Bananas. I love them. They’re one of my best foods. I love them not just because they are a portable, neatly packaged fruit that’s the principle ingredient in my favourite kind of cake, but because bananas are responsible – if not all, then certainly in part – for me signing a contract with my lovely agent.
Way back then, before bananas were so beloved, I wrote because I loved writing, because it kept my brain ticking over while I looked after my young family, because writing was the perfect excuse to ignore the laundry and spend time gazing out of the window, and oh how I love ignoring the laundry and gazing out of the window. When I started writing I didn’t really think about the end-game, about having a book published, I wrote because I had a pretty good story taking space up in my brain and in order to free up the space, you know, so I would have a better chance of remembering shopping lists and where I parked the car, I needed to get it out. The thing is, once it was out and the words were on the page, 350 pages to be exact, a voice in my head said: You know what? This story isn’t too bad. Maybe you should try and get it published. I didn’t believe the voice in my head, echoing as it was around the newly freed up space, so I gave my book to a few willing friends and bit my fingernails to the quick whilst waiting for their responses. Surprisingly, all of them said: You know what? You should go for it. So I sent the manuscript off to seemingly every agent in the world and then gradually began collecting an impressive, and depressing, array of rejections.
One of these rejections was from an agent called Broo Doherty. What set her rejection apart from the others was the mistake she made of saying there was something about my writing and that if I decided to do any work on the manuscript she’d be happy to take another look. She was probably being polite but I leapt at the glimmer of hope. I went away and wrote in every minute I could find. As soon as the baby fell asleep I’d pull my edit notes out and race to get as many words down as I could before she woke and needed my attention. I wasn’t the best mum during those months; I was distracted, determined, and desperate. But when I emerged blinking into the sunlight from my self-imposed troglodyte existence, I knew I’d written something better. I emailed Broo explaining I hadn’t cooked for my children for three months, that I’d fed them only bananas, but I had managed to rewrite the book. She wrote back by return of email with the legendary words: If you’ve fed those poor children nothing but bananas, the very least I can do is take another look. The rest, as they say in glorious cliché, is history.
And this is why I bloody love a nice banana.
Amanda’s new book, The Judas Scar, is published on 1st May 2014.