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.

 

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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.

 Crew shot 0345
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.

 IMG_4617
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.

Lucinda is also active on Facebook

And on Twitter

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

 

TOURS AND TRUTHS

votive church

Since we had purchased a 24 hour ticket for the Vienna HOHO bus next morning we made for the bus stop and got on the wrong bus. We hopped off and while waiting for the bus we wanted, we visited the Votive Kirk.

This was built following the attempted assassination of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853, by his brother Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian to thank God for saving his life.

The next bus took us past the Burgtheater and then out into the countryside.

It was a pleasant drive, through Grinzing as far as the Klasterneuburg monastery. The weather was cold and overcast and no one got off at any of the stops, possibly because they were unsure when there would be another bus back to the centre of the city.

A third bus drive took us out of the city in the opposite direction, the north east, to Donauturn, which is the park area enjoyed by the Viennese. There is a huge tower there a restaurant and a fun fair.  We also passed over the Danube with many cruise boats plying to and fro and tried to work out the where the Danube splits into 4, the river, the tamed river, the canal and the lagoon overflow.

We wandered round the city centre for a while found a great Italian restaurant and that day, despite the bus tours we walked 9.5 kilometres – a gold medal level for me.

HISTORY

By 1944, the eldest princess, Elizabeth had also joined the army, mending trucks and teaching drivers to drive and teaching driving instructors how to teach driving to people who couldn’t drive. I know this is true, because my mother was in the same section and she had pictures of them.

ADD BREAK

The second of my career memoir sees me returning to South Africa and once more writing scripts for video production. Eventually, I founded my own small production house and made dozens of movies for international conferences, awards ceremonies and … for heaven’s sake I made programmes for anyone who would pay me. Over 15 years I traveled Africa shooting (camera kind) in deep rural areas, meeting chiefs, witchdoctors, celebrities, politicians and ordinary folk. The tales are both heart-warming, sad and educational (did you know some animals are gay?).

More Truth, Lies and Propaganda

Caroline died last night. It was a long, lingering and particularly nasty death – just as I had planned. I had originally decided to kill her by chopping her to pieces under a combine harvester, lots of blood and gore flying everywhere. I could see the birds flying up in protest, small insects bombarded by pieces of her, and the cries of the crowds gathered to stare at the miniscule remains of what had once been a beautiful, young lady. But then at the last minute I changed my mind. Why destroy the peace of the English countryside?

I promised at the end of my last book (Truth, Lies and Propaganda) that I would tell you how I finally got rid of Caroline, so I have described her demise at the end of this book.

Are you curious to know what Caroline had done to deserve a vicious and torturous death? Quite frankly I haven’t the faintest idea. Perhaps she is the heroine in a book I’ve not written yet. She is a marvellous example of how you can do exactly what you want to do if you are a writer, as long as you don’t put it into practice in everyday life.

As authors we control the lives of those we create, it’s one of the perks, but we have a lot less control over our own lives. What was I doing, sitting in a small front room in London, my feet freezing despite the thick woolly socks and furry slippers, my fingers numb as they pecked at the keyboard?

mtlp-cover-v4-small-pic3

I glanced up at the grey, leaden sky and shivered. I could hear the swish of the cars passing by as their tyres skidded over the wet tarmac and the slap, slap sound from wellington boots as people walked past the house. Years earlier I hadn’t even heard of SAD, the syndrome where you get depressed by bad weather and lack of sunshine. Here in London, I had not seen the sun for several days. I remembered my first airplane trip when we rose above the clouds, and there, to my amazement, was the sun, throwing its beams over the top of the fluffy white pillows in the sky. It was still there, of course it was! How stupid of me to think the sun had deserted us, but that’s the feeling you get when you don’t see it for days and days.

What was even worse, this weather was destroying my creativity. I battled to put words on paper, even though I had a contract to write a series of radio programmes for the South African Broadcasting Corporation. (I shall refer to them as the SABC in the future as I’m far too lazy to type it all out each time).

I had recently returned from living in Durban, a city on the east coast of South Africa, fronting the warm Indian Ocean. There, the words flew straight from my brain and magically appeared on the screen, well sort of if you get my drift, I’m using a little poetic licence here.

