My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #author #poet Narberth Book Fair#BookFair. Today with Hugh Roberts

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Throughout this months 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 authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

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:  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 . 

Our author today is the lovely author, prolific blogger and all round good guy … Hugh Roberts.

Hugh Roberts

Let’s’ start, Hugh, by you telling us what you love most about the writing process?

Being able to go into worlds that do not exist and creating characters and worlds that I have the power over and which readers enjoy reading about. As a writer, you can do anything you want to the people in your worlds, so it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to living life as an emperor.

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

I would love to write for a TV show such as Doctor Who, or even a well-known soap-opera. I admire the writers in the world of TV and movies and think it such a shame that many of them do not get the recognition they deserve. We need to ensure that these people walk along the red-carpet to loud cheers, as much as the actors do.

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

The Time Traveller in The Time Machine. I know there have been hundreds (if not thousands) of other time travelling stories since H.G. Wells wrote The Time Machine, but I would have loved to have asked Mr Wells if I could write a sequel to his book. I’m not a huge lover of sequels, but The Time Traveller in The Time Machine is one of my all-time favourite fictional characters.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Yes, ever since I can remember. It has always been one of my two lifetime goals. Unfortunately, for many years, I allowed being dyslexic get in my way. I’m so grateful to have discovered the world of blogging, as it was the gateway for me to finally conquer the monster I called ‘Dyslexia’. 

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

As a writer of short stories, I’ve written in many genres. My favourites tend to be science fiction, horror, and suspense. However, I was recently challenged to write a rom-com, after saying it was a genre I would find difficult to write. It took me a while to write a story, but I’m pleased to say that I wrote one, although it’s yet to be read by anyone.

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

So far, I’ve only published one book. It’s called Glimpses and is a collection of 28 short stories I’ve wrote over three years. If you enjoy shows as such The Twilight Zone, Tales Of The Unexpected, The Outer Limits, or Tales From The Dark Side, then Glimpses is a must read. All the stories are full of twists and turns that take the reader on an unexpected journey and an ending they probably never saw coming.

Glimpses by [Roberts, Hugh W.]

What was the inspiration behind Glimpses?

My love of The Twilight Zone and its creator, Rod Serling. When I first watched The Twilight Zone, I wanted to find out more about its creator. Serling is the master when it comes to writing stories with twists that nobody will have guessed, along with his thoughts about the situations people find themselves in, in each of the stories. He gave me the inspiration to write stories the way he did and to marvel in the delight when people say that they didn’t see that ending coming. It’s one of the biggest compliments a reader can pay me.

How long did it take you to write Glimpses?

I wrote the first story in April 2014. However, at the time, I had no intension of publishing it in a book. Then, as I wrote more and more short stories and published them on my blog, my readers started asking me to put them into a collection and publish them. Glimpses was published in December 2016.

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

No, I always have the reins of a story. In fact, the ending will come to me first, and I then tend to work backwards to the beginning. I’ve never found myself in a situation where a character has hijacked the story…not yet, anyway.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Yes, as many of them follow my blog. One of the best things about blogging is the interaction between my readers and myself. If it wasn’t for my readers leaving comments on my blog, Glimpses would never have been published. I’m very lucky in that my blog seems to attract a lot of comments. I’ve had huge compliments paid to me, as well as great constructive criticism about what I publish. I also enjoy seeing my readers interact with each other on my blog. When I’ve asked people why they leave me comments on my blog, many say it’s because of the friendliness I show everyone who comments. I treat anyone who visits my blog as a guest and always ensure I respond to all the comments.

 Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Not that I’m aware of, although I have been told that I have a talent of writing stories with an unexpected ending that many never guess is coming.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

That most of my writing is done in the morning. I rarely write after lunchtime, although one story I wrote during the middle of the night did end up in Glimpses.

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

Walking with my partner, John and our Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Toby. Watching television, cycling, and meeting up with friends and family for meals and drinks.

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

I got knocked out by an electric potato peeler at the Ideal Home Exhibition in London. It wasn’t funny at the time, but I now laugh about it.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I have a collection of 24 foot dated Harrods Christmas Teddy bears and over 50 Christmas themed mugs.

