Friday, 3 October 2014

Fiona McVie interviews me...


 
Fiona McVie interviews authors on her blog http://authorsinterviews.wordpress.com, and today she kindly interviewed me.
I have copied  most of  the interview below (you know my name!), but go to her blog for lots more interviews.
Where are you from: I’m originally from Norway, but put down roots in a small village near Abergavenny in South Wales, some 42 years ago, at the tender age of eighteen.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc : I first came to this country to work as an au pair for a year, to beat my home-sickness problem. I went to Art College away from home two years running, and lasted a very short time both times, before returning home. The third summer I decided that I had to do something about it, and left for London. It worked.

I’m married, with six daughters and 11 grandchildren – with number 12 due soon. Family life is always very busy, but I took time to go to college as a mature student in the 90s – ’94-’99, and finally got my art education: HND in Surface Pattern and Textile Design, BA(hons) in Art &Aesthetics – the course where my love of philosophy and research was awakened – and a PgDip in Art & Design Education. A severe flare-up of RA (I’ve had Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was 29) stopped me short of the MA, as it had affected my one eye badly. A little later I did return to college, studying a few modules of a Divinity course (all grist to the mill for a writer).
Besides writing, I publish anthologies, raising money for charities, run craft fairs and a craft group, run a craft business, hand-stitching fun items for the home and special commissions, sell children’s books... I’m nothing if not busy!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

Marit: My first proper novel, The Loss, was published earlier this month, and… in December Graham Sclater, of Tabitha Music and Tabitha Books, is going to review The Loss on his show.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

Marit: I started writing as soon as I started learning to read, but proper stories grew out of essay writing in school. My stories were invariably read out, making me cringe, but I knew I had to keep writing.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Marit: It wasn’t until I was attending college in the late 90s. Writing was always part of what I did, but once I started having articles published, I felt that I was entitled to call myself a writer – although I felt like an impostor, sometimes. After all, I hadn’t had a full length book published.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
 
Marit: My first published book, Diary of a Would-Be-Protagonist (Oct. 2013), was the result of a lost manuscript (recently found, all in hard copy), and draws on my interests – philosophy, science, the human condition, creation, spirituality etc., while being completely tongue-in-cheek – and never giving any advice or answers, just options. It was great fun writing, and I will be writing a follow-up. Eventually.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?


Marit: I don’t think I do, as my novels, both published and works in progress, are all very different. For instance, The Loss, is about just that – and abduction, emotions, memories, false and true, a maternity home in the 60s, a children’s home… while a work in progress is set in Oslo, Norway, following a family as the mother and grandmother succumbs to dementia.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

Marit: Diary of a Would-Be-Protagonist (WBP) came from the fact that the main character is just fighting for his right to be written, and read. The working title of The Loss was The Box, as it all started with a little wooden box, a photo prompt on the Writers Abroad website.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Marit: No, just a portrayal of various aspects of life, within a storyline. I’m really a story teller. I remember being a bit irritated in college when parts of books were analysed, to find out the hidden meaning – or what the author really meant.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?

Marit: WBP is a good mix of fact and fiction and pseudo-philosophy, pseudo-science and so on, while events in The Loss, although fictional, could well have happened.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Marit: I suppose a little of our lives creep into our work, even if fictionalized, but on the whole, no, as far as the two books here are concerned. Some works in progress do draw on events within my own, and my family’s life, although just as primers for the stories themselves. There’s a dragon in my children’s novel – WIP – but although the story draws heavily on my childhood, I definitely didn’t know any dragons.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?

Marit: I was always a bookworm, and I although I have always been surrounded by books, I don’t think they influenced my actual life.

Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Marit: That would have to be Myra King, my Australian friend, and an excellent writer.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

Marit: Do you mean books? I’ve always got more than one on the go. At the moment some of these are: A Killing in the Family by David W Robinson, the 12th in the Stac series, Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail by Trevor Belshaw – an absolute hoot! – re-reading Trouble with Swords by Richard Hardie (the second in the series – and I have to prime myself properly, as we will be collaborating on a fun cook book at the end of the series) – and then there’s a whole stack waiting to be read.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Marit: Fairly new ones, like June Gundlack with her excellent YA novel Insectipids, and Richard Hardie with A Leap of Faith and Trouble with Swords.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

Marit: Now you’re asking. I’ll try to remember them all. Non-fiction there’s a cook book for people with food allergies and or intolerances, with a twist, and a book on living with RA – Rheumatically Challenged (the title might change). The children’s novel is titled Morgetuid and the Dragon, while there are two books on Amelia’s life. One manuscript is about her growing up in Oslo (born when it was still Kristiania) and the struggles within the family, the next one about her journey through her latter part of life, with the loss of her husband, and the onset of dementia, and secrets from her past being revealed as dementia takes hold. But the next one to be finished will be The Gatekeeper. The story is centred around the people living in a town house, converted into flats, and their lives, all somehow linking back to the same time and place during WW2. I had to leave my comfort zone and write a rape scene – as well as introducing spirits, a good one and a bad one. Writing this one is great fun.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Marit: Entity? When I first started writing in earnest, the writing group I belonged to, Writelink, was a big help – from the members within.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

Marit: I have moments when I think I could do this all the time, to the exclusion of everything else, but I’d be lying. I’m a creator – of written work, and hand-crafted work, a publisher on a micro-scale, a craft fair organiser – besides first and foremost being a mum  and nan.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Marit: No. I did several edits and a few part re-writes, but I wouldn’t change anything else. There comes a time when you have to step back from your work and go on to the next thing.

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Marit: I was always surrounded by books, but it feels like it was just there – in the genes, perhaps.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Marit: I’ll share the back blurb, plus a bit extra with you:

Holidaying in a small Welsh seaside village in the early 60s, a brother and sister enjoy exploring, until the last day of the holiday, when six year old Daniel disappears without a trace. It seems only Jennie, his five year old sister, knows what happened, but her memories are suppressed for decades – until, as a grandmother, a small pencil box triggers memories. But is what Jennie thinks she remembers what actually happened? Leaving her brother behind, when the tide was coming in, could only mean one thing... and all that was left, was one small red sandal...

      The story takes us to a maternity hospital in London, to a children’s home, to Jennie’s mother, suffering from dementia, unwittingly revealing more answers to long-held secrets, and finally to an adoption scandal. Secrets throw Jennie’s mind into turmoil, but her new-found friend, John, who inherited the blue beach house – a place of fear for Jennie – is a calming influence, as is her daughter Jan - desperate to find out what happened to her uncle. If Daniel didn’t drown, what happened to him? Could John be her brother? A tale of loss, suppressed memories, abduction and human emotions.


Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Marit: There is one thing in particular… I start writing a short story, and before long it’s developing into a novel – hence many works in progress.

Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Marit: I don’t have a favourite author, there are far too many of them! From the classic authors to contemporary authors to new-comers. They all bring different aspects in.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Marit: Alas, my only travel these days is the virtual kind.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

Marit: The cover of WBP is an image of the Eagle Nebula, which is manipulated a little, adding colours, with permission from Nasa. Trine Kristiansen in Norway (my niece), designed the cover for The Shambelurklers Return, and the cover for The Loss was colour manipulated photographs from my own files, but taken by my grandson, Owen.

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Marit: Accepting that it was finished.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Marit: Hm, that I will never be fully in charge of my characters. They take on their own lives and personalities.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Marit: Keep writing, and get another writer or two, or editor, to beta read your manuscripts, finding all those little errors that you have become blind to. Oh, and of course, read a lot.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Marit: In my books? I just want to tell a good story, that’s not too simple, and draws on the human condition in all its guises.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

Marit: I can’t remember the first children’s book I read, but it was probably Hans Christian Andersen Fairytales (Eventyr). The first grown-up book was Quo Vadis, a huge volume on the life of the early Christians. I was 9. I cried myself to sleep most nights after reading before going to sleep.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

Marit: It doesn’t take much to make me laugh – so it could be anything – and as for crying, I’m very emotional. My oldest grandson used to say ‘Oh no, Nan’s off again…’

Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why?

Marit: I (all of us!) have the privilege of being able to travel back and forth in time, entering other times, meeting persons of historical interest (for instance), through books, so I don’t feel the need to meet anyone in person. Except perhaps Sir Galahad, as I need to know a bit about him for a collaborative work, hopefully next year – where I will ‘play the part’ of Sir Galahad, the celebrity chef at OlĂ© Grill, and come up with recipes through the ages, for a fun cook book – working with Richard Hardie, the author of A Leap of Faith and The Trouble with Swords.

Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?

Marit: Funnily enough all my hobbies have become my work.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

Marit: I don’t watch TV much, but always fit in Casualty and Holby City, and I enjoy a good film – but avoid horror, grisly films, erotica or soppy romances.

Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music

Marit: All my favourites are out of bounds because of food allergies and intolerances, but what I wouldn’t give for my mother’s pea soup, followed by pancakes, or Norwegian waffles with cream and jam – or even fish and chips. Best not go there. As for colours, I don’t think I have a favourite. And the same with music. My tastes are eclectic. I like a good male opera singer, but not female ones particularly, classic music as well as pop and jazz, but perhaps Rhythm and Blues would come in tops, if challenged.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

Marit: I went to college with the intention of becoming a practising designer/artist, and tutor, but health issues stopped me in my tracks – although I’m still a designer/maker.

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

Marit: I’m not very good at keeping up blogs and websites, but there is www.maritmeredith.webs.com , in need of a lot of updating, but I really should get on with it. My Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marit-Meredith/626874777344206?ref=hl  is usually up to date. The writing blog linked to Twitter is www.thepagesandfriends.blogspot.com  My Twitter handle is ThePageseZine . I ran a monthly online magazine called The Pages for three years, hence The Pages name.


The Loss:


The Loss will be available on Amazon and other sites soon, too.

 

Diary of a Would-Be-Protagonist:


 

The Anthology published in aid of NAS (the helpline), The Shamberlurklers Return:


 

Monday, 8 September 2014

The Shambelurklers Return - the charity anthology

The Shambelurklers Return is on the Lulu book shelf, and the following is the press release I sent to my local paper (and a few other places).


Press Release for The Shambelurklers Return

Five years ago, a friend alerted Marit Meredith to the work done by NAS (the National Autistic Society) The Early Bird Plus program, which had provided invaluable help for her friend’s grandson - and the idea of publishing an anthology to raise money for this cause was born. With a network of writer friends throughout the world, submissions soon came in, from as far afield as India and Australia, and Shambelurkling and Other Stories was published through Lulu (print on demand) in 2009.

Last year, after receiving an update on the work NAS undertakes through the helpline, Marit again sent out a call for submissions, hoping to produce another children’s book in the series. Again writers from near and far came up trumps, and on September 1st, The Shambelurklers Return was published. In the first week, close on £100 was made in royalties, which will all go to the NAS Helpline.

If you’re wondering what or who the Shambelurklers are, the Shambelurklers was the name given to the monsters lurking in wardrobes, under beds and behind doors, by a writer friend, Rosa Johnson, when her children were small, and in the poem she wrote, the myth of the monsters melt away, only to make room for another, more fun one. The poem is in the first book, with the original version opening the second, current book.

The Shambelurklers Return is a children’s book of stories and poems, for the age range 6-12, published by Marit Meredith who lives in Clydach, under the name Midnight Scribblers Publishing. It is available from  http://www.lulu.com/shop/marit-meredith/the-shambelurklers-return/paperback/product-21785045.html  for £5.99 – and will soon be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Nook etc. as well.


The diagnosis of autism can be devastating to a family who desperately seek help and advice in coping with the challenges that face them.

The National Autistic Society’s Autism Helpline is the nation’s leading source of information and advice about autism.  Their advisers are on hand to help deal with each hurdle a person with autism and their loved ones face, from getting basic support with things like cooking and personal hygiene to support in finding employment. To many, they are a lifeline that provides the support when they need it. Last year the helpline received 82,000 calls. The majority were concerning diagnosis, benefits and behaviour. Unfortunately, the society does not have the capacity to answer all these calls and they know how frustrating this is when they’re often the main place people turn to for help.

Their aim for the future is to be able to answer every call, making sure they are able to provide the support required when it’s needed.

Some challenges encountered need more specialist advice, and because of this NAS has specialist advisers trained to help in key areas, such as education, welfare rights and autism in maturity.  This includes advice on what the individual is entitled to as well as guidance on how to complete some of the confusing forms and general information.

Marit and friends hope that the money raised through sales of the book will add to other fundraising efforts and help NAS achieve their aims, and keep running this invaluable service.

 

(There is a free support group on Abergavenny at The Acorn Centre, Deri View Primary School, Llwynu Lane, Abergavenny, NP7 6AR.

For further information , please call Nicole, Monmouthshire Parent Network on 01873 855038 / 07758 816013. - See more at:
http://www.monfis.org.uk/events/autism-support-group-abergavenny#sthash.NVVausMR.dpuf )

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Insectipids by June Gundlack


First, my apologies for the very long dry spell within this blog. I have been busy on a lot of fronts, but that is no excuse. I should do better. I see and read all these great blog-posts, and still mine is left high and dry. I shall try to make good. And what better start than to highlight the brilliant novel, Insectipids, by June Gundlack – and published by Crooked Cat? Insectipids is an intergalactic adventure, for young and young adult readers, but it’s a great read for those young at heart, too. I can’t remember cool adventures like this when I was a kid way back when. Nancy Drew has nothing on James Allen. Oh dear, that makes me sound ancient (not far off the truth). I’m catching up!

     I also had the privilege of reading the manuscript prior to it being submitted to the publisher, and I could see straight away that James Allen is destined for stardom (in more ways than one).

To whet your appetite, a few words from June herself:

‘It’s only a fly…

Often ridiculed for being different was normal for young James Allen.

 He was used to it – until he found himself on the receiving end of a happy-slapping incident. This turned out to be the spur he needed to change his life and, in doing so, for him to make a difference to the rest of the world.

 Inspired by his secret childhood friend, Zoga, his decision takes him on adventures far and wide, introducing him to challenges most adults would cringe at or shy away from.

 A short while before his 16th birthday, James develops an increase in physical and mental powers. Energised by his drive and ability to think and act faster than most, he saves the world from the nemesis known as INSECTIPIDS.

“It’s only a fly.” Those four simple words will forever be a reminder that ‘only’ could mean far worse…’

      Of course I could tell you more, but that would be to spoil your enjoyment. Suffice to say, parts of it should definitely be read on an empty stomach (if you’re an adult reading – the kids will just revel in it!). Curious?

Find it on Amazon:



Also from Crooked Cat:


ePub, mobi, pdf  £1.99


June has a website at http://junegundlack.com/   

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Trevor Belshaw on writing 'Tracy's Hotmail'

A big welcome to Trevor Belshaw, a long-time friend and contributor to The Pages, and a published writer who is going places.
Trevor, I have had the privilege of reading a lot of your writing, and it covers a wide aspect. I’m a big fan of your children’s stories, and have often marvelled at the way you write with such an authentic child’s voice, particularly when I read Peggy Larkin’s War and the Magic Molly stories.  You write short stories, too, and poems, many of which have found their way into The Pages.
Lately Crooked Cat Publishing has published Tracy’s Hotmail, a hilarious read, where again you write with such a convincing voice, anyone would think Trevor was a pseudonym for the real Tracy.
Could you tell us a little more about what inspired you, and the journey from that first idea to publication?
Over to you, Trevor.