I began daydreaming about the work I had done in the past, the fun I had with the amazing people I had met. I remembered the excitement of working in the SABC radio studios in Johannesburg, the friends from the Communications Department in Durban and all the wonderful experiences out in the African townships with the crew, while filming a wide variety of programmes.

But that was all over. I had just finished the last SABC programme and I doubted they would ever give me another series, I lived too far away. The classroom beckoned a return to the profession I had trained for decades earlier.

I was not looking forward to it one little bit. I had heard tales of the modern monsters who now inhabited the hallowed halls of learning. If it was bad 30 years before, it was even worse now, ‘Health and Safety’, and ‘I Know My Rights’ had seen to that. It seemed to me that a black belt in judo and other martial art qualifications prepared you better for the classroom these days, than the three years they offered you in teacher training college in the 1970s.

What was worse, I was not living in the best area of London either, so I was expecting the worst if they even considered offering me a job. I’d not graced a classroom for years, and I was just a little bit out of touch. No, I was a lot out of touch. The kids would make mincemeat of me.

Till next week take care.

MEET ADRIAN STURROCK

Now I’m cheating a little here because in October I had Adrian as a guest in my newsletter, but I just adore the way he strings words together and I didn’t have enough space to include everything – so, here he is again 🙂  Making no excuses!! We all need a good laugh, especially on a Thursday morning.  🙂

P1040552 - Version 6

Adrian Sturrock is a writer, occasional musician, teacher and ethnic minority (except when in Wales), specialising mostly in observation and unconsidered opinion. He currently lives in Buckinghamshire UK with wife Natalie: his travel companion, best friend and the person responsible for keeping him out of trouble on social media. They have three children between them.

Adrian has been published on www.dcpolitick.com, and excerpts of his poetry/lyrics displayed alongside those of Benjamin Zephaniah in Luton Town Hall (though it is very unlikely that Benjamin is aware of this). He has been smiled at by Madonna and once spent an afternoon watching Ace Ventura, Pet Detective in Barry Gibb’s living room, where David English remarked on his shoes.

He is the founder member (singer/songwriter) of the highly unsuccessful band, God of Small Things, with which he recorded two studio EPs. (There are rumours that some of these songs even sold on iTunes.) His solo sets include the highs of playing to an audience of thousands at Lord Rothschild’s 82nd birthday bash and the lows of having to endure an audience of three elderly women eating soup. Tony Visconti once said of his songwriting, ‘Sorry, not my cup of tea’. Adrian intends recording again in the near future.

This bit is about the book.    https://www.amazon.com//dp/B0764KC23N

SatNav_eB_V1

I had originally intended to lie to you. I haven’t had a change of conscience on this issue. It’s just that I realise that I probably won’t get away with it. That’s the problem with the general public; they tend to eventually work things out. So I’m afraid that you are now stuck with the truth.

It was never going to be a dramatic lie. I wasn’t about to try to sell you a dodgy time-share or claim to be a kidnapped Nigerian prince in desperate need of your bank details. It was more about the timescale of events in this book. I was going to lead you to believe that this road trip was one single linear journey, a grand forty-day adventure across some of the best roads, towns, cities and mountain regions in central Europe. In reality, the trip was completed in three sections. This is due to the fact that I have a day job to factor in. Life is indeed a cruel mistress.

Between road trips one and three, the Syrian crisis happened, Brexit divided the UK pretty much down the middle and Prime Minister, Theresa May, declared herself the personification of ‘the will of the people’. There have also been a number of terrorist attacks across Europe, including Paris, London, Brussels, Istanbul, and Nice, allegedly born out of perceived cultural or religious differences but really due to a lack of respect between peoples.

Since this book was written, Donald Trump has become the US President and Mike Pence his Vice-President. Not even Mr Disney himself could have anticipated that one day Donald and Mickey would be running the White House.

What had prompted me to buy a sports car—for those who care, the car we used was a Mazda MX5 Roadster Coupe Sports 2ltr Graphite Limited Edition—was a sudden threat of redundancy at work. Yes, I know! One would have thought that I might have opted for quickly consolidating my financial position. I thought I might have considered this too. Instead, my feelings of insecurity led me to a surprise epiphany—it struck me that one can play safe all one’s life and still be screwed over; that good guys neither come first nor last—mostly because nobody is really watching.