Hugh’s Links:

Blog
Twitter
Amazon

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My Series of Author and Poet Interviews. #poetry Narberth Book Fair. #BookFairs. Today with Poet Jackie Biggs  

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Over the last few weeks and through July 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.

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 pleased to be talking to the poet Jackie Biggs.

 

Jackie Biggs

 

Tell us, please, Jackie, why do you write?

It’s as much part of my life as eating, something you have to do.

What do you love most about the writing process? 

The excitement of working with An idea and creating something new – what is created is not always what we expect.

Have you thought about joining with another author to write a book?

I love the idea of creating new poetry through collaboration with others. As poets, we don’t usually set out to write a book. The poems come first, then we collect them together for publication. I would like to work with other poets on projects though and see where we go with it.  My work isn’t all about publication, my poetry is written for performance and spoken word events and I already work with others on that. I am one of four women in the Rockhoppers poetry group, which goes out and performs work. We have some collaborative work already, and I’d like to do more, although it’s difficult getting four busy writers together in one place at one time.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

I spent most of my working life in print journalism, so I have always been a writer, and an editor too, but it’s only since ‘retiring’ from that work, just over five years ago, that I have found the time and creative energy to write poetry.  I guess I went into journalism in the first place because it was the only way I could see that I could earn a living from some kind of writing.

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

I have one collection of poetry out – The Spaces in Between, published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press. There are many new poems waiting to be collected into the next book, which I am currently working on. I am not sure yet whether there will be another full collection next, or two or three shorter poetry pamphlets. The favourite, I think, will always be the latest.

spaces in between

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

I have thought about doing creative writing other than poetry, but I am not drawn to writing fiction either in novel, short story or even flash fiction form, although I enjoy reading them all. I have a few short stories from years ago hiding in a drawer, but I think they’ll stay there!

In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Poetry for now.

What is your favourite part of the book?

There is a sort of arc of a personal journey in my poetry collection, although I haven’t made it obvious. I guess my favourite part is the last few poems, if only because they are leading to the next part of the journey for me.

How long did it take you to write The Spaces in Between?

As far as poetry publishing goes, this debut collection was out quite quickly, just three years after I started writing poetry seriously in 2012. I found I had a great deal to say in poetry after I retired from my journalism career. There is plenty more on the way too…

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I love getting feedback. Of course, at poetry readings that often happens one-to-one at the events. I do get reactions to the poetry on my blog too. A number of my poems have been picked up from there by people and read out at public events. For example the poem I wrote after Jo Cox MP was killed was read at a couple of memorials for her in 2016, and at Great Get Together events in 2017.  I also sometimes get requests from people to use poems from my book in various ways, such as by teachers who want to use them with their classes in school.  I love it when people want to use my work in this way. Poetry is not meant to sit on the page.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

No idea! I don’t think I hide much.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?  

I really have no idea. I think it is for readers to say what is of interest in my writing, and what they see as quirky …

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

I read a lot. I think it’s important to read if you want to write, especially to read all kinds of poetry if you want to write poetry. I also love contemporary novels, film, theatre and music. I also love to walk, swim, practice yoga, and enjoy our beautiful coast and countryside here in west Wales.

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

I fell asleep on the train home from work and after going around the Waterloo loop a few times ended up in a siding at Twickenham. I didn’t think it was amusing, but the train guard did, and I am sure other people will!

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I am allergic to mushrooms.

 Links to Jackie:

Blog
Twitter
Facebook

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 Review of Shadows by Thorne Moore #psychological crime

thorne

I received an ARC of Shadows from the author in return for an honest review. I gave the novel 5* out of  5*

Book Description:

A compelling blend of mystery and family drama with a gothic twist, by the Top Ten bestselling author of A Time for Silence

Kate Lawrence can sense the shadow of violent death, past and present. 

In her struggle to cope with her unwelcome gift, she has frozen people out of her life. 

Her marriage is on the rocks, her career is in chaos and she urgently needs to get a grip. 

So she decides to start again, by joining her effervescent cousin Sylvia and partner Michael in their mission to restore and revitalise Llys y Garn, an old mansion in the wilds of North Pembrokeshire.

It is certainly a new start, as she takes on Sylvia’s grandiose schemes, but it brings Kate to a place that is thick with the shadows of past deaths. 

The house and grounds are full of mysteries that only she can sense, but she is determined to face them down – so determined that she fails to notice that ancient energies are not the only shadows threatening the seemingly idyllic world of Llys y Garn. 

The happy equilibrium is disrupted by the arrival of Sylvia’s sadistic and manipulative son, Christian – but just how dangerous is he? 

Then, once more, Kate senses that a violent death has occurred… 

Set in the majestic and magical Welsh countryside, Shadows is a haunting exploration of the dark side of people and landscape.

My Review:

I have long been a fan of Thorne Moore’s work and, for me, Shadows, yet again, proves what a brilliant tale teller she is.

The author’s ability to create an atmosphere is exceptional. In Shadows the descriptions of the rooms and spaces within  Llys y Garn provide an eerie, dark presence and a vaguely distant, though dangerous, affluence in its history. It’s a great  background for the novel. In contrast the narratives portraying the surrounding Welsh countryside underline the myths, the legends of the land, the beauty of the settings, to give a wonderful sense of place.

 The characters are excellent; believable and rounded they instil either empathy, dislike, or exasperation. I loved the protagonist, Kate, and found myself willing her to make the right choices; to stay safe. In contrast, the character of her ex-husband and even sometimes, the lovable cousin, Sylvia, frustrated me. And I despised the “sadistic and manipulative son, Christian” (even though I hadn’t read the book blurb at the time) – I suppose that’s a sign of as well portrayed, multi layered character. And there is one character who was a great disappointment for me… saying no more here

The book description gives a good outline of this steadily-paced plot; what it doesn’t say, obviously, is how the reader is drawn into the story from the onset and then, piece by piece, caught up in the twists and turns of the narrative.

This is  is a book I recommend, without hesitation.

 

Praise for Thorne Moore

‘Thorne Moore is a huge talent. Her writing is intensely unsettling and memorable.’ – Sally Spedding

Thorne Moore

Thorne Moore was born in Luton and graduated from Aberystwyth University and the Open University. She set up a restaurant with her sister but now spends her time writing and making miniature furniture for collectors. She lives in Pembrokeshire, which forms a background for much of her writing, as does Luton. She writes psychological mysteries, or “domestic noir,” including A Time For SilenceMotherlove and The Unravelling.

Links to Thorne:

 Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads
Amazon

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 Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Madalyn Morgan #MondayBlogs

Over the last few months I’ve been 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 agreed to meet here with me.  I thought I’d completed these last week but I’m delighted that Madalyn Morgan has decided to join us here today and she will definitely  be the last in this series before I move on to introducing the authors who will be at the Narberth Book Fair that Thorne Moore and I organise http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/-.  I have read Madalyn’s novels and whole heartily recommend them.

 

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Hi Madalyn, glad to see you here at last

Hi Judith. Thank you for inviting me to talk about The Dudley Sisters Saga.

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

I am fascinated by the achievements of women in the first half of the Twentieth Century, in particular women who worked and served in WW1 and WW2. Also, my mother used to tell me about her life in the Second World War; the work she did, the dances she went to, and the letters she wrote to servicemen overseas. (She had a Polish penfriend named Vanda, which is my middle name.) My mum’s life was interesting, so when I did a writing course, and it came to the Biography module, I wrote about her. The tutor liked the work but said, as mum and I were both unknown, I should turn it into a fiction. At that time, Mum wanted to give back a brass aeroplane; a Wellington Bomber that was made for her by a Polish airman in 1940. He had died, but I found his son, and he was delighted with the plane. It was then that that I decided to set my novels in WW2. I had so many ideas; too many for one book, so I plotted four: Four sisters, four wartime careers, and four loves. I still have Mum’s biography. Her wartime experiences are only part of it. Her life as Landlady of a big pub from 1955 to 1983 is very interesting. It was occasionally dangerous too. One day I shall turn it into a fiction.

