My Series of Author and Poet Interviews. at the Narberth Book Fair.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with the first of our poets, Helen Williams.

 

Helen Williams

May I start, Helen, by asking you why you write?

To write is to believe there is hope that people can communicate and comprehend one another. To write is to pick up and weave one slim thread in the warp and woof of literature.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

For it all to sound as if it came effortlessly and for it to make sense to at least one other person.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

Probably Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born. I first read it when my eldest son was 10 months old, when being a female head of household, sole earner, provider and mother was relatively new to me.

Who is your favourite author?

Depends on the day of the week, the time of day, and my mood at the time. Could be Ezra Pound or H.D., Willa Cather or Colm Tóibín, Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson, Allen Ginsberg or Adrienne Rich, Louise Erdrich or Toni Morrison, Diane Glancy or Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy or Baudelaire, Robert Browning or Elizabeth Barrett-Browning — I could go on!

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

Two monographs and more articles and contributions to conference proceedings etc. than I can remember. I guess I’d have to say Native American Literature: Towards a Spatialized Reading was my favourite, because it marked a departure from anything else I’d done before. It was exciting to move into this area which is fraught with cultural sensitivities and to explore so many excellent authors who are barely know in this country. But I have a soft spot for two essays on Adrienne Rich that book-ended my academic career. The first one arose directly from my experiences in a feminist consciousness-raising group in the early Eighties: “Adrienne Rich: Consciousness Raising as Poetic Method” in Contemporary Poetry Meets Modern Theory, and the second was a chance to write a retrospective account of my life-long admiration of the US radical feminist poet: “Adrienne Rich: Introducing the Selected.” in Selected Poems: From Modernism to Now. I have very happy memories of the conference at Caen where I delivered the paper the essay was based on, and also gave a reading of my poems about Southport beach.

Now I write predominantly poetry, I’m really enthusiastic about my chapbook, The Princess of Vix; I feel I’ve managed to include lots of my thinking about myth and history and combine it with my deepest feelings about motherhood and mother/daughter relationships.

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

Mostly, I’ve published academic writing. In addition to monographs, essay collections, journals and things like the Cambridge Introduction series, I’ve published a lot of lectures and materials online because I wanted to share as much knowledge and understanding as I could. But I’ve always written poetry and published it in little magazines, etc. Now I’m writing, performing and publishing poetry more than any other genre. But I have also edited my mother’s memoir and I am currently writing a novel. I’ve also written a few plays and what might be a Sci-Fi children’s book. So, I’ve explored most of the traditional literary genres.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

princess of vix

The Celtic Princess of Vix, whose burial chamber was discovered at Vix, a small village close to Châtillon-sur-Seine in Burgundy, was crippled due to injuries sustained in child-birth. This sequence dramatizes poetic identification with the female, Iron Age shaman, whose distorted, pained figure marked her out as different. I delve into the strong emotions associated with motherhood, evoking a series of feminine archetypes associated with Greek, Etruscan and Celtic culture. The Vix Princess officiates at an autumn ritual that synthesizes elements of Greek, Etruscan and Celtic culture. Her daughter, the Kore, is at the heart of the ceremony, which thus becomes a rite of passage. The third major figure in this drama is an Etruscan foot soldier, who has migrated to Vix, without having yet had experience of battle. And the fourth major figure is the Hecate or Hag; thus, completing the triple aspect of the Goddess and of women’s lives, from Virgin to mother to old woman, who has seen and experienced it all before and is now a spectator of the continuing, female drama. I would say it is a must read for anyone who wants to think about what it is to be a daughter, a mother, or a grandmother. And it’s not just for women; anyone who is fascinated by Greek and Celtic myth will find a new perspective on some fundamental myths here.

What was the inspiration behind The Princess of Vix?

Complex, varied and deeply personal.

How long did it take you to write The Princess of Vix?

I wrote the first draft of the sequence over an autumn and winter. Each time I completed one poem, the next one would start to emerge. The drama gradually unfolded for me, as it does for the reader.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote and directed my first play when I was eight years old. Does that count?

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I taught in Higher Education for 33 years (39 if you count the first six as a sessional tutor); so, I guess most of my talents have been on very public display most days of my working life. You’d have to ask all the people I taught what talents I have; I know that many of them had incredible talents and I felt humbled and grateful to be their tutor and mentor.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Modernism and post-modernism had a strong influence on me from an early age, so my writing probably displays traces of US and French modernist styles. But it’s usually easier for the objective reader to see these things than the author herself. And besides bits of Romanticism probably creep in when I’m not looking.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read; tend my garden; spend time with my family, cook, walk, knit, read, watch French films without English subtitles, travel in Europe, read some more.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing.

I got bladder cancer, whose main cause is smoking even though I was a virulent anti-smoker all my life.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I’m left handed.

Helen’s Bio:

Helen May Williams is a poet and author, living in West Wales. She has written extensively on twentieth-century poetry and formerly taught at the University of Warwick, where she was a founder member of the Warwick Writing Programme Advisory Board. She runs the Poetry Society’s Carmarthen-based Stanza group and is an active member of Penfro Poets.  She recently completed a translation of Michel Onfray’s “Before Silence” (“Avant le Silence”), a volume of 21st century haiku.  Her poems have appeared in numerous poetry journals and anthologies. 

Helen’s Links:

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #authors Narberth Book Fair #bookfair Today with me: Judith Barrow

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting interviews with the authors who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed. Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

 So, all the formalities now set out, I’ll be chatting with everyone week by week.  I thought I should start by  introducing Thorne. But then realised I should answer a few of the questions I’ll be putting to the authors, myself.

 

judith, showboat2

 

Here goes: This is a bit weird but hey-ho.

Me: What do you love most about the writing process?

 Me: The ability to become lost in another world

Me: Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

 Me: My characters are a mix of both real and imagined people. It’s the ability to transpose personalities, characteristics and the inevitable ‘oddities’ that we all have in one way or another that rounds out fascinating characters.

Me: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction who would you write about?

Me: My sister. After a lifetime of knowing her, I’ve never been able to fathom out what makes her who she is. If I was going to write about her then I’d need to study her. It’s a forlorn hope; she’d not let me in.

Me: What do you think makes a good story?

 Me: A good story grips from the first sentence to the last.  There should be a great plot, good rounded characters, a believable sense of place for them to move around in and evocative phrasing. Not forgetting dialogue that really works for each character and is consistent. Not a lot to ask for, huh?

 Me: How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

 Me: Eight, three of which will probably never be sent out into the world.

  

My favourite is Pattern of Shadows for a few reasons: it took me years of research to make sure I had all the facts about the first German POW camp in the UK (based in a disused cotton mill) and the truth about life in that time towards the ending of the WW2, it brought back the memories of my childhood when my mother worked as a winder in a cotton mill and I would go there to wait for her after school. It was in this book that my favourite protagonist was born, Mary Howarth; I’ve now lived alongside her for ten years. And last but not least, it was this book that Honno: http://www.honno.co.uk/ accepted. I’d had stories in their anthologies published and I was thrilled when they accepted Pattern of Shadows.

Me: What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

 Me: My books are family sagas. I love writing about the intricacies of relationships within families. I have to admit, (and  I suspect most authors are the same) I am a people watcher. I think that the casual acceptance of one another within families can bring the best and the worst out in all of us; it’s fascinating to write about that potential.

 I have written a children’s book for middle grade; it needs a lot of work before it sees the light of day

 Me: Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

  

 Me: A Hundred Tiny Threads is the prequel to the trilogy.Once I’d written ‘The End’ on Living in the Shadows, the family wouldn’t leave me alone. I realised I wanted/needed to write about their origins.

As with my other novels it’s been described as a gritty family saga. It’s set in Lancashire in the 1900s and Ireland at the time of the Black and Tans

The protagonist, Winifred, is the mother of Mary Howarth. She’s a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother. When her friend Honora – an Irish girl, with the freedom to do as she pleases – drags Winifred along to a suffragette rally, she realises that there is more to life than the shop and her parents’ humdrum lives of work and grumbling.

Bill Howarth, is Mary’s father, a man with a troubled childhood that echoes through his early adult life and the scars linger, affecting his work, his relationships and his health. The only light in his life comes from a chance meeting with Winifred, the girl he determines to make his wife. But does he?

It’s an emotive novel set in Lancashire and Ireland during a time of social and political upheaval. I’d like to think it’s a must read for anyone who loves both family sagas and historical fiction.

Me: Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

Me: I always start writing with a clear plan but sooner or later , usually when I’ve plotted exactly what will happen next it dawns on me that a particular character wouldn’t act in that way. It’s strange; they are my invention but they do seem to take on a life of their own. When that happens I nearly always take a couple of days to work out what I’m going to do… or rather what I think they would like to do

 Me: If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

 Me: It would be Mary Howarth, the protagonist of the trilogy. She takes a bit of a back step in the last book, Living in the Shadows, so I think I’d ask her what she wanted to do (there I go again; letting her take control). Like me she’s not a great fan of shopping so I’m hoping she’d opt for a long walk and talk across the moors of the Pennines. It would be a gloriously sunny day because, when you do get on the tops, it’s always breezy to say the least. I’d like her to tell me how she’s enjoyed her life in the trilogy. At lunchtime we’d find a good pub and stop for a ploughmen’s lunch and a cup of tea(she loves her tea1). In the afternoon we’d wander over to a cinema and watch the film Yanks with Richard Gere

 Yanks

Since Pattern of Shadows was published I’ve been back to my roots to an event called  YANKS ARE BACK IN SADDLEWORTH:    http://bit.ly/2sN1661. This film was made around the group of villages that are known as Saddleworth in 1979. Yanks Back in Saddleworth is great fun. Everyone dresses up in Forties clothes or various uniforms of the British, German, American services of that era and there are so many things going on over the weekend; A Vera Lynne singer, A Churchill lookalike, forties fashion stalls, military memorabilia stalls, a dance, a procession with all kinds of military vehicles, a fly-past of WW2 warplanes.

As Pattern of Shadows  is set during the forties I was invited along when it was first published and have been quite a few times since. I’m there again 6th/7th August this year.

 Oh, I’ve digressed – sorry Mary. After the film we’d have a slap up meal at one of the lovely restaurants around Saddleworth … and then, after such a long day it would be time to sleep for me. Mary would need to hurry to get back into the second of the trilogy,  Changing Patterns.

Me: When did you write your first book and how old were you?

Me:  I was eight. The book was called, The Death of the Teapot. My mother used to say all my childhood stories were gory (wonder what that shows?) The teapot fell off the table, broke its spout…and died.

 Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Nope; I’m an open book as they say. (Whoever they are!!) Though I am a dab hand at making novelty cakes… does that count as a talent… hmmm?

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Well, I don’t know is it’s interesting to anyone (it drives Husband mad!) I sometimes write all through the night.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

What I would really like to do would be to have a camper van and travel around the country. As it is, I read, walk along the lovely coastal paths around Pembrokeshire, sit and watch Husband gardening (and sometimes joining in with the boring jobs like weeding or mowing the lawns). Given chance I love clearing out clutter (opposed by said Husband – the hoarder). And I enjoy making up different creative writing exercises for my classes.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing

I once went to a book fair held in a primary school. The loos were those miniature types for the little people. I got locked in by a faulty lock and had to climb over the door. One of the buttons on my blouse got stuck around the top hinge and I landed feet first on the floor with my blouse around my neck and showing my rather raunchy new bra. Not amusing to me at the time but hilarious to the two author ‘friends’ who just happened to walk in at that moment

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I hated school. I was well into adulthood before I gained all my qualifications and was brave enough to start sending out my work.

 Well, that was fun… I think!

Book Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2klIJzN

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2s8hGiB

Honno: http://www.honno.co.uk/

 My links:

Website: https://judithbarrowblog.com/about-me/

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/barrow_judith

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.3

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/judith-anne-barrow-02812b11/

Pinterest: https://in.pinterest.com/judithbarrow/

 

 

“Judith Barrow has surpassed herself in writing this great family saga… There is such a wealth of fantastic characters to fall in love with and ones to hate!” (Brook Cottage Books)

 

Front of Secrets

Ashford, home of the Howarth family,is a gritty northern mill town, a community of no-nonsense Lancashire folk, who speak their minds and are quick to judge. But how many of them are hiding secrets that wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of others?
Judith Barrow’s Howarth Family trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, Changing Patterns and Living in the Shadows, along with the prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads, published by Honno Press, is peopled with just such characters. Here are some of their secret stories – the girl who had to relinquish her baby, the boy who went to war too young, the wife who couldn’t take any more…

 

 

 

My Review of Motivate Me! by Shelley Wilson #Health #TuesdayBookBlog

 

motivate-me

Book Description:

Your weekly guide for happiness! Designed to give you a weekly boost of motivation, this sixty-four page guidebook will offer you a positive dose of inspiration throughout the year. Listen to your inner voice, pick a page, and then take meaning from the message you receive

 

My Review:

This little gem dropped through my letterbox a couple of days ago. After a  difficult 2016, I decided that I needed to take myself in hand in various ways: to stop worrying about trivialities, exercise in a different way (I walk quite a bit but need something else as well), organise my writing life, and to be more positive..

Far from being didactic or moralising, Motivate Me! only suggests fifty-two ideas that could  make a positive difference to how you feel about yourself, your life, your decisions.

Indeed the author writes at the front of the book that “…the oracle guidebook was designed for entertainment purposes…” but that the reader does need “to be willing to trust in its potential.”

 With that in mind I thought of a relationship issue that has plagued me over the last months; something I have been trying to resolve. I decided to act on one of the suggestions from Shelley Wilson; on how to use the book, and I opened it at a random page. This is what I read:

“The time isn’t right.at the moment. Wait a while; review your thoughts and actions. come back to it later in the year.”

Good enough for me at the moment!

Love the cover, by the way.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2iPuiXM

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2hXpP5I