Sometimes, the best way to stick a finger up at ‘the man’ is to defiantly indulge in something that excites you. Then, even if you lose, you win. So I bought the car—though I didn’t speak this train of thought out loud to my wife at the time. (Actually, I probably did. A few large glasses of pinot noir can make me a prolific and uninhibited orator. My dancing gets better too.)

As things turned out, while there were a whole series of redundancies at work, my own position remained safe. My first reaction was, ‘Woo-hoo! I’m still standing.’ My second reaction was, ‘Shit, I’m still standing … here!’ But that’s a conversation for another time.

Having bought the car, my mind then moved on to the question of how I could make best use of it. I felt that only using it for the ten-minute journey to and from work and for grocery shopping didn’t really cut it. I needed a proper reason to own a car like this.

‘I was thinking,’ I said to my wife one Sunday morning over breakfast, ‘how might you feel if I was to take off into France for a few days, you know, to get to have a proper drive of the car?’

‘If you want to,’ she said. ‘You not inviting me?’

‘I didn’t think you’d want to come,’ I said, surprised by her response. ‘For me, it would be an exciting drive. For you, well, I thought you’d see the idea of it as just a “bloody long time in a car”.’

‘I can do a bloody long time in a car,’ she said.

‘Okay,’ I said.

So I began to map out our bloody long time in a car.

“Adrian takes you on a journey of story, introspection, and wit; a journey well worth taking”

– Lane Belone, Founder of Increase Freedom

 “This read is a lot of fun, especially for travel-lovers and adventurers! I came out admiring how the author communicated the culture of the places he visited through an original voice, portraying his own expertise as an artist. Would definitely recommend to other travel enthusiasts!”

– Casey M. Millette, Author of the Cursed series

Keep up to date with all things Adrian Sturrock by subscribing to his rather lovely website:  www.adriansturrock.com Here, you can find out more about the locations in this book, and explore, amongst other things, photos taken during the road trip, together with information about routes and even a selection of hotels used.

Also, follow Adrian on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

His second book, RANDOM: a collection of articles, will be published in early 2019. Well, that is a while to wait, but in the meantime, this one is definitely going on my TBR list. Thank you, Adrian.

 

OPERA AND OPPORTUNITY

TRAVEL

Hidden along the Stephansplatz in the centre of Vienna are several little arcades, and I wanted to explore them all.

IMG_0838

and then, much to my surprise there was this huge screen outside the Opera House showing an operatic performance. We stood and watched for ages until …

DH spied a Hop on Hop off bus and there was no stopping him – there is no shortage of them in Vienna which is geared up for tourists. We took the complete circuit of the Red route to get our bearings and got off a stop early to visit the Theseus Temple. It’s a rather strange place, even if you ignore the statue of the naked man outside, but what this uh, sculpture represents I have no idea.

By this time we had walked 8.2 kilometres, so time to find food – schnitzels of course and make for bed.

HISTORY

King George and his queen were very brave and stayed in London during the war instead of running away.  They did send the princesses to stay in their holiday home in the countryside.

 

buckingham palace
Buckingham Palace
WINDSOR CASTLE 2
Windsor castle, holiday home

 

 

 

 

 

ADD BREAK

While my first memoir Walking over Eggshells focused on my relationship with my Narcissistic mother (thank you, Donald Trump, for explaining this condition to the whole world) and the effect it had on my life, my other two memoirs focus on my career in writing for radio and television. The first is called Truth, Lies and Propaganda – and I’m a master in propaganda, in fact, I deserve a Ph.D.in the subject.

Truth, Lies and Propaganda

I have decided that tomorrow I am going to kill Caroline. I’d like to squash her flat under a road roller, or push her off the top of the Empire State Building, but I’m not sure how I could get her there, and I suspect Health and Safety have got it securely enclosed by now. I can’t shoot her as I’ve no idea where I’d get a gun, and a knife means getting up close and personal and I don’t want her blood all over me. I could poison her, but then I don’t know very much about poisons, and I really should dispose of her in a more interesting way. I’ve grown to hate her, and I want her death to be lingering and painful.

For months she has caused me unmentionable pain and heartache. I’ve sat up all night worrying about her, and if I give up and go to bed, her very presence has caused me to toss and turn until the early hours. I have to put an end to this. She’s got to go. So, how am I going to dispose of her?

 A combine harvester, that’s the answer!

