A right to be grumpy

Amanda Hampson's new book due out in May.

By Tania Phillips

Baby Boomer women get a bad rap according to author Amanda Hampson.

And Amanda would know because the bestselling author of The Olive Sisters, Sixty Summers, The Yellow Villa, The French Perfumer and the forthcoming Lovebirds not only writes about them – most importantly she is one.

“I’m 66 I was born in 1954 I was a teen of the ’60s and I continue to write for my age group,” the New Zealand born novelist said.

“When I wrote my first novel The Olive Sisters I wrote from the point of view of a 51 year old because there are many details that you can express about your age group that you cannot know unless you are living it. Unless you have lived out a life experience.

“Women who are baby boomers, we get a lot of bad press.

“We’re either little old ladies or Karen’s or whatever but we have gone through the most massive change, changes in women’s aspirations, going from being engaged and being married even changes to learning to write. When I learned to write at school it was with a pen and inkwell and here we are – I’m very keen on technology, I’m always doing new things – downloading apps etc.

“We’ve gone through two waves of feminism, by my age we’ve gone through marriage and death and children, careers and all sorts or things.

“But we are treated as if we have always been old.

“It really annoys me.

“It’s as if we have nothing to offer and if you’re too push you – your bossy.”

She said women her age didn’t grow up dancing the foxtrot they were teens in the ’60s listening to Janice Joplin and Led Zeplin.

“So I’m very keen represent in fiction women of my generation,” Amanda said.

“When I wrote Love Birds one of the driving things behind my character Elizabeth is that when we first meet her she seems a little bit grumpy and disconnected from people around her.

“She’s just lost her best friend, her oldest friend who had been her friend since she was a child, has died. “Then as we go on we go back and we meet her when she’s 10, when she’s 15, in her twenties and we actually see how she became the woman she is now. So at that same time she has all these struggles, her family is a little bit fractured and you can see she’s kind of got on the wrong side of people.

“She has a daughter-in-law who is estranged for reasons that become apparent and hasn’t seen her grandson, who is 15 for a year. He gets in trouble and she decides to take him on a road trip to find her husband Ray who was the love of her life and she hasn’t seen for thirty years. He had gone bush 30 years ago and as the story unfolds we are kind of taken into scenes of their lives to find out it all happens.

“I wanted to show people why we get so grumpy when we’re older, it’s because we’ve been through a lot of crap.”

Amanda Hampson grew up in rural New Zealand. She spent her early twenties travelling, finally settling in Australia in 1979 where she now lives in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Writing professionally for more than 25 years, she is the author of two non-fiction books, numerous articles and novels.

Amanda’s seventh novel, Lovebirds (Viking, $32.99) is on sale 4 May. Visit penguin.com.au for more information.

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