Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected! #ThrowbackThursday

Well, yes it is worth it – we love it, despite the unexpected. Having a holiday apartment attached to our house has brought us many friends; visitors who return year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We love seeing them again. And we are fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there have been downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

Such as the two elderly sisters …

I watched Husband walk past the kitchen window and waved. He didn’t wave back. Because of the goggles and the scarf around his nose and mouth  I couldn’t tell if he smiled or not. I thought – probably not. He wore a helmet over a balaclava on his head, navy overalls, elbow length gloves and thigh waders. He looked ridiculous but I didn’t dare laugh. This was serious. He was on a mission… a clearing the sewers mission…

Husband in a hole!

The story of the sewers began  a fortnight earlier in the shape of the two ladies. They arrived late on the Saturday evening; it was already getting dark.  Despite our assurances that it didn’t matter; that we were home anyway, they  continued to apologize profusely as we showed them to the apartment. There’d been traffic hold-ups, one of them suffered from car sickness so they’d had to stop often, they’d lost their way; gone off at the wrong junction of the M4 and ended up in Swansea.

We calmed them down, Husband offered to carry their luggage in.

‘No,’ they said, ‘we’ll be fine. You leave us to it. We haven’t much.’

They were ideal guests; the type we’d  hoped for when we started this venture.

old lady twoold lady

They were quiet, friendly, pleasant to have around.. Ever ready for a chat they sat with us in the garden a couple of the evenings enjoying a glass of wine, some nibbles. They didn’t go out much; just for one or two hours each day. Most of the time they sat on the guest patio, reading. Aged around eighty, we discovered they were twins; obviously both retired; one an ex school teacher, they other a librarian. They called us Mr and Mrs Barrow and we  called them both Miss Smith (obviously not their real name!!) They wore almost identical clothes and shoes, had the same hairstyle, finished one another’s sentences  in the same refined tones. 

When we asked if everything was all right,did they need anything , we were told all was perfect. On the middle weekend they insisted I hand over the clean  bedding and towels and changed the bed themselves. 

On the last evening we invited them in for a meal. They only stayed a couple of hours; we were told they had an early start in the morning.  Later we heard them hoovering. I knocked on the door and told them not to bother, they had a long day in front of them the following day.. Despite my protestations, they persisted for another hour.

 They must have gone very early, they’d left before we got up at seven the next day.

 Which I thought was great; it meant I could get on with the cleaning before the next visitors arrived.

It was halfway through the following week when we noticed the problem. Our new visitors complained that the loo wasn’t working properly and the bathroom was smelling. By the end of the day the kitchen sink in the apartment was backing up with unpleasant water and the lavatories in the main part of the house weren’t flushing efficiently. In fact they were overflowing!

At this point I’m wondering if I should have put a health warning on this post. Hmm?

 Trying to be as delicate as possible here!!!loo

And so to the beginning of this sorry tale… 

I watched Husband walk past the kitchen window and waved …

He stopped, came back to the window and motioned (sorry!) for me to open it. ‘I don’t suppose you want to help?’ he shouted through the scarf. I closed the window – the smell was bad. Besides I thought we should have sent for the local drains/ sewage clearing people. Being a ‘careful  with money’ man, Husband thought he could “do it himself” 

 The new visitors went out for the day with a donation from us for meals.

Without going into any more graphic detail all I can say is that the blockage was… cat litter (with the evidence!). Our two little old ladies had apparently smuggled brought their cat on holiday with them (into our “no smoking, no pets” apartment) and flushed the contents of the litter tray down the loo. Which was washed by the water along the pipes only so far before setting like cement in the drains.

Six hours later – and after much shovelling and swearing – Husband conceded defeat and we sent for the specialists. 

I connected the garden hose to the outside tap on the garage and hosed him downBefore he was allowed back into the house, he stripped off.

Which reminds me. Have I told you about the Naturists who came to stay…?

Advertisements

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Margaret Kaine#MondayBlogs

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

margaret

Today I’m chatting with Margaret Kaine. Margaret was born and educated in the Potteries and now lives in Eastbourne. Her short stories have been published widely in women’s magazines in the UK, and also in Australia, Norway, South Africa and Ireland. Ring of Clay, her debut novel, won both the RNA’s New Writer’s Award in 2002 and the Society of Authors’ Sagittarius Prize in 2003. She has written several romantic sagas about life in the Potteries between the 50’s and 70’s,and translations include German and French. All are published as eBooks, paperbacks and hardbacks, also Large Print and Audio – cassette and CD. I’m thrilled to have Margaret here.

Welcome, Margaret, lovely to see you here today.

Good to be here, Judith 

Tell us, what made you decide to write in your genre?

Simply because I always loved to read family sagas. Born and educated in Stoke-on-Trent, the area known as the Potteries, I always had a dream of becoming a writer. But once married and with a family, two dogs and a career as a lecturer in further education, there never seemed to be any me time. It wasnt until I had an empty nest, that I came to this wonderful world of writing fiction. I attempted short stories at first, gaining encouragement and constructive critiques from a writers workshop – Id advise anyone to join a good one – and had my share of rejections, but eventually became published widely in womens magazines in the UK, and also in Australia, Norway, South Africa and Ireland. Then obeying the maxim to write about what you know, I wrote and finished my first novel, Ring of Clay, set in the Potteries after WW2. Published by Poolbeg in Ireland, I was thrilled when it won the RNA New Writers Award in 2002. The following year, the same novel won the Society of Authors Sagittarius Prize, sponsored by Terry Pratchett. Hodder & Stoughton bought the UK & Commonwealth rights and I continued to write six more romantic sagas about life in the Potteries between the 50s and 70s. It was a nostalgia trip for me really, but I enjoyed so much describing life as I remembered it in this distinctive industrial area.

Ring Of Clay by [Kaine, Margaret]

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

This is an unusual question, and my answer is that I would doubt it. Even literary writing needs emotion and imagination.

Do you want each book to stand-alone or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

All of my books are stand-alone, even Ring of Clay and Rosemary, although they are connected with the latter being a sequel.

Rosemary by [Kaine, Margaret]

How do you select the names of your characters?

Oh, names! I cant continue until I have my main characters names. I will try several as I begin a novel, and know within a page or two whether one strikes a chord with me. And then it becomes a challenge, as I know I wont be able to write a word until Ive found the right one, otherwise I cant seem to see the person. The internet is a wonderful tool for this, especially for checking whether a name is correct for the era.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

When the writing is going well, nothing has ever given me such a buzz, so I suppose at the time it gives me energy. But I admit that later – usually in the evening – I can feel quite tired. This happens especially if Ive been writing an emotionally draining scene, or if Ive been in what I call full flow, and forgotten how long Ive been sitting at the computer. But writing has enriched my life in so many ways, that I cant imagine not having it in my life.

Ribbon of Moonlight by [Kaine, Margaret]

What would be the advice you would give to your younger writing self?

One of my biggest regrets is not to have begun writing at a much earlier age. With hindsight, I should have made the time to creatively express myself. And yet, somehow it wasnt in my mindset. I admire so much young women who manage to write successful novels while bringing up a family.

Friends and Families by [Kaine, Margaret]

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

My subscription to join the Romantic Novelists Association. Its a wonderful organisation offering encouragement, support and friendship. I have learned much about my craft from attending the annual conferences they hold in different parts of the country. They also provide several glittering occasions to socialise with other authors, many of whom become good friends.

Song for a Butterfly by [Kaine, Margaret]

Have you ever had reader’s block?

Im afraid I just cant get into any books about vampires or zombies.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Now was it Little Women or Black Beauty? I read both as a child and dont think any books since have moved me more.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, I do read them, I cant resist it. Besides one can learn much from perceptive comments. Naturally the good ones are my favourites and can put a spring in my step all day, and eventually one learns to expect that not everyone will like your book and to accept negative reviews. What does annoy me is when people put reviews on Amazon, lowering the average star rating with such trite  remarks as I havent read it yet, or the cover was damaged when it arrived. I mentally scream.

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

The last of my Potteries family sagas, was Song for a Butterfly, but after 7 books in the same genre, I felt I needed a challenge. I decided to write an Edwardian romantic historical suspense set against a more cosmopolitan background, and Dangerous Decisions was published by Choc Lit. I loved doing the research, describing the elegant fashions, the beautiful great houses. The aristocracy certainly knew how to live in style. But supporting that lifestyle would be a veritable army of servants, domestic service then being the main employment and these were often exploited. I have also set my recently completed 9th novel in the same era. With a working title of The Black Silk Purse, the story begins with a young girl being harshly treated in a workhouse, and the way her life becomes intertwined with that of a wealthy spinster. My agent loves it (always a huge sigh of relief), its out with publishers and so Im currently in that period authors know well, of waiting.

 Dangerous Decisions (Choc Lit) by [Kaine, Margaret]

Please supply links to all your social media including websites.

website – http://www.margaretkaine.com

Twitter – @MargaretKaine 

Facebook – Margaret Kaine

Goodreads – Margaret Kaine

Instagram –  Margaret_Kaine

Today With Sarah Jane Butfield

 

c392a-tenby2bheader

 

So… here we are; the last of the interviews with our authors, all twenty-seven of them and all will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl 

There are many genres and many books to browse over. And twenty-seven authors to chat to about their writing. The winners of the three writing competitions will be announced on the day and the prizes given.

 And just a word of thanks here to the three publisher who will be donating the prizes:

 http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/  A collection of  their books for the Children’s competition.   Cambria Publishing Co-operative  is sponsoring the YA Flash Fiction prizes and  http://honno.co.uk/  also a collection of their books for the Adult Short Story Cpompetition 

In the next week or so I’ll be showcasing all three publishers who will be also giving short talks at the Book Fair: http://honno.co.uk/, http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/ and http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/

And I’ll be sharing a post from the brilliant http://showboat.tv/ Who always video and share our Tenby Book Fair.

Please feel free to check out all our authors and their great books. 

Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh  Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles: http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Graham Watkins: http://bit.ly/2aEgwRv , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons:http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G , Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  ,Alex Martin: http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl , Sharon Tregenza:http://bit.ly/29frGPq    Juliet Greenwood:http://bit.ly/29jylrM , Nigel Williams:http://bit.ly/29racfO , Julie McGowan:http://bit.ly/29CHNa9 , John Nicholl:http://bit.ly/29NtdtX  ,Tony Riches:  http://bit.ly/29y3a8k:  ,Wendy White: http://bit.ly/29TMCpY  ,Angela Fish:http://bit.ly/2a5qY2U  David Thorpe:http://bit.ly/2a9uG0V , Eloise William:http://bit.ly/2aoZk1k , Phil Carradice: http://bit.ly/2aYINV5 , Jo Haammond:http://bit.ly/2b7nMqf  and Sharon Jones: http://bit.ly/2bhZ9sa .And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq 

There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

So now let’s meet our author of today.Sarah Jane Butfield. Sarah Jane was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, UK. She is a wife, mother, retired Registered General Nurse and an international best-selling author of Travel, Nursing and Culinary memoirs. She has also written a series of self-help guides for new authors based on her experiences to date and inspires and mentors new authors in her role as CEO at Rukia Publishing. 

 

sarah jane profile

 

Welcome,Sarah Jane, great to have you here today; last but not least!

And I’m pleased to finally arrive, Judith

So tell us, please,how long have you been writing?

It feels like I have been writing my whole life, but the reality is that I started writing in 2013. I think that is because the majority of the content of my books so far have been about my life and my experiences I am constantly reminiscing which completely takes over my thoughts.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

I currently write non fiction author guides, travel and nursing memoirs. Although I also have a romance novel in progress and a couple of ghostwriting projects which are outside of my usual genre of writing.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

To be honest I didn’t choose a genre when I started writing it was entirely by accident, hence the title of my first author guide, The Accidental Author. I resurrected my love of journaling, that I had in my childhood, after the traumatic events of the Brisbane floods in 2011. It was more of a cathartic exercise to begin with, but as I started to tell people about our experiences after relocating to Tasmania to start over and rebuild our lives, I was encouraged to share our story to help and inspire others who may be facing life changing events.

The Accidental Author (The What, Why, Where, When, Who & How Book Promotion Series 1) by [Butfield, Sarah Jane]

The Accidental Author is permanently free as I hope it offers aspiring authors a real glimpse of how they could start writing based on my experiences

So, what have you written?

Two Dogs and a Suitcase: Clueless in Charente

Our Frugal Summer in Charente: An Expat’s Kitchen Garden Journal

The Amatuer AuthorpreneurProduct Details

The Intermediate AuthorpreneurProduct Details

Where can we buy or see them? 

I have added the links at the end ..

What are you working on at the minute?

I have 2 main projects on the go at the moment.

Firstly, I am co-writing the sequel to Shame by Phil Thomas after working with him on the second edition of book one which details his horrific true story of abuse within the UK criminal justice system in the 1970’s which is now part of a judicial review which culminates in 2017. We hope to coordinate the release of the sequel with the finalising of the court proceedings and issue of the final report on how to try to prevent events on this scale happening in the future.

Secondly, a bit overdue, I am in the final stages of preparing Ooh Matron 2! Bedpans to Boardrooms to be released.

Ooh Matron!

Product Details

What’s Ooh Matron 2 about?

Book 2 in my nursing memoir series follows the story of my nursing career and patient experiences over a 28 year career when I worked  in a variety of specialisms and roles in healthcare settings in both UK and Australia. These books form part of The Nomadic Nurse Series which is proving popular not only with medical memoir fans, but also those who enjoy travel and personal memoirs.

What was the hardest part of writing Glass Half Full?

Product Details

In some respects the hardest part was reliving very personal and emotional events and trying to portray them accurately in a way that readers could relate to the decisions we made and how when life changing events happen you often don’t get long period to debate discuss and decide what to do. Sometimes you have to just make a decision and act on it.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I really enjoyed reliving the happy times that occurred during our time in Australia. I still feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to live and work in a country which is so family and community focused and I have no regrets despite how life turned out for us there.

Product Details

Are there misconceptions that people have about your book?  If so, explain.

I think the biggest misconception some people have is that making the decision to emigrate was easy. It was very far away from being easy. Both Nigel and I had been married and divorced. We had child custody issues due to having children from previous marriages and this meant that our decision would result in some of our children remaining with our ex partners in the UK. This was one of the hardest decisions we have ever made, and as I said before trying to portray enough of our story without intrusion into our children’s lives, yet being able to give readers an idea of the rationale to our decisions was very hard. There were elements of my personal situation in the lead up to our decision which at the time of writing Glass Half Full I could not go into in detail because of the ages of the children and the ex partner involved, but suffice to say psychological and physical domestic abuse was involved.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject matter, that isn’t so?

This is tough, but honestly I think the answer is that unless you have personally parented children and step-children through child custody, divorce and child safety life events, it may be difficult for readers to totally comprehend the enormity of emotional and psychological thought processes involved. For this reason readers may build up preconceived ideas and as one reader wrote in a review “Surely he couldn’t have been the monster you portrayed him as.” When in fact I underplayed the extent of his behaviour towards me and my children.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration is my family. Without the support and encouragement from my husband Nigel I may never have started my writing journey on a professional level.

How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

I feel very fortunate to now be able to write and support new and aspiring authors as a full time occupation. This wasn’t a planned career move but it now feels as if it was meant to be and I love everything about what I do and the people I work with.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

I love reading paperbacks and I thoroughly enjoy browsing in second hand book shops and charity shops for new material. I have a favourite book shop in Tenby actually called

However, my Kindle is overflowing with awesome books from fellow independent authors.

What book/s are you reading at present?

I am currently an ARC reader for Peri Hoskins and his upcoming book called East, which is set in Australia and although it is called literary fiction it is based on his memoirs so it is very poignant.

Who designed your book cover/s?

I have had a few cover designers but I have now developed a working relationship with Ida Jansson at AMYGDALA DESIGN. Together we are reworking some of my original covers and her work on Glass Half Full has been amazing.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Yes the cover plays a huge part. It’s funny how when I first started out I didn’t realise quite how important it was until I questioned what makes me pick up a book or click on a book online, and it’s the cover 80% of the time

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

What I love about self-publishing is having total control of not only the content and how I portray it but also the timeframes. Having a large family means that rigid timeframes would create increased pressure which I feel would stifle my writing ability. I like to write everyday even if that means getting up 5am for some quiet time!

Which social network worked best for you?

It’s funny how social networking has become so integral to publishing over the years and particularly so for independent authors. I love to interact with my readers and I find Facebook and Twitter the most responsive, however I get a lot of emails from my mailing list and via my blogs.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Websites:

http://www.sarahjanebutfield.com/

http://www.rukiapublishing.com/

Linkedin:https://www.linkedin.com/in/authorsarahjanebutfield

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/readgoodbooks/

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7391697.Sarah_Jane_Butfield

Connect with Sarah Jane on social media:

Twitter

@SarahJanewrites

@SJButfield

@GlassHalfFullTM

@TwoDogsMemoir

@FrugalSummer

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahJaneButfield

www.facebook.com/Twodogsandasuitcase

www.facebook.com/OurFrugalSummerinCharente

www.facebook.com/Ooh-Matron-1646665865549530/timeline/

Blogs:

Sarah Jane’s Writing Blog http://sarahjanebutfield-glass-half-full.blogspot.co.uk/

Sarah Jane’s Blog at Rukia http://www.rukiapublishing.com/sarah-janes-blog

Amazon Author Page:

US https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Jane-Butfield/e/B00GPLZW2Y/

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sarah-Jane-Butfield/e/B00GPLZW2Y/

 

Tenby Book Fair: 24th September 2016

c392a-tenby2bheader

Events

Events to be held at the 2016 Tenby Book Fair, 24th September

Revised
Some talks, readings, Q&A sessions will be held in an adjoining room at the fair. Numbers will be limited, so it is advisable to reserve a place in advance. There is no charge.
  1. 11:00    Cambria Publishing Co-operative will be giving a talk and taking questions about the services and assistance they offer to independent authors.
  2. 11:30    Poet Kathy Miles will be giving a reading of some of her work.
  3. 12:00    Firefly Press will be talking about publishing children’s books and what they look for in submissions.
  4. 12:30    Prizes for the short story competitions will be presented in the main hall – no booking necessary.
  5. 1:30      Colin Parsons, children’s writer, talks about his popular work
  6. 2:00      Honno Welsh Women’s Press will be talking about their work, publishing contemporary novelists, anthologies and classics, and discussing what they look for in submissions.
  7. 2:30      Matt Johnson, thriller writer and ex-policeman, talks about his work and experiences.
  8. 2:55      Main hall (no booking required): raffle prizes.

 

TenbybeachB

TAF vs

 

 

efdc4-firefly2bvsmallacf5e-cambria2bvsmall

 

showboat vsmall (1)

The Eunuch’s Voice

Shakespeare, Poet, Writer, Author

 

Another of Maggie Himsworth’s fascinating slants on one of Shakespeare’s minor characters. Here’s what she says about this month’s post.

Antony and Cleopatra is one of my favourite plays. Mardian, the head eunuch, doesn’t make many appearances, but this is what I think he might have said if he’d been given a voice.

Drama, Comedy And Tragedy, Theater

I don’t understand it. Here I am, stuck in this tomb, with three dead women, the queen herself and her two ladies in waiting. They’ve cheated Caesar of his prize at least. Slippery as a snake that one, he’s not a man who keeps his promises. His father was a better man, or so I’ve heard.

My great queen, dead.  By her own hand, well, the serpent’s teeth actually, but you know what I mean. She couldn’t wait to get to Antony, jealous that Iras would get there first and get the first kiss.

Those three used to torment me, but I was fond of them.

‘I take no pleasure in anything you’ve got  Mardian’ she used to say, and they’d all laugh. Give them an extra inch and they wouldn’t stick it on their husband’s nose – how rude. But they always talked like that, women together, just as coarse as a group of men.

I always knew though that love between her and Antony would be their downfall. I say love, it might just as easily have been lust, what do I know, or perhaps it was a mixture of both. When she turned her ships and he followed, it was the end for Enobarbus. There was never anyone so loyal to Antony and for him to go over to Caesar’s camp, well, it killed him. I have to say though, Antony never held it against him, was magnanimous, but of course that made it worse.

Antony knew he had lost his honour, and that was more precious to him than anything, even his gypsy queen. He was a broken man. I don’t think she understood that. She was good at playing both sides, she knew how to get the best deal for herself, but for Antony, something was right or wrong. Maybe that’s the difference between men and women, not that I would know as I’m neither. Women have been used to being, what shall I say, adaptable? She had to live by her wits and her wiles, it was all she had.

Octavia I feel sorry for. Used by her brother and used by her husband. She must have known that Antony’s interest lay in Egypt, not with her. But then, she had no choice. It’s only men who have choices, women and eunuchs must do what they can.

I often used to wonder if I could have been an Antony. Great soldier, great general, great  leader of men. Great lover of course, but that part goes way beyond my imagination. I like to think that I could have been some of those things at least, instead of being stuck in this place where I fit neither with men nor with women.

How we laughed though, when the messenger arrived to tell her that Antony was married. We didn’t laugh to her face of course, that would have been suicide, but we all thought she was going to kill him she was so mad with jealousy.

‘Tell me about Octavia’s voice, is she tall, does she have a round face’.

I don’t know whether he told her the truth or not, but he managed to save his own skin.

But that’s all gone now. Enobarbus dead,  dead, my queen, all died by their own hand. What a waste. Maybe it’s easier to be who I am. I’ll never know the extremes of passion but perhaps that’s a good thing. I think I’ve had quite enough excitement in my life without even looking for it. I have no one now to serve, no master or mistress. Perhaps, just for once, I could do what I want to do. Go back to my family if I can find them. Live a quiet life.

They’re over there now, Caesar and his men. He wanted to parade her through the streets of Rome so that everyone would say what a great man he is. I’m pleased he didn’t get the chance. She outwitted him after all. I wonder if I could leave without them noticing?

©  Maggie Himsworth 2016

Today With Kathy Miles

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of months. 

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore:  http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr  and Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci. and Wendy Steele:  http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i  and Graham Watkins: http://bit.ly/1UMLvLN  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me today: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

 

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Kathy Miles whose work has appeared in many anthologies and magazines. She was the 2015 winner of the Bridport Poetry Prize.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? 

I am primarily a poet, but also write short fiction pieces, drama, and non-fiction. The disciplines required for each genre are very different, but also exhilarating, and I enjoy the challenges involved in writing out of my main genre area. I think I was initially drawn to poetry as a means of expression because of an overwhelming love of words…I’m  just as happy browse-reading a dictionary or thesaurus as a novel. I particularly like exploring their etymology, how the meanings of words have changed over the centuries. So many wonderful words have fallen into disuse, or their meanings changed completely from the original: in these cases, it’s not only the words which are lost, but their associated cultural mores. I always work with a range of  dictionaries and thesauri on my desk, many of them published prior to 1950, and find it exciting when I can trace a word back to a meaning quite different from its contemporary usage. I love playing with words, as well as with the various structures and rhythms of a poem, and I think this is why I write mainly in this genre: for me, what I can do with the words is very satisfying.

COVER

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

My parents read to me when I was little: there was always a bedtime story, and the house was full of books. My father was a part-time writer, and I would go into his study and read whatever I could lay my hands on. He worked as a clerk in the local government offices, and was paid monthly. I remember that whenever he got his salary (in one of those little brown folded envelopes) he would go to the bookshop on the way home and buy me a new book. My mother had no literary aspirations, but she read magazines avidly, so along with the books, I grew up on Womens’ Own, Womens’ Weekly and The Readers’ Digest, which in those days always published a good range of short fiction in their pages.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I could hold a pen. I have drawerfuls of poems and stories I wrote as a child, the earliest being from when I was about five. There was no specific reason for it: it was just something I always did, and which I never questioned. Other people took part in sport, went swimming, drew pictures or made things, and I wrote.

What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?

I’m very careful to research each poem thoroughly. When I’m writing I use resources which would normally include subject-specific databases and web sources as well as hard copy books, encyclopaedias, dictionaries and thesauri. I have a massive Dictionary of Mythology which is pretty much falling apart at the seams!

 

SHADOWHOUSE

 

What do you think most characterises your writing?

I write a great deal about the landscape: living in a rural area is a huge privilege. I have badgers visiting my garden at night, dragonflies skimming over my pond, and the sight of mountains and the sea in the distance, so it would be hard not to write about these things. But I dislike the idea that writers should be put into specific genres, and so I wouldn’t describe myself as a ‘landscape poet’ because that would be to ignore all the other things I write about. What I would hope characterizes my writing is the truth of what I am trying to convey: but that, of course, is for others to decide!

Links to Kathy’s books.

