A University of Ulster student, who could soon be challenging Queen of ‘chick lit’ Marian Keyes for her crown after being signed by the same publishing house, graduates today.
Talented Amanda Brobyn, who studied a Masters in Film and Television Production, Management and Policy, at the Coleraine campus, recently landed a triple book deal with Ireland’s number one publisher of fiction for women, Poolbeg Press Ltd.
Having launched the careers of Keyes, Patricia Scanlan and many other Irish writers, it is hoped that Amanda's success will be on a par with them.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said the mum-of-two, “I’ve loved writing since I was a little girl, so to be given the opportunity to write books which will actually end up on book shelves as oppose to remaining my laptop, is wonderful!
“My books are very commercial but I think that’s what people like to read - I want people to like them and buy them.”
Amanda, 37, recently gave up a successful career in banking to concentrate on writing full-time.
“I had a good job as a regional manager for a local bank, but I got to the stage where something had to give. I was working and writing and looking after my two young children. It was a tough decision but it’s been the right one,” she said.
“Several years ago I wrote a 10 minute film about incest called ‘Betrayed’, although I didn’t really know what I was doing I showed the script to a few friends – one of whom worked in the film industry – and I got a great reaction. So I knew then that I had something.”
Then in 2005 Amanda, who is originally from Liverpool, co-wrote a short film called ‘Juncture’ which premiered at a local film festival.
“Writing the film was a great experience and I realised I needed more experience on the production side as I want to write for television - I needed to get behind the scenes rather than writing with a creative flow that’s why I signed up for the Masters course at Ulster. It’s helped me to produce much more practical work,” she said.
Amanda, who will graduate this Christmas, clearly has a flair for production too as she gained top marks in her class.
Dr Cahal McLaughlin, Senior Lecturer in the School of Media, Film and Journalism, said: "Amanda is a wonderful example of how mature students can successfully take up new opportunities with the right post graduate course. Her creativity has shone through, particularly in the scriptwriting module of in the course, and we are delighted that she has achieved so much so soon."
Amanda’s debut novel is due for publication in February 2011.
“My first book is called Crystal Balls. It is easy reading ‘chick lit’. The protagonist is a female character, who is a strong businesswoman, but her lack of judgment leads her to becoming addicted to psychics and clairvoyant readings, which messes up her life completely,” she said.
“She tries to cheat life by using fortune tellers as a 'human sat nav' in an attempt to achieve clarity and a mapped out route - a short cut to all things good. But as the bogus predictions come thick and fast, she is further removed from where she is meant to be and is forced to go back to basics in order to learn to trust her own decisions - easier said than done.
“The second book is called ‘The Curry Club’ and is about five friends who offer a lifeline to each other. They meet over dinner and while one bowl of curry is served so too is a bowl with five slips of paper, each containing the women's secret problems. One anonymous dilemma is drawn for reading but ‘The Curry Club’ members have no idea whose life is being dissected.”
Amanda admits to playing ‘The Curry Club’ game herself with friends, “it’s brilliant, especially if there’s something you really don't want to admit to yourself or your friends.”
Currently she is in talks with a large production company, which is interested in turning this novel into a television series.
Amanda is also busy working on ideas for her third book but is keeping them up her sleeve for now, however, all will be revealed in the near future on her blog at www.amandabrobyn.com .
A gallery of images from the 2010 Winter Graduation ceremonies can be viewed at: