I have been out all day, planning a marketing strategy with another author. Plus, you just might be aware that I have been having big problems since I downloaded Windows 10 – folks don’t go there just yet. It’s fighting with lots of my other applications. So this is an interview I gave with Aurorawatcherak. The alternative was to share the post, but I couldn’t find out how to do that, so here is a cut and paste version.
Today’s interview is with Lucinda E. Clarke, a friend from the Booktrap, and quite the adventuress. Tell us something about yourself, Lucinda.
Starting with basics, I was conceived and born in Dublin, Ireland (I don’t remember the conception part too well), then taken to England. By the time I got married I had spent years and years in the classroom, then trained to spend the rest of my life in the classroom, so I was not ready for the big, bad world.
That is so true for all of us.School is definitely not real life.
After first wedding, I tried crofting in Scotland (disaster we couldn’t get a spade through the permafrost) – bred small animals for pet shops (disaster, they all died) – bred dogs (disaster, one took off and killed chickens).
So we took off for Kenya (disaster, husband walked off the job and we were almost stranded). On to Libya (disaster, this time we were thrown out of the country altogether), then Botswana (disaster, husband got fired, and I ran the worst riding school in the world). Then South Africa (finally success!!!) After slogging for a while in the classroom (this time I was fired) I began to write for radio and TV. Eventually I had my own video production company.
What was the first story you wrote and how old were you?
You want me to remember that far back? I think it was when I was about 6 and it was written on little scraps of paper and I was so proud of it until my mother sneered at it. I do remember being an avid reader of Enid Blyton and thinking this doesn’t look too difficult, I could do this! (I was a precocious brat).
What are you passionate about?
My writing. Injustices against women. Cutting down trees. Population control.
What can you not live without?
In no particular order – my laptop, my iPad and my iPhone, a good internet connection and I better add my husband in there as well. Peace and quiet to write, beauty around me, that is vital too.
You lived in South Africa, have met Nelson Mandela, (scary) had a huge career in broadcast journalism (thank you). Tell us about that.
I am passionate about Africa and her people, but I just wish they would go the mentorship route and stop worrying about skin colour. In my books Truth, Lies and Propaganda and More Truth, Lies and Propaganda I tried to point out that mindsets and tribalism and nepotism are a factor, not race. I want to cry when I see how things are developing now in South Africa, everyone is adversely affected, all races and all people, except for the elite few who are exploiting those who are weaker.
Tell us about Walking Over Eggshells.
Originally I wrote this as a long, long letter to my children, and it stayed in manuscript form for several years. Then after the bombardment from the media about sexual abuse and how terrible it was, I began to get angry. Sure, that is horrific, but emotional abuse is more insidious. It does not stop at maturity, it does not stop if you move away, it goes on relentlessly, even after death. It’s difficult to pinpoint, almost impossible to explain and a nightmare to prove. It robs you of your self worth, your self confidence and your relationships with everyone you meet.
Then one day I decided to publish, in the hope that it might help even a few people who had had the same experiences. The emails I’ve received have been amazing and I have no regrets about sharing my story with the world (well a few people anyway!)
But it’s not a doom and gloom book, there is lots of humour there, and I think, an easy read.
Tell us about Amie.
Amie is my first real attempt at a full length novel. Most of my documentaries I turned into short, funny stories as they were aimed at educating and I feel this is best done through humour.
It was much harder than the autobiographies as I had to ‘make stuff up’ and I had to remember who was where and how they would behave in character. I’ve written stage plays, so I had a grounding in that format, but a 108,000-word book was much, much trickier. I just sit down at the lap top and write. I only have a basic storyline in my head and the characters take over and then I have to go back and mop up afterwards in case they made mistakes or contradicted themselves. It’s nothing to do with me, I blame them every time, I’m just on the scene to write down what they tell me.
Oh, I so represent that!
I have just finished the second Amie book – Amie and the African Child – which I hope to publish in August if not sooner.
I have a love / hate relationship with Amie, but she has become more feisty and so I like her a little better now.
I love feisty female characters. Tell us about Truth, Lies and Propaganda 1 and 2. Having been a journalist, I find that most of my former colleagues don’t see themselves as propagandists, but I know they are. So talk about that some.
These two books follow my writing career from the beginning to when I left South Africa. I had dreamed of writing for a living ever since I could remember, but was told to ‘get a proper job’ (hence the teaching).
It’s almost impossible not to play the propaganda game. Every newspaper has an agenda or supports one political party or another, or the views of the proprietor. If you are paid to write, then you write what the client wants, and I had my share of the clients from hell! You soon learn to take criticism (the customer / client is always right even when they are wrong), hone your tact and diplomacy and I guess lifting the lid on the few blatant examples in the books, I was getting my revenge!
Sure, you can starve in a garret and hold fast to your principles, but if you want the luxuries in life, such as food, a roof and clothes to wear, then you toe the line. I worked with some amazing people and many of the stories I reported and filmed were true to life, but of course it is the ones which tell lies, which tell the funny stories.
I feel very privileged to have been welcomed into rural huts, township shacks, Chief’s councils, had my fortune told by a witch doctor, visited AIDS patients, there are just too many incidents to mention here. I believe I saw Africa as few others have. I’d ask my crew to take care of me as I was probably the only white person for miles in any direction. I have to read my books to remember it all.
Every incident in both books really happened without exaggeration.
What are your literary plans for the future?
This is going to sound so pompous, but you asked? OK, so I’m not going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, they don’t go for the kind of books I write. One of my heroines is Dorothy Parker and I would be in my seventh heaven (or the other place) if any of my phrases or sayings were to be printed in a book of quotations, that would be great!
Of course I’d love to be on all the bestseller lists, and write the screen play from one of my books. On a more practical level, I’m hoping they will put up a shelf for me in the local old folks home, so I can gaze at my books when I can no longer get out of bed. I’m almost up to 5 now and I plan to write a whole lot more.
Anything else you would like to say.
Since I have been a lecturer in script-writing, I can’t help be honest, so if anyone asks me for a review, or comments they will always get the truth. I still have grave doubts about my own writing, I’ve always been the same and never believed all the awards even when I walked up to collect them. The only advice I can give any new writers is to sit down and write, do it and then get ready to change it again and again until it is right. It’s worth it.
I am happy to be self published, and I’ve been approached by a publisher and refused. It’s much harder on your own, but more rewarding. I’ve been published by two of the Big 5 way back in the 80’s and so far (I could be bribed) I’m happy to continue being self employed.
There are two amazing moments in life – when you hold your baby in your arms and when you hold your first book in your hands.
Well I can’t deprive my history students, so just a snippet this week as you’ve probably read enough already.
Nel Gwyn became the mistress of Charles II. There were ghastly rumours that she was ‘low born’ (please gasp here). Her mother died after falling into a ditch dead drunk – pun intended. Although 3 English cities all claim to be the birth place of this royal mistress, everyone seemed sure that the ditch, mentioned above, was in Westminster.
This is all a bit shocking as apparently Nel was a cross dresser for a while, calling herself William Gwyn, and she is reputed to have been either a child prostitute in her mother’s brothel or a street hawker of herring, oysters or turnips. So take your pick, we will never know for sure. This is a picture of her with clothes on and next time I’ll show you a picture of her without her clothes.
Nel Gwyn by Peter Lely 1675.