Following my [review of Amanda’s Novel](http://www.suzical.co.uk/blog/uncategorized/lauras-handmade-life-a-review), here is a little insight from the author herself..
Tell us a bit about your background, I understand you illustrated books before you wrote.
After leaving school I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue art or modern languages. So I decided to try out art school and absolutely loved it. I did a degree in illustration at Chelsea School of Art. It was a very broad ranging degree and I explored many textile techniques for illustration.
I carried on with my German and it was very useful when researching the character of Hannelore.
I then worked in a variety of art and design jobs, from surface pattern design for children’s and women’s fashion, to stage set design and illustration. The illustration work led me to developing my own ideas for texts.
Since having children I attended a hand embroidery class and began to incorporate hand stitching into my mixed media collages.
In 2005 I was awarded a bursary to develop a children’s picture book, using a sail maker as my inspiration. This led to the creation of To Market…To Market, a short story about the Norfolk wherrymen.
I have also worked p/t as an art and creative writing lecturer for quite a few years.
In the novel Laura discovers craft having been as artist for many years, how did happen for you?
Like many of my art school contemporaries and textile teaching colleagues we learnt a lot about ‘process’, developing ideas and thinking skills but missed out on the rigour of craft skills, such as hand embroidery. In fact a straw poll of my art and textile department colleagues (all graduates) reveals that no-one knows the A-Z of hand embroidery stitches. We tend to use stitching more as mark making.
I attended a hand embroidery class, originally with the sole intention of using different stitches within illustration work. At that time I was the youngest student in the class, the eldest being 92! It was good that the other students all knew what they were doing as at first I needed a lot of help to realise my ideas. This also led to producing pieces of artwork for exhibition which included my own dyed and printed fabrics embellished with stitching.
There are a lot of very vivid descriptions of textile designs and crafts are these based on items you have designed yourself?
Definitely! Although some pieces are purely imaginary but I feel confident that I could make them up. And some pieces have come been inspired by my students.
Yurts feature a lot in the novel; do you have dedicated work space? Do you use the same space for writing as you do for your art?
Unfortunately I don’t have a yurt as my studio. However, I became very interested in them after attending a wedding in the country’s largest yurt – the yurt maker himself was the groom! I tend to write in my study which is quite plain (as a visual person I’m easily distracted) although I tend to write in the mornings and the study faces east so it’s always filled with light.
My art and textile work takes place in the conservatory. My study is just too small and doesn’t have enough all-day light.
Have you found you work in a different pattern when writing?
Yes. I write in the morning after the school run for two hours max, listening to the radio. I tend to use the rest of the day to get on with planning my teaching, marking work, and working on any art commissions.
With my art work I have even been known to work late into the night – not something I feel I could do with writing, other than exploring ideas.
What is next for you? Will we hear more from Laura?
I have just completed a manuscript for a sequel to LHML and sent off to my agent. It is very much about crafting in the winter and the idea of creative entrepreneurship. It features knitting, felting, pantomime and a spot of baking. Like LHML it is underpinned with some Norfolk textile history, notably fisherman’s jumpers, Flemish weavers.
I’m also working on a 9-12 year old children’s novel, set in Norfolk and featuring a boy who loves to bake.
Your love of art really comes in the book; it’s obviously a real case of writing what you love!
Thank you so much! I actually did a pioneering creative writing MA in Norwich called writing the visual. My old tutor George Szirtes would be proud to hear your comment. I have just completed an installation for the Bergh Apton sculpture trail which involved textiles and writing. Some pics on my website. http://www.amandaaddison.com
To win one of two free copies of Laura’s Handmade Life simply comment over [on this blog post](http://www.suzical.co.uk/blog/uncategorized/lauras-handmade-life-a-review) by midnight Thursday 30th June.