My guest today has a fascinating story, I must thank her for contributing.
Looking back a long time…I probably wanted to emulate my Dad, who was a dab hand at Calligraphy and letter writing. I enjoyed writing in pristine exercise books, and was soon in love with words. The passion has never faded.
When World War Two broke out, I was evacuated, to Wales, along with my two brothers, and to placate the loneliness felt on being parted from my parents, joined the local library and read everything I could get my hands and eyes on. Each night – by candlelight – I consumed frightening stories by The Brothers Grimm and had nightmares…Hans Christian Anderson stories were usually kinder, and I worked my way through a whole raft of fairytales and several books written for adults, plus many of the classics, including Dickens, as the years rolled on. “Jane Eyre” remained a favourite. I attended seven schools during the war period and had an abysmal education, so my mother sent me to Pitman’s College to smooth out the rough edges and learn shorthand and typing, which opened up another world to me when I left school at fifteen. (I took my A level Literature exam as an adult amid several, more youthful stares…)
I worked for a Secretarial Agency for a while and, later on, secured my favourite post as secretary to the two editors of the publishing company Kaye & Ward Ltd., in the city of London. Sometimes meeting authors and illustrators and making ‘mock-ups’ of one or two children’s books was a delight and I was in my element.
By then, married with three sons, and in business with my husband, my life wandered down different pathways for a while, but I still wrote short poems and a few articles which – eventually – when they saw the light…were published in several newspapers and magazines. Another of my interests was cooking and meeting people, so, as we often entertained, we decided to buy a “ Tea Rooms,” a desire, it seemed, shared by half the population! They were just too expensive, so we plumped for running an attractive Edwardian hotel instead (see https://joylennick.wordpress.com/ ) in Bournemouth. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience, hard work though it was, but times and fancies were a-changing and people were going abroad more. Nevertheless, we were quite successful, although needed a cash injection to improve the ageing hotel… and eventually decided to change course, which we did. What happened next still amazes me to reflect on…
Having moved back to Essex and bought a house, a letter was following, offering ME?! the chance of writing a book on hotel life. Wow. An editor at Kogan Page Ltd of London happened…to ask one of my old bosses did she know anyone suitable for the task. So I did, it sold so well there was a second imprint and they asked me to update a few of their books, which I was happy to do. They further asked me to write a book on Jobs in Baking and Confectionery, and I really enjoyed the research for it.
‘Life,’ took a dip for a while, during which period I didn’t write much, until the sun came out again and I started a poetry club called Odes for Joy. After that, it was Upwards and Onwards.
I then joined a local writing circle and met a charming, knowledgeable teacher, who was most helpful.
Did you see who lit the match
which set the sky on fire?
Surely one who was intent
on poets to inspire.
Or had Turner’s mistress painted
a scene to inspire wonder –
a scene to tug at heart and soul
and wrench belief asunder?
Although, I was reading prodigiously and writing many short stories during that period. I realise now I wasn’t as committed as I should have been (I tend to go with life’s flow and am not very ambitious.) I suppose that figures, as I was more introverted than the opposite. Confidence doesn’t always rush to help, does it?!
Fast forward to the year 2,000, and we moved to Spain. The Culture department of the Town Hall ran the first Torrevieja International Short Story Competition five years later, I entered and won first prize. I have to use a cliché here, as I really was over the moon! I was a judge for the following two years and joined the Torrevieja Writing Circle, which was great fun. I then wrote several articles for the only English magazine in the area, and was introduced to an “adventuring sailor” called Andrew Halsey. He asked me to write an account of his rowing ventures at sea and had already conquered the might of the Atlantic! He then rowed off across the Pacific, leaving three, salt-stained Log books with me for deciphering and deleting generous expletives…I felt pity for him as he was epileptic (harnessed in when rowing) and he nearly died during two attempts to cross the Pacific. Doubtless a brave and formidable man, but it cost me dear to publish his book “Hurricane Halsey” – took two years and quite a few euros. . A costly lesson in trust, but I put it down to “life experience.”
I next wrote my memoir of evacuation in the war years (which went to No. 1 on Kindle in the social history and memoir category), followed by a novel based on the true 2005 terrorist bombing of a London train and the fate of the two fictional protagonists. On its heels came a collection of short stories, written with writer friend Jean Wilson (nicknamed “The Angel of Aldgate” due to her wonderful work in the East End of London as a nurse after the war). A local friend then gave me his grandfather’s memoir to upgrade: “From the Prairies to Passchendaele” (an incredible man), and I had several more short stories and poems included in anthologies. After editing and typing a memoir written by my husband, we worked together on a modest, humorous book called “The Moon is Wearing a Tutu” (short poems and jokes).
And I am at present working on another book called “The Highs and Lows of the Dombrowski Family.” Asked to write several lines from the seventh page of the book, they are as follows…
‘Then the thoughts took on a different form. Had he – his teenaged self – really been so sharp with his loving, warm, over-needy Mama; disenchanted with the sometimes cloying atmosphere of the home he really loved? He shrugs, briefly reliving the testosterone-absorbed years. His Papa came into focus: bearded, prematurely white-haired, sharp-featured (‘his nose could pierce a can’ from his Mama) and serious. How he had insisted on
I enjoy interacting with other writers, and have interviewed a few on my web-site. Writing a book can be a daunting prospect, but what else would I do with the words?
MY GENTLE WAR
WHERE ANGELS AND DEVILS TREAD (SHORT STORIES)
THE MOON IS WEARING A TUTU
( All available from Amazon, Kindle, Kobo and firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Chair at Writers Ink, Ink Spot:(www.writersinkspot.com/)
Columnist with the Costa Blanca Newspaper (Re Writers Ink)
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Have a great week,
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