From an early age, Amanda Bridgeman was captivated by the magic of stories, her fascination often fuelled by the action and sci-fi movies she watched with her three older brothers.
Looking back, she attributes her passion for writing to her love of films. "I started getting all these story ideas and so I started writing the movies in my head. At the time I didn't necessarily realise I was writing a novel.”
After finishing high school, Amanda moved from Geraldton to Perth where she studied a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Cultural Studies at Murdoch University. She also enrolled in some creative writing units. Initially, her goal was to enter the film industry, but approaching the end of her studies she became disillusioned with the chances of achieving a film career in Perth.
Amanda didn’t initially embrace writing after graduation. "By the time I finished university in the mid-nineties, I was eager to start making money and gain some life experience. My boyfriend at the time was in a band, so I spent most of my twenties following him from gig to gig observing everyone else’s creativity," she said.
Whilst dabbling in film and TV extra work in London, the spark to pursue her dreams in film reignited. “Just being on the sets really invigorated me to get back into film. I got so excited. I even remember walking past Ridley Scott's reserved car park bay and being thrilled by it, as crazy as that sounds!"
Returning to Australia after her father fell ill, Amanda had a sudden realisation. "One night while watching the Oscars, I saw Diablo Cody win Best Original Screenplay for Juno. That was my aha moment. I realised if she could do it, why couldn't I?"
After a 15-year writing break, a creative exercise to map out a film, gradually evolved into her first published novel. “It was supposed to be a standalone, but then as I wrote, the story developed, and before I knew it, I had written five books”.
One of Amanda’s most significant works to date, Pandemic: Patient Zero: A Pandemic Novel, (2021) was a test of her resolve. "It required the most research I've ever undertaken for any book, as I needed to delve deep into epidemiology to make sure the novel was accurate." The narrative eerily mirrored the real-world pandemic that struck in early 2020, delaying the book's release by over a year. "I wasn't sure the novel would ever make the light of day. Once it was out, I noticed it was popular with nurses. I guess because they had lived through it more than anyone, “she said. In 2022 the novel won a Scribe award which was Amanda’s first international recognition.
A collaboration with Marvel presented a different kind of challenge. Given the opportunity to select a character to write about, Amanda was drawn to Dazzler. "I knew I wanted to write about a female character and then I found Dazzler. Reading her biography, I immediately connected with her. I was instantly sold." The novel (singular) much to her relief, was well-received, especially among Dazzler's substantial gay fanbase.
Amanda’s novel, The Subjugate, has been optioned for adaptation into TV by acclaimed production companies Aquarius Films and Anonymous Content. Although there’s little creative input from a writer once the novel has been optioned, Amanda’s thrilled it has been picked up and she’ll ultimately receive a story credit.
In addition to the Scribe award, Amanda is a two-time Tin Duck Award winner, an Aurealis and Ditmar Awards finalist. Her other proudest achievements include holding the number one spot on multiple book charts. “Getting to see my name on a cover with the Marvel logo. That was pretty amazing too.”
She cites her Murdoch University education as instrumental in her career. Her Bachelor of Arts degree has proven invaluable, opening doors to numerous job opportunities, even ones outside her specific field of study.
Reflecting on her journey, Amanda advises anyone exploring a career in writing or film to start as early as possible. Amanda has faced biases and encountered closed doors due to age. The barriers however helped her discover her most important lesson. “If you find all the doors locked, you've got to build your own door,” she said.
Currently, Amanda is working on multiple projects, including her next Aurora book, a potential screenwriting project and developing a TV series on a 1920s opera singer. “Also, I’m eager to venture into the comic world - I'd love to explore narratives in that format.”
Amanda’s journey to becoming a successful author has been a bit like her novels – full of twists and turns. She’s transformed a lifelong passion for films into an impressive collection of books, and some twenty years later is finally getting back into the screen world - coming full circle with her Murdoch degree.