Hi Marit. Thanks for the invitation and the lovely introduction.
Tracy’s Hot Mail started life as a nervous post to a writer's website, Writelink, in 2009. I was new to the craft back then and I was looking for feedback and guidance from the more seasoned authors on the website. The response to that first Tracy email was so good that I rushed out two more episodes which got similar feedback.
Flushed with this success I purchased a domain to spread the word about Tracy and in April 2009 www.tracyshotmail.com  website was born.
Over the next few months I posted new emails to the domain for Tracy's ever growing fan base. The site was eventually password protected so that long term supporters could read and comment on her latest adventures. After a year or so I found a natural break in the narrative and began work on the sequel, Tracy's Celebrity Hot Mail, which is a still a work in progress. I hope to finish it sometime this year. 
In 2010 Tracy was given her own Facebook page to keep her fans updated on her progress and it appeared that it was only a matter of time before she hit the bookshelves. https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Tracys-Hot-Mail/138823129474884
Tracy almost ‘made it' on three separate occasions between 2010 and 2011 but something always managed to get in the way and the book remained unpublished. After the third aborted publication attempt I decided to give up on the project but some of Tracy's fans and a few of my close writer friends kept nagging  away at me to keep trying and in the end we all got the result we wanted when Crooked Cat Publishing offered to publish Tracy as an ebook.
In late 2011 Crooked Cat gave Tracy a facelift with a brand new cover, they set up a Tracy page on their own website. http://bit.ly/w1SEWS   and on January 20th Tracy was finally published.
But who is Tracy?
Tracy is every girl on the bus, every girl who has a boss, every girl who works in an office. She's the girl on the end of every lousy chat-up line. She’s the girl that older men fancy, the girl that has opinions on everything and everyone; even if those opinions are based solely on second or third hand information.
As I mentioned earlier I found Tracy on a bus one morning when my car was in for repair after a minor bump. I didn’t have a courtesy car so had to use public transport to get to work. On the Monday morning I sat behind two late-teen/early twenty-something girls who didn't waste time taking a breath for the entire bus ride.
They gossiped about bosses, boyfriends, rivals and workmates. They chatted about nightlife, drunkenness, mishaps and family. By the time they got off the bus I felt I knew their colleagues and close relatives intimately. Coming home I had the same experience, via two different girls.
The following day I was lucky enough to get the seat behind the same girls I had listened to the day before. This time the conversation was more of a hissed whisper, but it was still loud enough for me to be able to hear. Before we’d gone 200 yards I heard the first gasp of, ‘she didn’t?’ quickly followed by, ‘how could she? and in public too.’
I pricked up my ears and set my brain to auto record.
By midweek Tracy was born. I had taken the almost childlike innocence of one girl, the pure, vitriolic spite of another and the all-knowing worldliness of a third. I added the fashion tastes of one particular girl and the proneness to blonde moments from… well, a blonde actually. Seven girls contributed to the finished article in some way or other.  I would like to thank them all personally as they gave me the tools to build the ultimate gossip machine that is Tracy.
The people they spoke about and the situations they discussed didn’t make it into Tracy's world. The majority of it was far too mundane. I did amalgamate two of the most talked about managers to make Mr Blunt. It seems all offices have a character like him. Olivia came from my own head but Tracy's continual description of her as, 'the tart,' came straight from the back of the bus. It was a term used more regularly than any other.
Tracy’s Hot Mail can be bought for the kindle platform http://amzn.to/z7ctWe  and for all other e-readers via the Smashwords website. http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/123781
Tracy’s Hot Mail is also available from Barnes & Noble and ITunes.