I will mash her to pieces in a peaceful and idyllic cornfield, while the birds sing and the soft wings of the butterflies barely disturb the air. Her screams will resonate as she is dismembered into bite-sized chunks between the rotating blades and her blood spurts metres into the air turning the ripened, golden maize a brilliant red.

Yes, that’s what I’ll do tomorrow.

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a writer. In those early days, it seemed such a glamorous occupation, I so admired those people who could transport others into a land of fantasy, take them back in time to another world or forward into the future on another planet. What was more, you, the writer, were in control! You could give your characters a headache, or better still, break their legs or pop them into a wheelchair, and you could kill them off in so many different and exciting ways.

How about leaving them to be gnawed to death by rats, or drowning them in a vat of vintage wine, or poisoning them with their own birthday cake?

Of course, you can be nice to your characters as well. You can present her with a loving, rich, faithful and successful husband and four adorable children just like those in ‘Little House on the Prairie’, and make her stunningly beautiful at the same time. Now she’s beginning to sound nauseating, and you hate her already don’t you?

It’s time to make things go wrong. Enter the nymphomaniac, blonde secretary with the very, very, short skirt barely covering her knickers, legs that start at her armpits, big boobs and a predatory nature. Now, that’s more exciting isn’t it?

TLP HIGHER RES

As a child, I had very little control over my life so writing was extra important to me. It was the only way I could escape from the misery of everyday life. I would sit in my room and scribble silly little stories in an exercise book and then run and show them to my mother. She was not kind and sneered at my earliest attempts to influence the world of books – although my grandfather, a reluctant writer himself, was more encouraging.

A huge influence on me in those days was Jo in ‘Little Women’. I can’t remember how many times I read Louisa May Alcott’s story. Jo began writing when she was young, and I cheered for her when she sold a story and bought a carpet for the house, and then another story which helped keep the family comfortable in difficult times while their father was away fighting in some war or other. (At least that is what we were told. He wouldn’t have run off with another woman, would he? Or been serving time?) Jo was the heroine of the family for me, and I dreamed of making a fortune by writing such wonderful books that everyone wanted to read them.

Of course, life isn’t like that, and the usual questions came up as I reached the last of my school years.

“Do you want to be a secretary, a nurse, or a teacher?”

Frankly, I didn’t want to be any of them. My vision of secretarial work was being a lackey to some overbearing, loud-mouthed man in some dingy office. I would be sent to collect his dry cleaning, sharpen his pencils and spend hours thumping away at a typewriter making thousands of mistakes. I would never make a good secretary. Even today, I’m ashamed to say, I can’t touch type, my eyes are constantly glued to the keys, and even at my advanced age I still make thousands of mistakes.

Nursing was a definite no-no. I fainted at the sight of blood, not a prerequisite for a medical career, you’d agree. Even in primary school, they sent for my mother to come and take me home after I had fainted in class. The doctor was called, and I was put to bed for the rest of the day. And what had been the cause of all this? It was the human nervous system. The teacher had told us to open our biology books at page such and such and there, in bright, luridly coloured pictures, we could see what happens when you prick your finger. They showed the path taken by messages as they sped to the brain along the nerve highways and back again, armed with the new information that ‘Ow! That hurt!’

I even feel a bit queasy now just writing about it.

I collapsed several more times in high school, each time they decided to rip open a heart, an eyeball or some hapless animal’s lung. But the results were less dramatic and I was no longer in the spotlight for my disgraceful behaviour. The teacher simply instructed two of the biggest lads to grab me under the armpits, drag me through the door, and prop me up against the outside wall of the biology lab.

So that left teaching. I agreed to become a teacher as it seemed the least daunting career that could possibly be suitable. Not that I had any experience of children, they were about as foreign to me as the pygmies in the Congo. However, I convinced myself that teachers had nice long holidays, and they finished work early at three o’clock every afternoon.

I tried one more time, but my last few whines about wanting to be a writer were firmly ignored, and that was that. Dickens, the Brontë sisters, and Shakespeare would never have to turn in their graves worrying that I would pose any threat to their sales revenues.

As the obedient daughter, I would attempt to pour information into the heads of unwilling and recalcitrant children and earn a proper and respectable living.

Till next week, take care.

MEET JOHN SEARANCKE

This week’s guest is also a member of the Facebook Group We Love Memoirs, so his name is familiar, although I’ve had to check several times to make sure I have spelled it correctly!  Over to John.

John

Hi everyone! Firstly, let me thank Lucinda for inviting me on to her platform. My name is John Searancke and my wife Sally and I live partly in the Canary Islands and partly at a new home that we have just bought in one of the Five Villages, near to Chichester, West Sussex. We moved in during August this year and spent the first couple of months living in overly close proximity to a mound of packing cases. Writing has been temporarily on hold!

I started out in life in the Leicestershire market town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. I was sent off to Prep School at Seaford in Sussex, and then on to Rugby School. After a number of short-term jobs, I settled into the running of a small loss-making country hotel that my parents had somewhat foolishly purchased. My parents’ marriage fell apart and I was left to pick up the pieces. I built the hotel up to become a well-known business over a 35 year career.  A second marriage then took me to Lancashire and then, in retirement, to the Canary Islands, where we live in the lee of Mount Teide, the famous volcano that we can see from our terrace.

El Teide

Lack of gainful employment (other than as restaurant reviewer for a Canary Islands newspaper) as I approached my 70th year impelled me to think about writing a book. Most people reckon that they have a book in them, don’t they? But how many take the plunge and actually do it? I cast around for ideas and came up with the storyline of making the move, lock, stock, and barrel, from the north of England to the balmy climes of the Canary Islands.

Car of the Month1

What could be more (we thought!) exciting than to drive our 27 year old red Mercedes all the way from England to our new home in the sun? How many times would a 27 year old car break down, and us without a word of Spanish? Would the car even make it?

I soon filled up a manuscript of strange goings-on and many tales of doggy derring-do as our Staffie, Freddie, an RSPCA rescue dog, settled in amongst new friends. Sadly, some years later as I write this, Freddie is no longer with us, but he lives on forever in our hearts and I remember him as my inspiration to get into print.

Dog Days Front Cover jpg

Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands” was the result of my efforts. The title is a bit of a play on words, Dog Days relating to old sailing ships becoming becalmed and the latter part being the old name for the island archipelago that was to become home.

My wife came up with the title of my second book, “Prunes for Breakfast”, which is most apposite. I still had the writing bug and, reading through a cache of family letters left to me, detailing family life through WW2, I thought that I could pay belated tribute to my father who had played his part to the full during those heady years from 1939 to 1945, including his landing in Normandy and his later incarceration in a German POW camp.

Prunes Front Cover jpg

My father and I had not got on as I grew up, so it was a cathartic experience to be able to tell his story.

A huge amount of research went into the production of that book, and it has latterly been issued in audio-book format. I achieved a dream when it got an Amazon #1 in its category, albeit probably only for a millisecond!

And so, to my third book…

A number of people who read “Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands” mentioned to me that I should write about my earlier life. I have difficulty grasping the fact that this could be particularly interesting to anyone. I realized that I had been self- employed for most of my life, that it was doubtful that anyone would actually have wanted to employ me and that, yes, perhaps, there were some stories to be told – some of them a little bit risqué. So, I am well over half way through this third book, at just over 50,000 words and it should be available in the spring of next year.

Here is the synopsis, the first time seen in print:

John Searancke came to the role of hotelier almost accidentally. After his parents’ marriage fell apart, he was dragooned in, at the age of 22, to pick up the pieces of their new venture, a barely trading country house hotel that had, frankly, seen better days. Not only was it posting an annual loss, but the fabric of the building was crumbling and there was no money left to make improvements.

There were to be battles royal with neighbours not wanting their status quo to be altered, the fire authority who sought to impose draconian new safety measures, and staff who were there just for their pay packets.

Over the years, and with the steepest of learning curves, the grand old building was renovated and transformed to meet the requirements of the modern discerning traveller. Accolades for the hotel and its restaurant were won; together they became a well-regarded destination for a number of celebrities – and those that deemed themselves to be celebrities, but were not. Stories abound featuring idiosyncratic guests, overbearing public bodies, fractured family life and animals of all shapes and sizes. The local fire station next door was demolished one foggy night, guests were frightened by flying dogs and snakes in the long grass, and there were, as befits a country house, strange goings on in the night. Guests checked in who really should not have been seen together, whilst others erroneously believed that there exists an incontrovertible law that the customer is always right.

