Confession. I’m not who I say I am.
My second contemporary love story, ‘The Art of Loving You’ is newly published under the name, Amelia Henley, but Amelia Henley is not my real name.
My writing career began with a bang, literally. Someone ran into the back of my car which exacerbated a pre-existing medical condition and suddenly I lost much of my mobility. Unable to walk unaided, my world became very small. Very dark. It wasn’t long until clinical depression joined the chronic pain I was experiencing and I wondered whether I’d ever feel real joy again.
During a chat with my spinal consultant he suggested taking up knitting so I had something to occupy my mind. I wasn’t convinced that was the right hobby for me, but knew I needed something.
Writing was that thing.
I began writing a short story which grew and grew until it became my debut novel, The Sister. I was immensely lucky it was picked up by a publisher but writing gave me more than a new career. The worlds I created gave me somewhere to escape to when pain jabbed me awake at 3am. My characters could experience all the things I no longer could. Gradually my depression began to lift. I was able to reduce and then stop taking my medication.
I had a purpose.
Five years after I had first begun writing I had published six psychological thrillers under my real name ‘Louise Jensen’, reached No. 1 multiple times, sold over a million books, had my stories translated into twenty-five languages and optioned for TV. I’d also been nominated for multiple awards. From the outside looking in it seemed pretty perfect.
Except it wasn’t.
Although I love the intricacies of thrillers, the challenge of creating a mystery, I found my mood was once again low. Spending my days thinking up dark plots, imagining the worst things people could do to each other took its toll.
I felt a permanent low-level anxiety. Tearful. Scared I’d slip back into depression. End up back on medication, my head fuzzy, my days too.
I took a break. Thought about what I really wanted to write. What I really enjoyed reading.
I wanted to write a love story, with a difference. I had an idea for a sweeping tale combining a highly emotional plot with my love of brain science (bear with me, I know how this sounds) and instantly the characters Adam and Anna came to me. I wrote, not because I had a deadline or a contract, but because I loved the story, I loved the characters. I was moved to tears multiple times writing this tragic yet hopeful story. After I’d finished it I tentatively showed it to my agent who thankfully championed it, and so did my editor. She immediately offered me a book deal on the condition I wrote under a pen name so this story was kept separate from my thrillers.
I chose ‘Amelia Henley’ after much consideration. ‘Amelia’ combines two letters from each of my three children’s names. ‘Henley’ has a very special connection for my family.
Thankfully, despite ‘The Life We Almost Had’ crossing genres it was very well received which gave me the chance to write a second book, ‘The Art of Loving You.’
I’ll always be aware of, and take care of, my mental health but I’ve found a real balance in my writing now. The thrillers keep my mind ticking over, throwing up problems for me to solve, and contemporary fiction allows me to immerse myself in love.
I couldn’t be happier.
For more information about Amelia, check out these links: