PALACES AND PRINCIPALS

TRAVEL

The next morning in Vienna we set off to visit the Belvedere Palace a complex of palaces built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. Yes, there are two palaces plus an orangery and stables. We walked from the hotel so I was pretty exhausted by the time we got there, it must have been in the hundreds of meters.

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It was a bit puzzling to see two palaces facing each other with gardens in between, I wondered if it was a ‘his and her’ situation but it seems they were hardly occupied as the royal family members had lots of other palaces to choose from. Today they are art galleries, but on one occasion when Maria Antonia married the French Dauphin (later to become Louis XVI) they hosted a ball there for 16,000 close personal friends.  That’s more than I have on Twitter, FB and BookBub combined. You wouldn’t like to pop here and follow me, would you? It will just take a second.

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lucinda-e-clarke

lower belvedere Photo: Andreas Praefcke - Self-photographed
Photo: Andreas Praefcke – Self-photographed

HISTORY

King Henry also has a problem with his wife Blanche. After 13 years she still hasn’t produced any offspring and Henry is also finding her rather boring in bed, so he has the marriage annulled on the grounds of “por impotancia respective.”  (And no, I’m not going into that here). This is a family blog.

Blanche II of Navarre

Here she is and butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth – poor lady. She was shipped off back to her parents and locked away for the rest of her life. Have I persuaded you yet that you DON’T want to be a princess?

Some say that due to witchcraft the marriage was never consummated, and they subjected poor Blanche to an examination to prove she was still a virgin.  The priests also questioned the prostitutes in and around Sergovia who all attested that King Henry was more than capable. (Well they would, wouldn’t they? Can you imagine the consequences if they said he was rubbish in the bedroom?) Below is a picture of Sergovia a few years later.

sergovia 4

AFRICA FACTS

I was incredibly privileged to have the opportunity of filming in deep rural areas and visiting places where tourists and even locals rarely go and I saw so many examples of the tenacity of the human spirit, especially in the educational sector. Despite having minimal funds these head teachers and staff worked miracles.

I’ve included many of these schemes in my books about my experiences in rural Africa – Truth, Lies and Propaganda, and I will tell you about some over the next few weeks.

Many blogs do state how important a book cover is, and maybe I could improve on this, but these guys were my crew and the book is also for them in memory of the times we spent together – so it’s staying as it is!

Until next time, take care

Lucinda

 

 

ANIMALS AND AFRICA

TRAVEL

The Schonbrunn zoo is managed scientifically and set among the gardens, with several pavilions set in the area it’s a really great place to spend a long afternoon. We walked all of it, and I know this because my feet told me I had.

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Today they focus on conserving species and they have also conserved some of the old buildings as well (apparently, they are in the baroque model – so remember you heard that first here on my blog). Oh, and the menagerie-buildings are after the Versailles model, I’m sure you needed to know that as well. Personally, I’d just look at the pretty pics of the animals.

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Red pandas look nothing like their giant cousins do they?  I noted that we saw elephants, a polar bear, meerkats, giraffe, zebra lion and eland with the comment that many of the animals were past masters at hiding behind the leaves, branches, and shelters.

HISTORY

Bishop of toledo

 

Now, do you remember that King Henry, uncle to little Isabella, just isn’t a statesman, he’s an intellectual and he’s indolent? He’s frivolous, loves splendour, colourful pageants, and filling his court with poets and dreamers. He is wildly extravagant and imposes taxes on his poverty-stricken people to pay for it all. He’s at his pleasure 24/7 and leaves it to John Pacheo, Marquis of Villena, and Alfonso Carillo, the Archbishop of Toledo to run the country.

That’s a picture of the Archbishop and not the king – you can tell that from his pointy hat.

AFRICA FACTS

Over the 30+ year period, I lost count of the number of radio and TV scripts I wrote. At one time I had 4 x 15 minute programmes running daily on the radio all translated into one of the 9 indigenous African languages and the totals must run into the thousands. It’s also sad that I seldom even thought to take still pictures of all the TV shoots – mind those were in the days when you took a photograph and – wait for it – traipsed all the way to the chemist or similar, handed in the film and waited several days before you could go back and collect your pictures – which were occasionally rather blurred.

few of the videos I made

Later when we were filming I rarely took pictures of the crew or the subjects until I was working on a series which also commissioned illustrated booklets to accompany the videos.

I was also unfortunate to lose all my photographs in 1994, every single one of them.

Want to know what happened? You can find out in Walking over Eggshells my first biography – the personal one.

Until next time, take care.

Lucinda

PANDAS AND PLANTS

TRAVEL

Now you may remember that Austria, with its capital Vienna, does not have a coastline, so sadly the Habsburg royal family could not have a seaside cottage.

But, nothing daunted, they decided to have another attraction instead. Can you guess what it is? A zoo! As the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I set it up in 1752 it’s the oldest continually operating zoo in the world.

We loved it and spent lots of time there particularly as they have giant pandas.

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The lady panda is called Yang Yang and there are three males Long Hui, Fu Long, and Fu Hu. What a lucky lady! And she must be a happy panda as in August 2007 Fu Long was born the first by natural insemination – and then 3 years later Fu Hu was born by natural mating. Yet another baby Fu Bao arrived in 2013 and then twins Fu Feng and Fu Ban.

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They were quite difficult to see, as they liked hiding in the leaves and DH tried to convince me that unless I was waving particularly nice bamboo leaves at them they wouldn’t wake up and come over for a chat.

HISTORY

The Dowager Queen, little Princess Isabella’s mother is sure that King Henry is out to get her children, she is quite paranoid about it, so she whips the two youngest off to another dark, damp and drafty castle in Aravelo to keep them safe.

Aravelo castle 2

The Princess Isabella has lessons and, under instruction from her mother spends an awful lot of time praying. She spends hours and hours each day on her knees.  Court etiquette is rigid, it’s more nunnery than a royal court. Her mother is so cruel she won’t even let her meet up with friends at the local shopping mall.

AFRICA FACTS

Last time I left off as we were filming in deep rural Africa on a project that was excavating the Devil’s Claw. A pharmaceutical company in Germany had tested the root and found it had benefits for arthritis so they ordered supplies from this rural community.

I accompanied the women who scoured the ground then pounced and dug up a root, taking only part of it before covering it over with soil again to continue growing – very ecological and sustainable. What astounded me is they seemed to know exactly where the roots are – the dry, sandy surface of the ground gave no indication that a root would be in exactly that place yet each time there it was a couple of inches below the surface.

Crew shot 0344

Not only had they prepared an ‘interesting’ lunch in the village hall for me and the crew they had also written and produced a play for us to shoot. A local villager consulted the witch doctor who (not surprisingly) prescribed Devil’s Claw for all his ailments. When we left they handed us bags full of roots, which DH tried later following the precise instructions, but from the look on his face, it didn’t taste nice at all.

All my books (except Unhappily Ever After my Fairyland comedy) are set in Africa which must be the most fascinating continent on earth.

AMIE 1 JAN 28 2018

You can find them all on my author page:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914/

or my web page: http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Till next time, take care

Lucinda

A PALACE AND THE DEVIL’S CLAW

TRAVEL

To make up for not being able to have a seaside cottage for the summer holidays, the Habsburgs built lovely gardens round their holiday shack which stretch way into the distance. We were there in May and the flowers, despite me not knowing a dandelion from a tulip, were delightful. I was rather surprised I didn’t see a single gardener as we walked around – they don’t mow the lawns and tend the gardens at night do they?

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There was also another surprise attraction I’ll share with you next week.

HISTORY

Last week I left poor little princess Isabella growing up lonely in a huge, dark, empty, dank castle in the middle of nowhere. (You may get the tissues out here).

Henry IV 3

Her father John II had arranged in his will for his children to be financially well cared for, but half-brother Henry doesn’t comply – either from a desire to keep his half siblings restricted or simply through ineptitude. Like his father before him, he is a totally incompetent king.

He just likes playing all day long and letting his advisors run the country (as you do when you’re king). Come on, be honest. Would you be bothered by your insane sister in law and her brats miles away when you could hunt, sit for your portrait, whore and play with your crown jewels all day long? Of course, you wouldn’t. So, he didn’t either.

 

AFRICA FACTS

There is a pharmaceutical company in Germany (I suspect there are several) who have discovered the benefits of a root growing in Africa that helps control arthritis. It’s called the Devil’s Claw. We were sent to make a programme about this which led to one of my most embarrassing moments.

The moment we stepped out of the car, we were greeted as we often were, with a group singing and dancing in national costume. I was then led into the village hall and to my horror up onto a stage and a paper thrust into my hands. It read “REASON FOR DAY MRS (REAL NAME)”

I was then asked to make a speech and I had no idea what to say. What I knew about their work digging up the Devil’s Claw roots you could write on a pin. This often happened to us, budget and time were so tight there was no chance of researching beforehand and no internet to take a quick peep.

This is what the root looks like and I’ll tell you more next time.

devils claw

THE FINAL WORD

WRS 13 FEB 2018

Till next time, take care.

Lucinda

 

LITTLE PRINCESS AND LAP DANCING

TRAVEL

So, we are still in Vienna. I’ll have to drag this out a bit as we don’t really travel all that much though I would love to go away more. The problem is the difficult people you meet that demand money to cart you about and let you sleep in their hotels and houses that stop us traveling more.

One thing that really struck both of us while in Vienna were the reminders of the last great war. For example, there were these memorials.

We also visited the Jewish Museum which had some excellent videos and I was riveted to the presentations – living history, people talking about their personal experiences. We spent a good couple of hours there, reading letters and stories about the resistance fighters and the concentration camps many of which were located in Austria.  (No photos allowed).

jewish museum vienna
Pi museum exterior By Gryffindor – Own work

jewish memorial vienna 2

This is another reminder for the Victims of Holocaust. Under this square are the excavated remains of a Jewish Synagogue from the Middle Ages, which had seen the tragic end of the Jewish exhaustion during that time.

 

When we got back to the hotel, this was waiting for us on the table. I thought it was a really nice touch.

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HISTORY

Mad queen Isabella Castile

If you remember we are in Spain in the town of Avila population at the time 1451, with 1,285 inhabitants in the province of Avila, Castile and Leon. Now I hope you’re not going to be difficult and ask me how or why it was in 3 provinces – that’s what the book said.

It isn’t an easy or a happy childhood. Little Isabella’s mother, Queen Isabella is mentally unstable.  She has periods of hysteria, and her husband and her children are afraid of her. Her madness is an inherited trait from the royal house of Portugal. (Apologies to the Portuguese – that’s what the book said).

When little Isabella is only 3, her father King John II dies, and he is succeeded by his son Henry from his first marriage.  He becomes Henry, or Enrique IV. It all gets very complicated doesn’t it, but the NHS at the time was not as efficient and people kept dying all the time. (Have you noticed Disney never mentions this fact).

THE LAP DANCING EPISODE

Now I promised you the story of the lap dancing club this week. Besides writing scripts for radio and television I was up for hire for anyone daft enough to pay me to write anything – as you can tell I’ve no morals at all. Hunger and shelter win out every time. But I was a little taken back when I was asked to write a radio ad for a lap dancing club.

I decided to raise the stakes a little here and it went something like this:

“Come to XYZ club and meet Mandy, who is working hard to provide for her poor granny who needs an expensive heart transplant. While she dances close to you (very close) you will be contributing to Help the Aged and making a beautiful girl very happy at the same time.”

“You can also get to meet Veronica, currently putting herself through post-grad school in micro-genetic bionics. She will be happy to chat with you over a bottle of champagne. Make it soon, as she will be leaving once she has been awarded her PhD.”

“You may be able to help Annette, who has no family at all. Sadly, they were all butchered in the revolution in her home country and now she is building a new life for herself. Come along and give her some love and encouragement.”

All lies, of course, I never got to meet any of them, and a guy who frequented the XYZ club told me none were a day under 40 and they’d all been around the block a good few times and looked very much the worse for wear.

I sighed and shamelessly ran all the way to the bank.

My web page – just in case you feel inclined. http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Until next week, take care.

Lucinda

 

 

 

 

TARTS AND TOWNSHIPS

There were carriages everywhere we looked in Vienna as if part of the city had got stuck in the 17th century, although the prices they quoted for a short ride were very much 21st century.

All the museum and art galleries were sensibly grouped together, so it was easy to walk from one to the other. In between, hot dog stalls were very popular, with every variety of sausage and every condiment you could think of. We were frequent visitors.

This is not the museum area because for some reason I didn’t take a photo, but they form 3 sides of a square and so conveniently in one area.

One place we had to eat though was Café Central. A revolutionary (Trotsky), a psychoanalyst (Freud), several writers and poets (including Polgar, Zweig and Altenberg) and an architect (Loos) walked into a café.

What sounds like the start of a joke was an everyday occurrence at Café Central (est. 1876). Over coffee, cake and the odd cigar, some of the greatest poets, philosophers and – it has to be said – storytellers the world has ever seen, got together in Vienna’s most attractive coffeehouse.

And then there was me as well! It was very difficult to choose which cakes to have while I tried to infuse the greatness of the past.

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HISTORY

John II of Castile married twice and his second choice was to Princess Isabella of Portugal and that was a big mistake!

OLD Q ISABELLA CASTILE

Now do please note that she is kneeling down and this is very important to the story, so please remember it.

In the cold, bleak town of Avila, in this dark and threatening castle, the Queen gave birth to a daughter, Isabella. She was second in line to the throne after her half-brother Henry. Then her mother had another boy and so now little baby Isabella was third in line.  She’s not expecting to be queen now.

ADD BREAK

GAUT BP02 townhouse

This is a street in Alexandra township which is a little to the north of Johannesburg town centre. Neat red brick houses were first built there as an upmarket area, but it was designated as a ‘native township’ and because this was before the 1913 Land Act, it was one of the few urban areas in the country where black people could own land under freehold title. We filmed in there several times, but always with a respected member of the community and a few extra helpers. With our expensive camera gear, we were great targets for the skabengas (gangsters/thieves).GUT BP02 Children crossing

Crossing the road can be quite dangerous – a kindergarten in Alexandra township.

So many people moved into the area and erected shacks in the gardens and alongside the road, that the services could no longer cope. It deteriorated into a large, sprawling slum, and several attempts have been made to upgrade living conditions, often thwarted by upsurges in violence.

I’ve written many stories about our visits in the townships in Truth, Lies and Propaganda.  https://www.books2read.com/u/47kzYN

We had many uplifting experiences and an amazing insight into other lives, both good, bad and funny.

You can check out all my books here:  http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Something for everyone, memoirs and traveling, humour and action/adventure.

Till next week, take care.

Lucinda

PS: If you’d like a Thursday guest slot on my blog, either pm me on Facebook or drop me an email:     lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com

CAFE AND CASTILE

We’d found a good Italian/Austrian restaurant to dine the night before in Vienna, so we earmarked it for the following night, their menu was extensive and the prices reasonable.

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But although we wandered the streets we were never to find it again!

We visited several more churches and I noticed with surprise that they were mostly Protestant. Living in Europe I’ve become used to seeing Catholic churches, but of course, it was in this part of the world that the Protestant movement began.

I found this amazing shop in the cellar and was tempted to buy until I remembered our small our little rabbit hutch at home.

HISTORY

I’ve decided that as I now live in Spain I should next showcase a very famous Queen, a woman I have to admire as she was so strong.

Her story is stranger than fiction, you couldn’t make it up.

Like many of her generation, she was very camera shy. Her grandfather was Henry III of Castile and this is a map to show where that was.

738px-Corona_de_Castilla_1400_en.svg
Based on Image: Conquista Hispania.svg de HansenBCN derivative work:

And he married Catherine of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster.  They had a son called John and he reigned as King John II of Castile from 1406 to 1454. He was only a year and 10 months old when he became king and he was one of the most incompetent kings on record.

(Don’t worry, we’ll get to the heroine next week), this is just the opening preamble just to confuse you).

ADD BREAK

Since all my books except one are set in Africa, I thought I would share some of my photos with you.

I took these when we were filming in the Northern Cape, a dairy farmer, and his family.

We found that it’s generally the women who farm, along with the household tasks, childrearing, water collecting and just about everything else. This then was an exception and the old man was a delight. He’s taken onboard every new practice he can and was making a real success of his farm. They even arrange for school visits to show what can be achieved.

Another reminder about the Thursday guest blogs. I am fully booked for March but no one earmarked for April. No publicity is bad publicity, so if you would like a feature, please email me lucindaeclarke@gmail.com   or lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com   or you can pm me on Facebook.

Till next week, take care.

 

PICKS AND PROSTITUTES

Once upon a time when I started writing for radio, I learned very quickly how to think in sound. It was easy to transport listeners from the bottom of the Mariana Trench to the heights of Mount Everest. All you needed was a sound engineer, a box of pebbles, a few whooshing noises, bubbles blown into a glass and so on.

Later when I graduated into writing for television, I was hauled over the coals more than once for including stock shots that would need to be purchased at enormous cost, so I learned to think in visuals – finding innovating ways around expensive underwater scenes and moon shots from Cape Canaveral.

In between, there were articles for magazines, speeches, newspapers, adverts etc etc.

Then, after a pretend retirement came the books. This can’t be so difficult I thought. I was wrong. The grammar Nazis criticised what I thought was perfect English, I’d been at it for years after all. But no, I’d erred on the wrong side of the written rules, which for a book novice like me, were unacceptable to the general reading public. So, enter the editors and hopefully, all those niggly things were put right. I had a better idea of where I was heading.

Now we come to the nasty bit. How to tell the world you have written a masterpiece (well a full-length novel) it was time to learn the marketing side.

I signed up for numerous ‘helpful’ newsletter and blogs, studied their advice, tried all kinds of different approaches. Most, however, were invitations to spend money on learning this technique or another. If only I spent anything up to $/£1,000 I would be an instant overnight success.

Not having that amount of spare cash lying around, I took what little I could gain from the ‘free’ bits, but it was only after a few months that I realized that one course of action contradicted another.

Use Pinterest – No, Pinterest is out Twitter is the new shout out.

Give book 1 in the series away for free and readers will buy the rest – no, a free book is only read by 2% of the readers who download it.

If you’re an unknown writer, you will only gain readers by giving your books away for cents. No, if you price them that low, everyone will consider them worthless.

Every day I must receive at least half a dozen ‘offers’ in my inbox. I’ve investigated the people behind these and it seems that most of them have had success with books – but mostly ‘how to’ books.

Many of them must be so busy running courses, recording podcasts and writing enticing emails to sell their advice to find the time to actually write. So, does that suggest they are making far more money from selling courses than they ever get in royalties?

The Big Hole, Kimberley

It reminds me of the stories of how so many people got rich during the diamond rush in Kimberley. They were not the miners at the rock face, nor the farmers who originally owned the land, but the merchants who supplied the shovels, picks, beds, tents, beer, and prostitutes to men who’d trekked for miles across land and oceans to make their fortune. The shop and brothel keepers may not have found the one diamond that made them rich, but they made a steady living supplying the tools along with hope to desperate men who handed them their last pennies.

The ones who succeeded in making a fortune from the diamonds themselves were those who could afford to buy several shares and then rent out their claims for a share of the profit, or, the men who determined the price of the diamonds once they were liberated from the rock.

Many of us probably feel like those miners. We don’t buy picks and axes, we buy space in promos, we burrow into the pages of social media, we collapse at the end of the day juggling life and marketing and networking while trying to find the time to write the next novel.

And that’s usually the bottom line for many of these promotional guides. ‘If you’re not selling, then write another book, build up your back catalog.’ That’s enough to keep most of us from complaining their system doesn’t work for writers who are now hundreds of dollars poorer while their sales figures barely peep over zero most days.

Of course, the bottom line is maybe our books are not good enough – our genre is not in vogue right now – the market is saturated – we don’t have the high-level contacts  – readers are now trained to only read free books – most people don’t read they prefer games and Netflix.

There could be any number of reasons, but the poor writer is left wallowing in a pit of self-doubt and worthlessness. Being driven to write is a disease we can’t escape and like a fly in a spider’s web, we are trapped vacillating between writing and marketing with only so many hours in the day to allocate.

What are your thoughts?

MEET VALERIE POORE

I have, I really have! What I mean is that I first met Val on Facebook, we got chatting, we enjoyed each other’s books, then we discovered a real live person we know in common and finally we met up twice – once in Amsterdam and again in Spain. We’re planning another meet up soon, so many of our early experiences are amazingly similar. A very warm welcome to a really nice person. Over to you Val.

VAL PIC

Firstly, thanks so much to Lucinda for letting me sneak in here this week. I’ve coveted a spot on her blog for ages, so now I’m here I’d better make it good!

So what can I say about myself? That I’ve been writing all my life? That I’m finally finding my creative outlet? Yes, well, none of that is very interesting is it? Perhaps it’s truer to say that I’m a writer by accident and it’s all Peter Mayle’s fault. Yes, that man has got a lot to answer for in more ways than one and now I’m addicted.

The thing is that like Lucinda, I lived in South Africa for a long time. How I got there is a story I have yet to tell in full, but it had to do with an errant husband and being very cold in the UK. In other words, we urgently (and I say that with emphasis) needed somewhere to escape to and I was determined it should be somewhere warm. ‘I don’t mind being broke, but I do mind being cold and broke,’ was what I said to him before we decided where it was we were going to flee to. The immediate outcome was three years on a South African farm, which I absolutely loved, along with the heat, the drought, the primitive conditions…hmm, I think I’m going off track here, but actually I did love it all. The end result was that I was so happy there I spent a total of twenty years in South Africa.KindleCover

When I came back to Europe in 2001, I missed it so much I decided to buy a barge and live on the water in the wettest country you could possibly find. There is a kind of logic to that but I’ll let you think about it.

Anyway, while I was still busy missing my former home in 2004, I read Peter Mayle’s book A Year in Provence. Now I know this book has had a mixed reception, but I really enjoyed it because I could see so many parallels between his experiences with local French country people and my own with South African rural people and I thought ‘I can do that’. And so I did. I wrote my own memoir about my life on our South African farm and I called it African Ways. It took me a while to finish it and then to publish, but it eventually came out in 2007.

Well, having done that, I got the taste and then the addiction for writing.

I went on to write a memoir about my first year of living on a barge, and then a novel about a child growing up on a barge in the early 1960s when the Cold War was at its height. Since then, I’ve notched up another four memoirs (mostly about boats and boating) and another novel. So, Peter Mayle, if you’re reading this, see what you started?

It is actually true I’ve always liked writing. I did quite a lot before when I was in South Africa; things like short stories that were read on the radio and radio plays that weren’t. But I’d never written whole books until African Ways. The trouble with Africa is it gets in your blood and so now I’m in the process of publishing the sequel to African Ways. Once again, I’ve wallowed happily in the memories of that fabulous country. I’m also working on a novel set in Kwa-Zulu Natal, one of its provinces and where I used to live, so you see I’ve got a lot in common with Lucinda. Oh and I’ll just say here I’ve loved all her Amie novels. They take me back there and I can wallow all over again (nothing like creeping round your blog host, is there?). VAL BOOK 3 SHEEP

So with that, all it remains for me to say is a huge thanks to Lucinda for this opportunity to ramble on about myself and my writing. I’ll keep doing it until I drop whether anyone buys my books or not, but I’d thrilled if anyone reading this does give them a try. Just in case, the link to my Amazon author page is here:

https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Poore/e/B008LSV6CE/

Val, I’ve no idea why it took so long for you to be on my blog, but you can come again soon – I adore all that creeping (cheques in the post).

This last book on the left is highly recommended, I laughed out loud all the way through and although Val tells me it’s only partly memoir-based, I’m not sure I believe her 🙂

Till next time, take care.

 

MY CHAT WITH VAL

This week I’m reposting a lovely interview I had with Valerie Poore.  She asked such interesting questions and I had to think quite hard to answer them. I’ve done a cut and paste from her blogger site as there is no facility to reblog.  So sadly, you can’t see the lovely picture of her barge in Rotterdam Harbour that Val has on her page. This is the link if you want to go and have a peep. https://vallypee.blogspot.com.es/2018/01/from-africa-to-amsterdam-meet-lucinda-e.html?spref=fb

From Africa to Amsterdam: meet Lucinda E Clarke

Posted: 27 Jan 2018 02:20 PM PST

It’s been a long time since I did a weberview here, so I’d like to offer a very warm welcome to Lucinda E Clarke, whose amazing books set in Africa have entertained me on many a long cold evening in Europe. 

DEE Friday morning market

Lucinda has written three full length memoirs, one humorous novel and a four book action adventure series. Apart from the humorous book, all her writing is set mainly in Africa, which is where she has lived most of her life. She now lives in Spain, but I can tell from her books her heart, like mine, still lives in the southern hemisphere. 

 set 1 of books
Lucinda’s memoirs and her humorous novel Unhappily Ever After

So Lucinda, I’m going to mix my questions up a bit, but they are all things I’ve been curious about since I started reading your memoir ‘Walking on Eggshells’

Firstly, then, I’ve read all your books (I think) and have enjoyed every one of them (I know), but which of your books have you most enjoyed writing?

Val, firstly thank you for the opportunity to talk about me, myself my books and my life – no one I meet in person is the slightest bit interested (sad eh? I don’t believe it! VP)

I most enjoyed writing the 4thbook in the Amie series “Amie: Cut for Life,” because I was beginning to feel like a proper author. I knew where I was going with it, even though I never map out of any of my books. It took longer than the others, but I believe the end product was the best. I think I’m getting a bit better with practice. Only another 50 or so to go and I should have cracked it.

Well,  I’ve just finished your Worst Riding School in the World, Parts 1 and 2 and I laughed my socks off, so I think you’ve more than cracked it if you can write both humour and drama so well! Anyway, I saw you mentioned how much you loved Botswana. Is that the country you have in mind when you are writing your Amie novels and how well did you get to know Botswana before you moved to South Africa?

I lived in Botswana for almost 3 years and it’s the real Africa. South Africa is more a first world infrastructure (shopping malls, high rises, excellent road network etc) dropped down in the middle of the African bush. There was none of that in Botswana, though we were beside ourselves when they opened the first cinema and a Spar shopping supermarket in Francistown, such luxury!

 ALL AMIE BOOKS OCT 2017
Lucinda’s action adventure series set in Africa

I can imagine that. It sounds wonderful in your books, though. Can I ask which you find it easier to write: fact or fiction and why?

The fact is so much easier – you are simply recounting what happened, so the story is all mapped out in your head. You don’t get to page 149 and suddenly realize your heroine can’t come to the rescue because you’d put her in a wheelchair and left her in a prison three thousand miles away!

Haha, true, but fact has its own challenges, doesn’t it? Do you think your travels have helped you as a writer? If so, in what way?

Goodness yes! Despite the reviewer who told me I didn’t know what I was talking about (she had never been to Africa, but she had seen it on the television news). You get to meet people who have a different mindset, opinions, knowledge, education and you realize that everything you have been taught until then, was only from one point of view – possibly the media in your own country. Our thoughts are shaped by the propaganda we are fed. “Travel broadens the mind” is one of the truest sayings I’ve ever encountered.

I so agree with that. But how do you think living in Africa has influenced you and your writing?

I was just so incredibly lucky. Like you, I was far away from the suburban areas, living in the bush. My filming took me to chiefs’ kraals, witchdoctor’s huts, agricultural projects, schools, hospitals, local government – I could go on and on and on. I was so privileged to be welcomed to places where I would joke with my African crew “Look after me guys, I’m the only white person for miles and miles!” So many of the people I met touched my heart, so few possessions, so brave, so accepting and often bewildered by the fast-paced modern world that was trying to drag them into the mainstream.

One shoot I remember was when the African government official could not understand why the San (Bushmen) should be allowed to hunt and live as they had for centuries. No, the official policy was they must live in houses with running water and send the children to school and the men must get jobs. They had rounded them up and pushed them into this housing estate miles from anywhere and the San looked so miserable. It was so sad; they didn’t want to live what we call a conventional life.

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Lucinda with an African chief

Strange how even Africans can totally misunderstand other Africans. Now, as writers we are always striving to improve, aren’t we? Is there anything you find difficult in the writing process, and if so, how are you trying to overcome it? (Sorry, this is a boring question, but I really am curious!)
There are some days when the words don’t come – onset of word retrieval or lack of. Other days I can’t type fast enough to keep up. I get twitchy if I don’t write for a couple of days, but then I’m writing up blogs, or the newsletter or commenting on social media or composing reviews. Basically, I love to write and that’s what was so wonderful about my work in the media. I would be bouncing out of bed screaming “Yeah! It’s Monday!” – although I’d probably worked right through the weekend as well!

I’m a workaholic and was heartbroken leaving the production work behind when we left South Africa. If I feel I’ve hit a brick wall in a book, I plough on, even though I might delete a whole lot later. I’m very disciplined having worked to deadlines so often, I occasionally have to tell myself that it’s not a train smash if I didn’t get 5,000 words done today – I am supposed to be retired after all.

My word, I’d be delirious to write even 1000 words every day. That’s amazing, but Lucinda, I know you’ve been writing for years; do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?

Oh yes, it was a report on the Sunday School class I was teaching (to win brownie points to get into teacher training). It was published in the church magazine, but I think I was the only one ever to read it, as I snaffled all the copies and took them home to read! I cringe when I think about it now.

Now you’re being too modest, I’m sure! Are you writing anything at the moment? Can you tell us what it is, and when it’s likely to be available?

I am currently writing book 5 in the Amie series. She’s the young English girl I uproot from the London suburbs and dump in Africa and then when war breaks out and the last evacuation plane takes off, she is left behind to survive as best she can. Since book 1 I have put her through all kinds of hell, and in this book, she gets mixed up in high-level international politics over mineral rights which are necessary for nuclear devices. I can’t give much more than that away at this stage but she is still under threat from the government forces who are using her. I hope to have it out sometime this year, but I’ve been so busy marketing I’ve neglected the writing side. I need an extra 6 hours a day!

Well, that sounds as if it’s going to be as unputdownable as the others! I won’t keep you any longer now, Lucinda, as I’m going to pack you off to your keyboard to get writing! Thank you so much for joining me here today. It’s been great to have you on my barge for a chat. At least it hasn’t been windy today so you haven’t had to cling to your cuppa.

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The day I met Lucinda on her flying visit to Amsterdam. A meeting I enjoyed because I admire her immensely

For anyone interested in sampling some of Lucinda’s great books, click here for her Amazon author page.

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Have a good week allemaal. I’ll be back with all that’s wet and watery next time!