I received an excellent set of questions from a reader on “Amanda’s Room.” Below I have given Juliet the answers to areas of the book that she was unclear about. If you have finished the book, you might find these answers very helpful. If you are planning on reading the book or haven’t finished it yet, and hate knowing where the book is going before you get there, skip this blog and catch the next one.
Now that I have some time, I’m ready to answer your excellent questions re. Amanda’s Room.
Q. What happened to Drew to make him so callous? How could he think about killing his best friend and the girl he admires.
A. If you’ve read my bio on my Amazon.com author’s page, you already know that I spent much of my career in Criminal and Juvenile Justice. From that experience, I’ve learned that many, if not most killers, are made, not born. The psychotic is someone whose emotions are disconnected from his behavior. He can kill without feeling remorse. Drew is not psychotic. His is capable of love and hatred. In fact, it is his capacity for deep feelings that drives many of his actions. First off, he feels abandoned. His own parents gave him away but kept his sister (pg 203). Then, when his adoptive parents are killed in a car accident (Pg 205 – No, he did not kill them, he felt loved by them) no one else will take him in and he becomes a ward of the state. Colicky and emotionally troubled, he is bounced from one foster placement to another until he winds up with the Samuelson’s who love him deeply (pg 231). But when Richard dies suddenly and Roslyn has a breakdown, Andy is once again ripped from a loving home and back into a series of foster placements. In at least one of them he is severely abused (pg 225). So Andy becomes angry and his anger turns to hatred, and his hatred turns to revenge. In 2006, he kills the abusive foster father (pg 290). When Tess describes her abusive foster father, Ralph Campbell, Andy follows her to Indiana after her mother’s death to try to protect her from Ralph. But when he learns of Ralph’s designs on Tess, his anger wells up again and he rids Tess of Ralph once and for all. That would probably have ended Andy’s killing spree had he not read Chris’s report and realized that he was about to be uncovered, and that would probably lead to his being caught for the murders, so in a panic, he kills Chris. Amanda tries to intervene through the waterspout but not soon enough. Amanda inadvertently provides Andy with a means to disappear and make Chris out to be him. But Bert and Katie are persistent and keep digging for the truth, so Andy decides to kill Katie and use Bert to help frame Chris for the murders. Regarding Andy’s killing his father when Ed was showing him love, as Andy said, it was too little, too late. If Andy accepted Ed advice, he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison. He also felt that Ed and Cynthia were ultimately responsible for all of the hurt and pain he had felt in his life, so Ed was simply going to be another one of Chris’s casualties. Drew probably would have gotten away with it too, had Amanda not intervened again to stop him.
Q. Did Amanda have anything to do with the tornado that killed Katie’s parents?
A. No. That tornado was an act of nature. It served, however, to cause Katie to seek to understand the nature of violent weather and made her more sensitive to Amanda’s presence in the weather. When Amanda uses another tornado to try to intervene during Tess’s trial, Katie must overcome the lingering terror from her parent’s deaths in order to save her friend.
Q. Why were they researching the weather?
A. Because of the strange weather anomalies they uncovered, beginning with Katie’s maps (pg 82).
Q. Why did Amanda control the weather, in & around her?
A. Amanda died when she was three months old. She spent the next 18 years alone in the abandoned mansion without the benefit of human contact so even though she grew and matured during all that time, she never learned how to communicate with words. She communicated by manipulating the environment and the weather. Only after the students arrived did Amanda begin to understand them, but even then she did not learn how to respond back in words.
Q. What did the paint have to do with it? Was the tainted paint the reason Cynthia killed Amanda, as opposed to the PPD?
A. The tainting of the paint set up the supernatural event in the story. Snakes Finley’s blood mixed with the Baker-Miller pink created a means for Finley’s evil to live on through the paint. Cynthia suffering from PPD, combined with her guilt over giving her son away, and sleeplessness from her baby daughter’s relentless sickness, made her susceptible to the paint’s power, so she suffocated her daughter. But the innocence of Amanda’s spirit came into direct conflict with the evil projected by the paint and its influence (including on Drew). The rest of the book is a battle between these two forces.
Q. I know why Cynthia couldn’t live in that house anymore, but why have it vacant for so long? Why didn’t they just sell it? I thought that they might have experienced something spooky!
A. Cynthia had no control over the fate of the house. She was powerless to do anything emotionally regarding the house because of her own feelings of guilt and her powerlessness against Gareth. Gareth, still angry over Cynthia’s insistence on giving up one of their children and then killing the other, looked forward toward making Cynthia’s life miserable. That’s why he smiled when she said she couldn’t go back into the house. He kept the house as a means of tormenting his wife, until it no longer fulfilled that purpose. He didn’t need or want the money from the tainted building so he took the tax write-off when he donated it to the college.
Q. Why did the walls bleed? It didn’t really get rid of her. Drew stabbed the wall, & she tornadoed his butt out of there!
A. The battle between Amanda and Finley did not end until the house was demolished, at which point Finley was destroyed and Amanda could let go once and for all. The bleeding was Finley’s blood still very much alive in the paint, yet entwined in his mystical battle with Amanda.
Q. If they really believed it was just weather related, & not super-natural, why keep the research a secret?
A. Katie was convinced that the weather events were due to Amanda (supernatural). Drew knew too, but wouldn’t let on. Chris and Tess certainly believed in the possibility that it was something more than just weather. Only Bert was insistent that there should be a natural explanation and even he came around after the hurricane. Remember too, that any covenants made in the room became binding on the individuals, even if they felt otherwise. At first, because they agreed to keep it secret until they knew more, the power of the room prevented their telling. Then, it was the enormity of the find that caused them to keep it secret until they knew enough to share. Later, Bert was considering expanding the team and during the hurricane he invited Josh from MIT to help investigate.
Q. And what did the Summer & Winter Soltices have to do w/ anything?
A. If you look up the astronomical charts concerning the dates and times in the book (pg 144 et al – Yes, I was anal enough to do that level of research) you will find that Amanda was born at the exact moment of the Autumn Equinox. Presumably, she was conceived at the exact moment of the Winter Solstice nine months earlier, and she was murdered at the exact moment of the Winter Solstice again.) The coincidence of these events linked Amanda’s death and the cycles of her weather activities to the astronomical cycles of the sun.)
A. The inclement weather was due Amanda warning them about what Drew was doing. Was it to throw us off track?
Q. Very much the opposite. That was part of the mystery to be solved. If you carefully study the weather events in the book, you will almost always find that the coincide with one of Drew’s violent acts. Without being able to communicate directly, Amanda used the weather as a warning that Drew was about to kill again (as in the breakdown of the room environment when Katie was trying to seduce Bert), or in an attempt to stop Drew from acting (as when the waterspout “aimed for them” when Drew and Chris were in the boat.)
So there you have it Juliet. I hope these answers clear up any confusion you might have felt. Everything and everyone in the book was there for a purpose and I hope delving into those meanings help to make it a more enjoyable read. Please let me know if I succeeded.
Author, Amanda’s Room