Mandy is a short story and travel writer. Words With Jam Shortest Story Winner 2014. New Travel Writer of the Year Award – British Travel Writers Guild 2014.
What is the one thing that no-one would usually know about you?
There is hardly anything that people don’t know about me – I’m a straightforward sort of girl…
What is the book that you wished you had written?
There are so many great books I would love to have written, such as The Siege by Helen Dunmore, The Housekeeper & the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, Stoner by John Williams, The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway, or the wonderful Jane Eyre. But the one that stands out for me is The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I love all his books, but this is my favourite. It is so beautifully written. A story of a lost life, unsentimental and utterly heartbreaking. A masterpiece.
How did you choose a title for your book?
With my short stories, a pivotal phrase or sentence often suggests a title to me once the story is written. It usually comes quite easily – although the odd one has proved to be difficult. However, I chose the title for my novel before I started writing it. I was walking on the beach over the Christmas holidays, discussing the plot with my partner, and it just popped into my head. The Shadow Architect. I’ve had it printed onto a mug as a mock book cover – faux Penguin classic style!
Who would you like to play you in a film of your life?
Meryl Streep would be my first choice. So many of her films are in my top 50, and she’s always been one of my favourite actresses. Susan Sarandon is a pretty good second choice I think. Of course both of these ladies are a little older than my good self, so I’m assuming we’re allowing time travel here, so that Meryl can appear as her younger self when it comes to covering the earlier years of my life!
What did the best review you’ve ever had say about you and your work?
I’ve been incredibly lucky with reviews of my work – I’ve received so many positive and lovely comments. It’s always flattering to be compared to a writer you admire, so one of my favourites has to be from Fiona Cooper, the Global Short Story judge. She once said that a story of mine had ‘echoes of Steinbeck at his gritty best.’ However, as brilliant as that undeserved comparison may be, the nicest thing is to find out that you’ve touched someone with your writing. A few people have told me that my writing has made them cry, but I have also had comments about my wit and wry humour too – so I hope there’s a balance! People have often used the word ‘beautiful’ to describe my writing, which is incredibly flattering. Only this week, a fellow travel writer in my on-line group read a short piece of mine and left the comment, ‘I found it absolutely beautiful.’ I can’t think of a better review than that…
Finding Mandy Huggins