.
(BTW WE SHOULD ADD):
Amanda Smyth's Black Rock was named one of O magazine's 25 Best Summer Reads for 2009. The novel--which was published in America under the title Lime Tree Can't Bear Oranges--was this month nominated for an NAACP Image Award for best work of fiction by a debut author. This is what Amanda looks like:
Author photograph by Lee Thomas.