A rescue mission originally thought of as a year or two turned into a 35 year lifetime love affair with a beautiful old building, turning a young man into a tired and grey haired hotelier; continuous improvements being made on the one hand as funds allowed, but with the stress of business dooming relationships along the way.

Then will come the part that I don’t like, because I am no good at it – the marketing and publicity. On that journey I hope, once again, to have the expertise of Sarah Jane Butfield of Rukia Publishing, to steer me along the way.

Please check my website for progress after Christmas, and leave messages for me…and in the meantime, a huge “thank you” from me to everyone who has read my books. I hope that you may like my next one even more!

John’s books sound like a fun read, and like most of us, he has dozens of addresses! You can find out lots more about him at any of these places. And thank you John for being my guest.

Website: www.johnsearancke.com
Amazon.co.uk Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands http://tinyurl.com/p6s7eku

 Amazon.co.uk Prunes for Breakfast http://tinyurl.com/ntpae84

Website: www.johnsearancke.com

Meet the Author at Rukia Publishing: http://www.rukiapublishing.com/meet-the-author-john-searancke.html
John Searancke Pinterest profile page: https://www.pinterest.com/johnsearancke/author-john-searancke/
Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/sjbutfield/featured-book-dog-days-in-the-fortunate-islands/
Prunes for Breakfast Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/sjbutfield/featured-book-prunes-for-breakfast-by-john-searanc/
John Searancke Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/john.searancke.1
Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dog-Days-in-The-Fortunate-Islands/867368390009475
Prunes for Breakfast Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PrunesForBreakfast
Twitter: https://twitter.com/johnsearancke
Troubador Publishing: http://www.troubador.co.uk/shop_booklist.asp?s=john%20searancke

Thank you John for sharing this with us and like you, i shall be going to sit in the sun while I take a look at your books.

 

 

 

 

I JUST CAN’T GET IT LARGER!

How about a Christmas present for me? It won’t cost you more than a moment and very little effort. I’m asking all you FABULOUS people out there for a re-blog of this post (flatter them p 148 of How to Win Friends and Influence People).

You see I have been trying to build up my email list like, well forever. Everyone I know has thousands and thousands and thousands of names and I’ve struggled to reach even a limited number – (you may sigh here).  Now I know the fake news going around that the Big A is about to go bust is nonsense and that we will only be able to sell our books all by ourselves, but I do see it’s a very good idea to have a healthy mail list a little larger than your friends and family – and I have a very small family. I’m fed up with sending dozens of copies of my newsletter to DH and myself over and over again.  He’s now threatening to unsubscribe!

I am sending out my Christmas newsletter on Saturday, December 23rd and my subscribers will get a free copy of:

51-ano4yifl

Amie African Adventure which has done really well and won lots of awards from individual readers and international awards and 173 reviews (unless some have gone AWOL while I type this!)

And that’s not all. Subscribers will be able to download Part 2 of The very Worst Riding School in the World – which is only available from my newsletter and will NEVER be on general sale.

WRS Kindle Cover book 2 (1)

Part 1 is available free on the Big A and wide and is also free so you can grab that short read if you have got this far.

https://www.books2read.com/u/bw8May

And that’s not all!!  (Amazing isn’t it?)

There are now 12 chapters of the Amie back stories and these build up month by month to download for free.

Amie Back Story v2.1

Sam, Amie’s spoilt brat of a sister, is taking her first overseas holiday with boyfriend Gerri and they are getting into all sorts of trouble in Spain – he’s landed in jail and she’s spent several hours in the lift between floors. The other character who features is Ben, who was Amie’s cameraman in book 1, she meets up with him in book 2 and he plays a huge part in book 5 which is still in progress.  DH has designed this lovely cover for the backstories.

Oh, and before I forget there is also a bit of rubbish blurb from me and if you would like me to feature your book, then let me know by this Friday morning (it takes me hours to sort out the techie stuff on MailChimp).  I’m not sure whose twisted mind designed it all but if you know who it is, advise them to steer clear.  So I think my newsletter is really good value and it only goes out once a month, twice at most. OK, I’ve finished groveling now and it only remains to wish you all a Wonderful Christmas with friends and family or a good book (preferably mine 🙂 )  and a Happy, Healthy and Brilliant 2018.  With love from Lucinda.