Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Writing again... ChipLit Festival 2017

Looked at the events for the ChipLit Festival, so much going on I feel overwhelmed.  I have written and been published in various media since the age of 14. 

Credits include

Jackie Teen Magazine,Woman, Ariel, Guardian, Independent, BBC History magazine, BBC Cornish Website, Orders of the Daye (Sealed Knot In House magazine). My articles on living with extreme allergies have been used in NHS publications, and one as a teaching medium for the NHS.

Novels/Novellas  My first a Cornish love story called Jago.

When I was seriously ill a couple of years ago now and bedridden, I thought I was going to die. So I wrote The Women of the English Civil War. I had collected and researched for years on my adventures with the Sealed Knot. Now was the time to get written and published.
The sales ranking as shown took me into the best sellers for History. Even outselling Alison Plowden at one point.
Then along came Hilary Long, who took over my life in a totally new direction, with her adventures and her new life in the little Cotswold village of Overdown (based loosely on Tetbury).
Ending for the moment in a bloodbath that affects Hilary herself.  But the call of Overdown is strong, and the residents want me to go back and write more about them. This time it will be a love story with a few twists and turns and perhaps a happy ending. Who knows where these people will lead me?

At the moment I'm working on 1955 a book requested by an agent. Perhaps this will be THE ONE - who knows?  My husband is an artist by profession, making the people for what he calls morally bankrupt computer games. He generated the face of Evie for me. It's very rare that what you imagine is what you get.  But this is Evie Withers as I live and breathe.
To see how he did it - http://andyevans-art.blogspot.co.uk/

As for ChipLit, I'll go. I'll be totally jealous that people I've never heard of have their first novel, in hardback and a best seller. (Usually related to a famous parent!) I guess I'll just keep plugging away, semi anonymous,( my father was a design engineer and my mother was a tailoress). My grandfather, however, on my father's side was a bookbinder by trade and had a shop in Shoreditch.

I had more fame when I was a Rostrum Camerawoman for the BBC. I got tons of credits and pay for my work, even a BAFTA!  Can't look back - got to look forward - hopefully someone will read my Hilary Longs and think: Wow!  this would make a brilliant mini series, it's darker than Agatha Raisin, spookier than Father Brown and has some incredibly funny moments.

Work calls....speak soon.

Monday, 13 February 2017

What a difference a day makes

We went up to Harrogate to visit my brother in law, he'd been ill for a while. We went up to his house sitting amongst the sheep strewn fields of Ripley, the lights were on, cosy and warm when we arrived. It's full of life's adventures to Australia, Tenerife, Spain. Photographs of holidays and grandchildren all over the walls next to antique porcelain and tribal figures in black wood with scary hair.

Then you hear it, the gentle click and sigh of the machine that is helping him breathe. A feint smell of medicine in the air. The wheelchair by the door, opened by the haunted faces of his wife and son who have spent the night awake with him as he cried out for help. Sometimes lucid, sometimes not.Sometimes funny, sometimes demanding.

My husband sat on the floor holding his brothers hand, not knowing what to say. I felt I didn't belong. An outsider, a Southerner in a close Northern family, so I didn't intrude on the few moments left to them. I was incredibly sad, I liked my brother in law, he was generous, kind and funny. He helped others even when he was very ill himself. He didn't let on as he would have said. He had even left his body to Leeds Hospital University. Generous to the last.

We left to meet our friends for lunch and get my brother in law a Cafe Nero Cappucino on the way back. He said he really fancied it, even gave orders that he didn't want Starbucks!

By the time we got back the family were frantically calling the NHS Pallative care nurse for help. She said she couldn't come she stopped work at 3.00. It was 2 o'clock. My brother in law was struggling to breathe, the family gave him some medicine and he calmed down enough to drink a couple of sips of his coffee and drink iced water. They phoned the NHS again and got the call centre who said they'd send someone. 

I waited watching for any car coming up the hill, that might have a nurse in it. "She's here."
I called opening the door. My sister in law raced past me.
"You're too late, he's gone." She shouted angrily, "He died crying for help."

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Agatha Christie

After visiting Agatha's Devon house last year and wandering through the rooms and artifacts, I decided to buy her autobiography and a couple of her books. Proudly stamped by the National Trust "bought at Greenaway."

I was surprised at her life, she was very priviledged but didn't really take it on.  She was eccentric, preferred to drink cream instead of tea. Knowledgeable about life in a way you would not expect from a lady of her age.

But then we all get old. She said she wished she'd made Poirot younger as she was still writing mysteries for him when he got to be 110!!   She had a good sense of humour, was adventurous, and was crossed in love.  

When her first husband left her he came into her office in a heat and pacing about the room said "This just won't do Agatha, I have to have a divorce." Then thundered out to his girlfriend, his secretary whom Agatha had befriended, waiting in the car.  She sat at her desk dumbstruck. "I was writing cheques to pay my bills," she wrote, "and I couldn't remember my name to sign it on the cheque."

This is her bedroom, the camp bed belongs to her second husband Max Mallowan. He was an archeologist, and got so used to sleeping in this camp bed, sometimes he would sleep in it when he was at home. He was 15 years younger than Agatha, something I have in common with her, my husband and my age difference is exactly the same.

I have some recordings of her, in old age, the voice speaking is cultured, wobbly, of it's time.
She couldn't cook but loved food, but was also offended when Max volunteered her to sit on cases to get them closed at the end of an expedition!

The more I read and learn about her work, the more surprised I am about how modern she was. She loved clothes, and her wardrobe is still intact.

She loved silk, bright colours, furs, she started her adult life as an Edwardian teenager and  by the time she died in 1976 she seen fashions change from uptight corsets through to the looser dresses of the Roaring Twenties, the elegant 30s, Wartime austerity in the 40s right up to the Swinging Sixties and mini skirts.

While I was writing the other day I remembered one of her tips for writing a good book.  Not so many red herrings that the reader gets confused.  She was a member of a Crime Writers Society, and strict rules were laid down on the construction of murder mystery novels. Agatha broke every one of them and was a best seller.

I hope she has an etherial smile at my efforts when it comes out in a couple of months.
Fingers crossed.


Thursday, 2 February 2017

Well Okay then.....

Writing new novel titled 1955. 

Getting lost in the plot as the characters go off in their own directions and I'm running trying to catch up.  They take me down blind alleys and try and trap me into corners.

Entered a couple of writing competitions to try and fund a very expensive "meet the Agent" seminar in London.

Ages ago, Susan Jeffers said in her book "Feel the Fear and do it Anyway":-

I'm paraphrasing here.

There are times when you feel that you are doing it all wrong, and you feel that the risks you are taking are not going to work, and the fear kicks in.  That's  when you KNOW you are absolutely doing the right thing, so "Feel the Fear and do it Anyway".

Her book kept me going through many difficult days. I had the priviledge of seeing her speak in person at a Women's Conference, held by the BBC at Broadcasting House, many years ago.  She has passed on now, but her sister continues her legacy.

I'd like to leave some sort of legacy.  I don't know what.

Hopefully my characters will lead this book into being the most successful of all.  I write fiction when I really want to write real history. Not historical fiction - that however well written - makes me cringe.

But writing follows fads and the 40s and 50s nostalgia are the way to go apparently.

Boris Johnson's dad Stanley, proudly announced he's going to win the Man Booker Prize this year for a fiction book on Brexit as it's going to be that good!

As for me, I shall keep plugging away, a tiny light in the darkness, waiting for the flame to glow brighter.