I’m a stationery fiend. I just adore notebooks and fountain pens and ink. I probably have more notebooks in my stationery cupboard than I can hope to use in a decade, but I still get tempted to buy more. And as for fountain pens... there are normally half a dozen or so inked up at any one time in my desk, but there are another dozen or more ready and waiting for when a new ink takes my fancy.
I love walking and the outdoors. I would find living in a city almost unbearable. I need to be able to hear the birds singing and breathe fresh air. My idea of a perfect holiday is probably someone else’s idea of hell – a day of walking across moors or hillsides, with the breeze on my face and a packed lunch in my bag, topped off with a cosy chair by an open fire and a good book in the evening.
I can play the violin. Like many children, I learned at school and played from about 7 years old to 19, when I went to university. I rarely played after that until my forties when I bought a new bow (my old bows had disintegrated from a lack of use!) and started to play again. I couldn’t say I’m as good as I was when I was 19 (I got up to about grade 8 then), but no one’s ears are bleeding when I play!
I love baking. Actually, I love cooking in general – I find it very relaxing. After a busy day, it’s great to unwind and focus on something else and be creative in a different way. But I especially love making cakes. My top two are a lemon drizzle cake and a fruit cake made to my mum’s recipe.
I used to be a university lecturer. I taught human physiology to undergraduate medical students for 18 years before a serious health condition made me reassess my life. Much as I loved teaching, the other aspects of the job were becoming unbearable and I was reaching burnout. I do miss the students at times, but I know I made the right decision to leave.
I’m a keen runner. At school I tended to run sprint events, but as I’ve got older, I’ve shifted to running longer distances. I ran a half marathon a few years ago, then had to take an enforced break from running a couple of years later, until my health recovered, but I’m now hoping to do a marathon in the next few years. Running is when my brain can unscramble. Whether it’s a short fast run, or a longer run, I always come back feeling much better than before I went.
I know a smattering of Chichewa (the native language of Malawi). During my time working in a university, I was involved in a project that took me out to Malawi several times. While I was there, I tried to learn at least a little Chichewa, despite languages not being one of my fortes and Chichewa being incredibly complicated. I can manage general greetings, please, thank you and a few other phrases, but I suspect my pronunciation is atrocious!
I love a good ceilidh. I did my undergraduate degree in St Andrews and although I knew how to do some of the ceilidh dances before then, I learned a lot more while I was there. There’s something joyous about a Scottish ceilidh. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t the first idea how to do the dances – either the band will call them or someone will help you – and it’s all immense fun. Probably my favourite dance is the Strip the Willow – either the usual version where you dance in a set of eight, or the Orcadian version, where you dance the full length of the room!
At school, I hated history, but now I love it. History at school felt very dry and dusty – kings and queens and dates of battles. None of it seemed relevant to me. The history I enjoy now is social history – how the general public lived their lives, not the rich or famous. Recently, I’ve become more interested in Scottish history. I grew up in England and Scottish history was never covered. I can see why! The way the Scots have been treated is appalling.
I have a quarter-size model skeleton on my desk. He’s really for when I do author events where he leans on my books next to an array of antique blue poison bottles, but when he’s not posing like that, he sits cross-legged on the corner of my desk. Other people probably think he’s a bit gruesome, but I love him.
Amanda Fleet’s LIES THAT POISON is published by Joffe Books today. Available on Amazon now www.amazon.co.uk/POISON-gripping-psychological-thriller-twists-ebook/dp/B075T9HJVJ/