Amazon.co.uk:

Gardening With Deer: http://amzn.to/1XTUa3i

The Shadow House: http://amzn.to/236LaHk

Amazon.com:

The Shadow House:http://amzn.to/1tnREoA

 

Today with Matt Johnson

I’m interviewing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival:  http://bit.ly/24eOVtl. The initial interview was with Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF . The second was with Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh. Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing them all and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance.

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with  Matt Johnson,who tells a fascinating story.

13254818_1154379051248283_469919312578086319_o

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? How long have you been writing?

Write what you know. I served for a little under twenty-five years in the Army and then in the Metropolitan Police working in a number of specialisms and departments. In terms of exposure, my career spanned a time that saw my involvement in a number of high profile incidents. For example, I attended the Regents Park bombing in 1982 and, in 1984, I escorted my mortally wounded colleague, WPC Yvonne Fletcher to hospital.

Unfortunately, my career came to an abrupt end when I was diagnosed with PTSD. I was referred for counselling and initially found expressing myself very difficult – I would be overcome by emotion. To help my progress, my counsellor suggested I try recording my experiences, emotions and feelings in writing, and then bring my notes to be discussed at sessions. One day, many months later, she commented how much she enjoyed my writing and ‘had I ever considered writing a book?’

I hadn’t, and at the time had no desire to do so. But, several years later, with my police career over and my personal circumstances having changed, I pulled those notes from a drawer and started to weave them into a novel. And so, to answer the question, I am very knew to creative writing. Wicked Game is my first book.

What is it about being an author that you particularly enjoy?

Many things. I’ve always been very self-motivated and have been equally happy working as a member of a team or as an individual. But, I now find that I do like working on my own, setting my own deadlines and managing my own time. I enjoy research, learning about new things and brushing up on gaps in my knowledge. I enjoy the moment the words start to flow, that realisation that you are ‘in the groove’ and the story is unfolding, sometimes faster than I can type. I often lose track of time, forget to eat and have been known to write into the early hours.

All that said, what I most enjoy is the eventual interaction with readers that the book produces, particularly when it comes to meeting and having the chance to chat.

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 

I was motivated to write fiction after reading a book on creative writing. I recall reading the expression ‘show don’t tell’. The explanation discussed the use of words to enhance reader experience but for me this struck a chord. I realised that to really explain to readers how service men and women are affected by PTSD I would be wasting my time writing just another book on the subject that ‘told’ people. I hoped that, through the medium of fiction, I might be able to show people and to help understanding.

Are there misconceptions that people have about your book?  If so, explain.

Some, yes, but from the reviews it appears that many have overcome them. The main misconception is that Wicked Game is a ‘boys only’ book, as it is a military/police thriller. But readers have discovered that it is much more than that, it is a story about family, secrets, friendship and coming together to face a threat. I’ve been so please to read the comments of readers who have said that the book has delivered so much more than they first expected.

wicked game

What process did you go through to get your book published?

When I finished my first draft I did the usual thing and sent a synopsis to a few agents. Having failed to secure any interest I self published through KDP Amazon. The book did surprisingly well and I was enjoying the pocket money. Then, an author working in Afghanistan with the Chinook force stumbled upon a soldier reading my book on his kindle. He asked what the book was and decided to download it himself. He liked it and decided to recommend me to his literary agent. With a few months I was in London signing with Watson-Little Ltd and it was they who secured the publishing deal.

Where can we find your book?

In e-book form, Wicked Game is available on Amazon, Kobo, Ibookstore, Nook etc. In paperback it’s available in Waterstones, WH Smith, Hive, Amazon and through many independent book shops.

For signed copies, I’m supporting Book-ish of Crickhowell who were the winner of the Wales and west independent book shop of the year 2016. Order from Bookish and they will call me in to sign a personalised copy for you.

A sequel to Wicked Game, called ‘Deadly Game’ is scheduled for publication Spring 2017.

You will also find Wicked Game on sale at a number of literary events this year.

I’m at Crickhowell and Berwick Literary Festivals, Tenby Book Fair and Bristol CrimeFest. I will also be touring with the Orenda Author Roadshow.

Wicked Game, Published by Orenda Books, had been long-listed for the CWA John Creasy Debut Dagger Award 2016.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk:  http://amzn.to/1TJuMGP

You can find Matt here:

Facebook: http://bit.ly/1XgfZd6

Twitter: http://bit.ly/22xJcPN