MEET LESLEY HAYES

Lesley Hayes

My guest this week lives in Oxford, England and is a psychotherapist by profession and a prolific writer. I enjoy her books which I would describe as deep, leaving lots of room for thought long after you read the last page.  Again, Lesley is one of the earliest virtual friends I met on Facebook and we’re both in the Indie Authors Support and Discussion group. We re-tweet regularly and I do recommend her books they are truly inspiring.

My name is Lesley Hayes and I write… It feels like the opening to a confession at Writer’s Anonymous, and in a way that’s appropriate. Writing is a kind of addiction, a craving that can attack the soul with the sharp bite of a need demanding to be answered in the dead of night, at dawn, or at any unguarded point throughout the day. I began writing stories while I was at school, neglecting every other subject (apart from History, which intrigued me with its many lies and mysteries) and ducked university at the age of 17 to work on Honey magazine, where my first short story was published. It was the beginning of a long and fruitful love affair with writing for publication, which has weaved in and out of everything else I’ve done over the ensuing years.

Oh yes, I should probably mention that I got married and divorced twice, had two children by the time I was 23, moved to Oxford in my late thirties and re-invented myself, fell in and out of love with disregard to gender a number of times, trained and practised as a psychotherapist for twenty years, and adopted a cat. For the past five years I have shed most of my therapy clients and emerged all damp-winged from the chrysalis of one identity into the bright uncertain dawn of another. The muse never really went away all those years as a therapist; she simply bided her time, as muses tend to do. I am impatient when it comes to change, and got quickly bored with knocking on the door of agents this time around, so in 2013 I began self-publishing my newborn novels and their older sibling short stories, many of which had been previously broadcast on BBC Radio Oxford.

The first novel to erupt with genie-like eagerness from the unplugged bottle was The Drowned Phoenician Sailor, which begins with the death of a psychotherapist (go figure.) This was swiftly jostled aside by A Field Beyond Time, which I’d actually been in the process of writing for ten years during my years as a therapist before the awakened muse finally goaded me into completing it. Round Robin, Dangerous People, and The Other Twin soon followed, and I have another in the pipeline which is still so top secret I would have to kill Lucinda if I disclosed it.

A writer’s life is often a solitary one (not so different from that of many psychotherapists) and as an introvert I am protective of my personal space and dread it when I’m invited out to show my face in public. You won’t catch me at book signings and literary gigs, parading my authorship and touting my wares, and the best thing about writing this for Lucinda is that I’m invisible. However, I’m no recluse and have a number of close friends and a cherished partner and Oxford is the perfect place to live with mild to moderate invisibility among other writers, eccentrics and people of diverse religions, ethnicity, and sexual preference. If you come across any of my books, read carefully between the lines if you want to find me… I have written clues to my true self into the characters of every one.

If you want to risk that journey visit my website: www.lesleyhayes.co.uk where you can find links to all my books. If you want to take a faster track follow the links here:

The Drowned Phoenician Sailor   http://bit.ly/1FQ5Vw9

A Field Beyond Time    http://bit.ly/UrraBL

Round Robin     http://bit.ly/1EPqxRh

Dangerous People       http://bit.ly/1OKTNBH

The Other Twin    http://bit.ly/2gzkfEF

Oxford Marmalade        http://bit.ly/1wQ6WN0

Thank you Lesley for being my guest.

MEET RICK JOHNSON

My guest today is one of the very first I met on Facebook and he has been one of my most supportive friends. We have the same sense of humour and all Rick’s books are funny and off the wall. He’s written a wide range of quirky novels, including talking dogs who operate in gangs, the topsy-turvy world of black plantation owners employing white slaves, to a man who loves his vacuum cleaner. You never know quite what to expect when you open one of Rick’s books.

ricks dog

Instead of a photo of the author, here is the Dog – his owner is very shy. Over to you:

I decided to enter the world of writing a few years ago because I knew I couldn’t spend all of my time eating banana Moon Pies and waiting for Sandra Bullock to wake up one day and deciding that she was head over heels in love with me. Little did I know at the time that some days in the writing world can be as confusing as a vegetarian trying to find a bite of supper at an all meat barbeque.

rick pic 1

Luckily, I had the support of friends as I decided to venture into this world. When I told a few that I was going to write a book and title it Trailer Trash the emotional outpouring support I received was overwhelming. One friend informed me that perhaps just possibly I might make it all the way up to chapter two. Another friend mentioned that I couldn’t name a book Trailer Trash because it sounded too much like a stereotype. I kept asking my dog what he thought, but he never would say anything one way or the other. Despite the misgivings of my supportive friends, I decided to go ahead and write the book. 107 chapters and 108,000 words later, I typed The End. My dog never really said much about my achievement on that day, but he did give me a high five. In the end, I think a fairly entertaining story popped out of my head.

rick pic 2

After all the effort and time invested in the first book, I decided to write a second book, mainly for my entertainment. I decided to title it Love in the Box because the story revolved around the antics of employees who work at a fuel center. I was told by some friends who grudgingly admitted that they liked Trailer Trash that I couldn’t publish Love in the Box because the idea of a white transvestite with a black girlfriend would offend someone. Doing what I do best, which is doing the opposite of what people tell me to do, I published it. A few people finally admitted that they got some chuckles out of the book.

A DOGs BEST GOOBER MASTER COPY

By this time, my dog was taking some interest in the writing world, and one afternoon over burgers and milkshakes he suggested that we write a book together. Basically, the book was about some of our adventures, and all the posts the dog kept posting on Facebook. I let him decide the title of our book, and he came up with A Dog’s Best Goober.

By now, my creative juices were flowing, and Sandra Bullock still hadn’t discovered that she was head over heels in love with me, so I came up with an idea for another book. When I pitched the idea to my dog, he just rolled his eyes and walked away.

ric pic 4

Living in the southern part of the United States this idea almost caused a riot when I informed some people what I was going to write. I was told that I absolutely could not write this book and have it published. One person even asked if I was trying to get killed. No, not really. I wanted to write a story based on the time period of the United States Civil War. However, I wanted to turn history upside down, inside out, and every which way but loose. I wrote the book based on that time period, but the plantation owners were blacks whose ancestors emigrated from Africa to settle a new country and the slaves just happened to be white. It seems some people were uncomfortable with the idea of unpigmented slaves picking cotton out in the fields while singing gospel and rap music. I never could see what the big deal was all about because I knew that I was going to free those white cotton pickers at the end of the book, and Heirloom Plantation was born.

rick pic 5

I wasn’t ready to give up this writing thing just yet, and when I told my dog about the next book, I was planning he got so excited that he started doing back flips in the backyard and throwing banana Moon Pies at the neighbors. I wanted to write a book where all the main characters were dogs, so The Ruffians was born. It was fun to develop Butch, Empty, Jim, Dandy, and Mixer into the local neighborhood watch group. Though the humor might have been crude at times I’m really proud of it. It most definitely isn’t a child’s book. The dog would be reading over my shoulder as I typed, and in parts he would go absolutely nuts!

ric pic 6

Next came my first co-authored book with Natalie Alder. I really don’t think she knew what she was doing when she suggested we write a series. The first book, The Vacuum Chronicles, basically is about a lonely accountant who lost his virginity to a vacuum cleaner. That’s probably enough said about that. We’re currently writing our second book The Ice Cream Man Chronicles.

Currently, The Being is in the capable hands of my editor, and I’m working on The Angelic Rabble-Rousers which is turning out to be a whole lot of fun to write. I’m also still eating banana Moon Pies and waiting on Sandra Bullock to fall in love with me.

In the end, don’t let anyone dissuade you from your dreams. You can do whatever you set your mind on. It’s your dreams and your destiny. Walk that path you envision, dream big, and reach for the stars!

P.S. I’ll let you know if Sandra Bullock ever falls in love with me.

Thank you for being my guest Rick and if Sandra Bullock phones I’ll send her right over.

You can find all Rick’s books here:

https://www.amazon.com/Rick-Johnson/e/B00L0J5E10/

 

MEET TOM BENSON

This week’s writer is one I am really happy to introduce. Firstly, he helped me set up my web page (no, not true, he set it up for me – I’m clueless) and we read each other’s books way, way back when I was still new to social media. He held my hand every step of the way.

tom benson

The book Tom’s chosen to showcase in this guest blog is one I’ve read and I liked it so much that I bought the second in the series as well. Having been married twice to men who have also served in the forces, it was like getting a peep into what really goes on behind the scenes ‘among the boys’. Girls get curious about these things you know.

A Life of Choice   West Germany   April 1992

“Thanks, mate,” I said, accepting a bottle of beer from one of my soldiers.

“What are you going to miss most about leaving the military?” he said.

“Apart from the camaraderie, I’ll miss getting together with a bunch of the guys and putting the world to rights.”

“How will you deal with it?”

“I’ve got a long-term plan.”

“Don’t tell me it involves this idea of yours to be a writer?”

“Lee,” I said. “Twenty-three years ago my family laughed when I said I was going to be a soldier.”

He choked with the neck of his beer bottle still between his lips. A few of the other lads laughed as Lee wiped the beer from his face and shirt.

“You must have been a handful as a baby, Lee,” one of the guys said, which caused them all to laugh at Lee again.

“Staff Benson has just said he’s going ahead with his memoirs,” Lee said.

“If he said he is, he will,” Corporal Barr said. “You should know him by now, mate.”

I winked at the NCO, and we chinked our beer bottles together. “Thank you, Steve.” I turned to Lee who was having another go at drinking from a bottle.

I shook my head. “Oh, ye of little faith,” I said. More laughter followed.

TOM BENSON BOOK

Northeast England   January 2016

“I’ve pressed the button,” I said. “A Life of Choice: Part One, is published.”

My wife said, “How many parts will there be?”

“I’ve broken down my military career into five logical segments, and I aim to have all of them published by the end of 2017.”

“How do you know it will work out?”

“Apart from the other novels, short stories and poetry, I’ve written this story several times since 1996.”

“Are you not worried about anybody taking you to court?”

“No. I’ve listed the appropriate personnel for each unit and time period. I’ve got the real names, and allocated each a new name, description, age and home town.”

“Does it feel like you’re reliving some of your career?”

“Yeah. I’ve written the story in first person point of view, and I occasionally think the fictional lead character has had a great time; at least until he got married.”

I got a raised eyebrow and a scowl from across the room, but I’d been getting them for forty years.

Just wait until the film offers come in Tom!

Author Website:  http://www.tombensonauthor.com

A Life of Choice: Part One – links

Amazon Preview/Buy:  http://amzn.to/2pnVWxn

BookLinker – Universal:  myBook.to/A_Life_of_Choice_Part_One