Born in Dublin, raised in England, then after marriage, crofted in Scotland, traveled to Africa and spent time in Kenya, Libya, Botswana, and South Africa. Now retired and living in Spain. Although I trained to educate unwilling youngsters, I have also indulged in many other occupations, such as running the worst riding school in the world, announcing on radio, and dashing around the countryside behind a video camera.
Tell us about your latest book.
‘Truth, Lies and Propaganda’ follows my writing career from the beginning when I sort of ‘fell’ into it, through to the time I left Durban, South Africa and returned to London. Lots of hilarious anecdotes [well they made me laugh], it sheds light on what goes on behind the scenes in the media world. How do you audition a rat? The joys of filming in outside toilets. Why we couldn’t use a shot of the smiling children. What the choir were really singing at the water blessing ceremony. Just a few of the incidents I’ve included.
‘More Truth, Lies and Propaganda’ continues my life behind the camera as we traveled all over South Africa recording what ordinary people were doing – or rather supposed to be doing! The first book was getting longer and longer and longer, it made sense to split it into two.
What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?
That’s a tricky one to answer as two of my three books so far are memoirs and they are easy to write as I already know what happens! ‘Amie an African Adventure’ was more of a challenge. If you’ve been writing radio and television scripts, magazine articles and speeches for your local Mayor for over 30 years it takes a while to ‘snap into’ another genre. I believe writers are born, and it doesn’t matter what I write as long as I can write. It’s like a drug, and I’m hooked and it’s too late for me to do anything about that.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
I haven’t the faintest idea. Ideas just drop into my head, and I type them up [very badly, my eyes are still glued to the keyboard].
Do you ever base your characters on real people in your life?
Yes, as two of them are memoirs, but ‘Amie’ had a lot of experiences I had living in Africa.
What authors inspire your writing?
OK, let’s go for it! Would you believe Enid Blyton? I remember while reading under the bedclothes at the age of 6, thinking that’s what I want to do when I grow up. As I got older I enjoyed William Harrison Ainsworth, probably out of print now. He wrote historical novels 150 years ago and inspired my love of history as well. Besides that people like Peter James, David Baldacci and Wilbur Smith, oh and Alexander McCall Smith. I wrote radio scripts on the classics and I got to appreciate good, really great writers I can only worship from afar.
What kind of books do you like to read?
All kinds as long as they flow, and I don’t have to re-read passages to get the sense. Mysteries, thrillers, memoirs, travel books. I don’t like subjects such as vampires, way-out fantasy and erotica.
How have your real life experiences influenced your writing?
Oh yes, most definitely! One reason for writing ‘Walking over Eggshells’ was to document my life while I could still remember it. Then, when I am in my rocking chair in the old folks’ home I can read about myself and get to know who I am and what I have done.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Sleeping comes high on the list. I’m ashamed to admit that since I have started writing books, I think of little else than writing, reading and marketing. I am very driven, which is not necessarily a good thing.
I was first published in the 1980s, with two of the big 5, and the end result, apart from the large advance, was a royalty cheque for £4.10. So, this time I decided to self publish and it has been a steep learning curve. It’s not hard to get the books out there, Amazon and CreateSpace make it as easy as possible, but the marketing side is another matter entirely. I published ‘Walking over Eggshells’ 15 months ago and in the first year I think I sold 12 copies on line as no one told me you had to market your books!
How did you come up with the title of your book?
Ah, there is a story about this. I couldn’t decide what to call it so I had a competition to choose a title and I gave a free ebook for all entrants. No one actually won, because none of the suggestions seemed quite right to me and I was beginning to panic as the last 24 hour deadline for announcing the winner approached. Then – and this is quite true – I was out and had a text message on my phone from a friend who doesn’t twitter or FB and had only heard me talking about choosing a title, and they sent through 4 words – Truth, Lies and Propaganda. It all fell into place. Had to think carefully about awarding them the prize, but she had not followed the rules and she always buys my books anyway!
Is your book a stand alone or a series?
The first in a series of two, then the public really won’t want to read more about my life I am sure! Three memoirs altogether is quite enough.
What celebrity would you chose to play the main character(s) in the movie rendition of your book?
I haven’t the faintest idea, despite working in television. I could write the screen play, would be happy to direct, but I don’t follow the actors and actresses well enough to know who to choose.
Have you joined any writer’s groups?
If you mean Facebook groups, only about 56 of them.
Have you won any awards for your writing?
Languishing under the bed are 21 awards from the National Television and Video Association in South Africa for scripts, concepts and programme production. For my books? Zilch! But I’ve not entered them in anything, I’m not even sure if you can enter your own books into competitions. Not had time to look.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Getting peace and quiet. And the first editing.
Which of your characters is your favorite and why?
Me? No I really shouldn’t say that should I? But I prefer me to ‘Amie’ who took over the whole book after she lost her wimpiness and started to flex her muscles. But I shall get my revenge next year when I continue her story, I’ve yet to decide what I will put her through this time. If she thought it was tough stuck up a tree with a lion lying below, she’s not seen anything yet.
Who or what are your inspirations/influences?
The Dalai Lama.
What is your preferred writing environment?
Silence, warmth and sunshine.
How would you describe your writing style?
Do you have a careful plan when plotting your stories or do you just go with the flow?
None whatsoever. Go with the flow.
When did you know you truly wanted to give writing a shot?
When I was 6 years old.
Thanks for taking the time to fill out the questions!
Thank you for the invitation!