What other authors of your genre are you connected/friends with, and do they help you become a better writer in any way?

Funny you should ask, Judith. I do have several author friends who write in the genre – and one of them is you. I loved Pattern of Shadows, which I have in paperback. Changing Patterns is on my Kindle, ready to read during my writing break.

Well, thank you, Madalyn. You’re very kind. Tell us, do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

It’s possible, but I couldn’t. My emotions are on the surface all the time. It’s why I was a method actress. I believed in the characters I played. If I go to the theatre to see a play and I don’t enjoy it, it’s usually because one or more of the actors are acting, not reacting. It’s the same with books. If characters aren’t real, don’t communicate, I don’t enjoy the book. Anyone can put words on a page, but bringing them to life through a character, that’s what is important.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Original, I think. I’ve never consciously tried to deliver. I couldn’t contrive an ending, for instance, that would be a lie. I’m lucky that my readers like what I write.

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

I don’t think I make demands on my readers. I make huge demands on myself. I care deeply for my characters and I have great respect for my readers.

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

Both. The Saga is a collection of five novels, but each book does stand-alone. The first four books are the stories of four very different sisters; their lives, work and loves during World War 2. The sisters are together in the first novel, Foxden Acres, which is the oldest sister, Bess’s story. It’s in Foxden Acres that their futures are decided. Each story stands alone, but is interwoven with the other stories. When the sisters are at Foxden – for Christmas, a birthday or a wedding – they have to be at Foxden in their own stories. The same for events in the war – the bombing of Coventry, Battle of Britain, D-Day, etc. Everyone is affected in Foxden Acres, as they are in their own stories.

To ensure someone wasn’t enjoying Christmas in one book and overseas in another, I kept a day diary. Every time something significant happened in Foxden Acres I made a note of it, leaving four blank pages – one for each of the other books, and one for luck. I couldn’t have kept control of who was doing what, when and where, without the diary.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Two plotted novels and a memoir. One novel to be developed from my mother’s biography, and a contemporary novel about a relationship between a young man and an older woman. He treats her badly, but he isn’t very bright. In the novel he gets his comeuppance!  The memoir is about the time I lived on a reservation in Granite Falls, Minnesota, with Native Americans. In 1961, aged eleven, I was adopted into the Dakota Sioux tribe. One day I shall write about that amazing time in my life, and my wonderful Native American family.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

The most difficult thing for me is getting into the head of a man without being biased, or influenced by my own experiences. I to use what I know about men – the good and the bad – to give substance to my male characters. I do with my male characters what I do with my females – I try to walk in their shoes.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

For the first four novels in The Dudley Sisters’ Saga, I needed to know everything about WW2 – from the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 to Germany’s surrender in May 1945, ending the war in Europe.

Foxden Acres

Research for my first novel took more than a year. Foxden Acres needed intensive research on, teaching, evacuation, the Land Army, farms, billets, and the Commonwealth Aerodromes near Foxden – Bitteswell and Bruntingthorpe. Also the RAF, Wellington Bombers – and the Polish airmen who escaped Poland and came to England to fly with the RAF, because they feature in the first novel. Foxden is near Coventry, so I needed to research the bombing of the city in November 1940.

 

Applause

The second novel, Applause, was easier. I set it in one of the London theatres where I had worked as an actress in the 1980s. I still had to research the Luftwaffe’s blitzing of the East End, ENSA, the shows and songs of the time, fascists, Nazi sympathisers, GIs, and how Jewish Londoners were treated. But because I knew the West End, and had already done extensive research for Foxden Acres, research for Applause only took three months.

 

China Blue

China Blue, the third book, set in England and France needed a huge amount of research. I was used to the process, but with this book it was also necessary to research as the story developed. What I knew about the Special Operations Executive, you could have written on the back of a postage stamp. So I researched the SOE and the training: Parachuting out of aeroplanes, surviving interrogation, living in occupied France, working with the French Resistance, sabotage, and the roads, rivers, and  bridges that were held by the Germans. Although I made up the town of Gisoir, I needed to be familiar with parts of Paris. Thank goodness for Google-walk. China Blue was the most difficult of the four books to research and write. It was also the most exciting.

Bletchley-Final-TEMP.indd

The 8:45 To Bletchley needed less research, again about 3 months. It begins on the night Coventry was bombed, November 1940, which I’d already researched. I needed to know about some of the work they did at Bletchley, but the facility was top secret, so if it didn’t directly affect Ena, I didn’t need to know about it. I researched engineering factories, MI5, poisons that put you to sleep but didn’t kill you, and I read some great biographies about spies.

Setting novels in such a well documented time as WWII means you have to get your facts right. Thank goodness for Google and Amazon. When I wrote Foxden Acres my research was done by reading books, now it’s a 50-50 mix.

What do you think most characterises your writing?

I’d like to think it is strong believable characters and interesting plots. To me the characters are real people. I put myself in their minds and walk in their shoes, as far as possible, because doing that gives the characters life.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I don’t select names. They come with the characters.

What was your hardest scene to write?

A rape scene.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

Alcohol. I love a glass of red wine with my dinner, but if I’m writing after I’ve eaten, I don’t drink. I didn’t drink before going on stage either. Afterwards is another story.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Writing energises me. Proof reading exhausts me.

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

Stop doubting yourself. Have faith you can do it, and you’ll do it.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

My Muse is a grey haired old lady sitting at a typewriter. In my head she’s saying, “Get on with it, dear? Writer’s block, dear? Not me dear!”

Muse with typwriter

Love her!!

Okay, now tell us, what was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Buying my first computer. Before that I tapped out my work on an old typewriter. Spelling is not my strong suit. I got through a lot of Tipex.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I’d expect I’d still be acting. There’s very little work for actresses of my age, so I’d probably be doing temp jobs to pay my mortgage. Perish the thought.

Have you ever had writer’s block?

Yes. When three close friends/relatives died within three months of each other, I was devastated and couldn’t write a shopping list. I honestly wondered if I’d ever write again.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Gone To Earth by Mary Webb.

What do you think is the best way to market your books?

Twitter. I create posters and add captions and book links to advertise my books. As an Indie Author it’s important to Tweet, and to Re-Tweet other authors. This poster for China Blue is one of my favourites.

 

bravery

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

Yes, I read reviews. I thank the person, share to my author page on Facebook and Tweet them. I’ve been lucky. I’ve only two bad reviews, both for my first novel, Foxden Acres. One said, ‘Reading FA was like pulling teeth, I didn’t get beyond the second page.’ I can’t remember the other one.

Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?

I had tea with Heather Craven, the owner of Misterton Hall, which, in my first novel Foxden Acres is Foxden Hall, and in my last novel is the Foxden Hotel. I found several things interesting. When I was a Saturday girl in a hairdressing salon in 1965, I used to wash Mrs Craven’s hair. Another thing, in Foxden Acres I describe the grounds, the lake, the steps leading from the French windows to the tailored lawn where there had once been peacocks – and when I went there to take a photograph of the hall for Foxden Hotel’s book cover, it was almost as I had described it. But the most wonderful thing was, my grandfather, who I never met, was the head groom at Misterton Hall between WW1 and WW2. Heather showed me the stables where he had worked. It was very moving.

When I was writing The 9:45 To Bletchley, I visited Bletchley Park. While I was there, I met a lady who, as a child, had lived in the cottage next door to Dilly Knox’s codebreaking ladies. She took me under her wing. I felt very privileged.

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

Thank you, Judith, I’d love to. I’ve just finished proofreading the digital copy of Foxden Hotel, the 5th novel in The Dudley Sisters Saga. It’s now ready for publication – Kindle and paperback – on June 10.

Foxden Hotel opens on New Year’s Eve, 1948 – ten years after the first book in the saga, Foxden Acres, which began on New Year’s Eve, 1938.

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                                      The war is over. It is time for new beginnings.

Celebrating the opening of Foxden Hotel, New Year’s Eve 1948, an enemy from the war years turns up. He threatens to expose a secret that will ruin Bess’s happiness and the new life she has worked so hard to create. Bess’s husband throws the man out. So is that the last they see of him? Or will he show up again when they least expect?

Bess had hoped fascism was a thing of the past, buried with the victims of WW2. Little does she know the trouble that lies ahead, not only for herself, but also for her family.

Oh, do love the sound of that.  Well, Madalyn, all I can say is thank you for rounding off this series. I’ve been fascinated by your answers today. Good luck with Foxden Hotel, I hope it flies off the shelves.

Please give us all your links.

Glad to. My novels:

Foxden Acres: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BCX59LE/

Applause: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00J7Y5LCW/

China Blue: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00XD85NQW/

The 9:45 To Bletchley: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GEVW3Z8/

Foxden Hotel: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071LDYD2D/

 

Writing Blog: http://madalynmorgan.blogspot.co.uk/

Fiction Blog: http://madalynmorgansfiction.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/madalyn.morgan1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ActScribblerDJ

Today I’m interviewing #author Dianne Noble about her latest book Oppression#FridayReads

Dianne

I was so intrigued by the sound of this book by Diane that I couldn’t resist chatting with her  about it.

 Hello, Dianne and welcome.

Thank you, Judith, good to be here

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

Oppression tells the story of Beth, married to a rather controlling man, who witnesses the attempted abduction of a young girl in a North Yorkshire town. She manages to prevent it but ultimately can’t stop the girl, Layla, being sent to Egypt in a forced marriage. In time, Beth finds the courage to defy her husband and travels to Cairo to look for Layla. Appalled to find her living in the City of the Dead, a sprawling necropolis where homeless people live, she nevertheless is filled with admiration for the way Layla has started a one woman crusade to persuade other oppressed women to rebel and she vows to help her.

It’s a must-read because of the subject – we can all be oppressed by others if we are not strong – and also because Egypt is portrayed so evocatively you can imagine yourself there.

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Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

I believe it does. We must all try to find courage, however little it might be, to address wrongs. Some of us are braver than others but we can all be brave to some degree.

What is your favourite part of the book?

I thinks it’s when Beth is sitting in pitch blackness and abject fear, in the tomb house where Layla lives. These houses incorporate a grave – Beth is sitting over one – and they are without water, sanitation or power. She doesn’t know where Layla is but, despite her terror, she realises that she herself is leading an oppressed life, albeit in a lesser way, and decides to put her own house in order.

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

I like to feel I have complete control but often the characters behave in a way I hadn’t planned. For example, when Beth is caught up in a political demonstration and is rescued by rugby playing Harry, I hadn’t planned on their relationship becoming physical. Beth, however, had other ideas…

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

Beth’s appalling mother who has found religion, become one of the Chosen and feels she is on a fast track to sainthood, yet is totally lacking in compassion.

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

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It deals with the appalling treatment meted out to women in Afghanistan by the Taliban and is the sort of book whose harrowing details keep one awake at night. I in no way consider myself a feminist, but a humanist. There are the most terrible injustices dealt out to women all over the world and this is only one of the many books which deals with it.

Who is your favourite author?

Probably Kate Atkinson for the sheer complexity of her novels, beginning with Behind the Scenes at the Museum which had me hooked for life as a fan.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?

There are quite a few, I’m a bit accident prone. When I worked for Barclays Bank in the 70s I ran a sub-branch and for security reasons a taxi would transport me there each day to and from the main branch. One memorable day I arrived back and as I slammed the car door shut, it closed on the hem of my rather smart suede skirt which fastened top to bottom with the metal poppers you sometimes get on jeans. The taxi drove away and the pop pop pop was audible as my skirt was ripped from my body and I stood in North Street Rugby in my knickers and tights. How I wished I’d worn an underskirt.

What gives you inspiration for your book(s)?

Travel gives me the settings. I have no problem at all imagining where my characters will be but what they will be doing takes longer. The actual plots take work, an idea here, another one there, and eventually they form a cohesive story. I envy those whose plots arrive in their heads like a bolt from the blue. It’s never happened to me!

Where can we find you online?

Website:  www.dianneanoble.com

Twitter: @dianneanoble1

FB: facebook.com/dianneanoble