Thank you, Trevor, for showing us how people-watching – and listening – can be put to excellent use as a research tool. It sounds as though writing Tracy’s Hotmail was fun from beginning to end, and you have certainly provided the reader with a lot of laughs. Tracy has taken on a true identity, and I’m looking forward to visiting Tracy’s world again.
Tracy’s Hotmail is an excellent read, and if you haven’t got a Kindle, you can download Kindle for PC, to read e-books on your computer/laptop. 

Saturday, 21 January 2012

On Writing for Children, by Rebecca Emin


With the official launch of Rebecca’s excellent book New Beginnings just two days away, Rebecca has kindly agreed to be our guest blogger today, sharing her journey to becoming a published children’s author.
Over to you, Rebecca.
Writing For Children

 The fact that my debut novel is for children came as a surprise to me. I had been planning to write a story for adults, but when I opened up the document for the first time, the idea for New Beginnings came to me so I started writing it out.

It was only when my beta readers read the manuscript and said they enjoyed it, and one of them made a comment about she had no idea how I could write for that age group as she wouldn’t have thought to put in various details, that I realised I had made the right decision. I find it really easy to get my head back to how I felt when I was that age, and also keep in my head the things my teenage step daughter and my nine year old daughter have spoken to me about, which really helps.

The thing that I love most about writing for children the most is the responses from the readers. The children who have read my book have been so positive and the fact that they keep asking when the next book will be out is so encouraging. I have already heard of a couple of schools where the book has been read to children and of one school girl who showcased New Beginnings in a project she was asked to make about any book she loved. 

I have already finished a second novel for the same age group, and I am planning to write a short story collection this year. I’ve asked some of my younger readers what they think of short stories and the responses were varied and interesting but overall they seemed to like the idea.

I have written a couple of very short children’s stories for Shambelurkling and Other Stories, and I when I took it with me on my first school visit, and said I was going to read one of the stories out, one of the girls said “yes” really loudly. It was an unplanned, honest reaction but she had a huge impact on me. It made me think perhaps I am on the right track.

I hope to write more novels for children in future, and I hope that everyone enjoys New Beginnings.

Thank you for inviting me here to talk about writing for children.


You'll find links to purchase New Beginnings  on Rebecca's blog, as well as on this blog, in the side bar.

Thank you very much for being our guest blogger today, Rebecca, and allowing us an insight into your writing life, especially when it comes to children's books. We're looking forward to the next one!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Knowing Look by Rebecca Emin

I’m trying to remember when I first got to know Rebecca Emin, and I think it was when she submitted a short story to our anthology Shambelurkling and Other Stories. Since then Rebecca has gone from strength to strength and has had her work published in several places. Her debut novel New Beginnings will be officially launched on January 23rd, although I believe that it is already enjoying some considerable success! We’ll join her in spreading the word. To be part of the blogsplash, go to
     This, however, is about Rebecca’s second book, her collection of short stories (four of them previously published elsewhere), entitled A Knowing Look and Other Stories. Here we have a varied collection, from the poignant first story A Knowing Look - a beautiful, but heart wrenching story set in Africa - through a little sci-fi in A Step Too Far, then touching on love and loss, separation and a new beginning in As Fast as You Can.  Not giving too much away, further stories touch on a little lightly spiced revenge(could be deadly!), a birds’ eye view of the Human, and his artificial dwellings encroaching on their natural habitat, as well as stories touching on the  human condition in all its hues, including my favourite On the Corner of Clerk Street.
An excellent collection of short stories and flash fiction, varied in content and eloquently written – and leaving the reader wanting more.
A Knowing Look is available from Smashwords:   http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/108218
The wonderful cover is by Paul Townend, who also designed the cover for Shambelurkling and Other Stories.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Pages on Hold and Annual Competition Cancelled

I have decided to take the step to put The Pages on hold, as my computer keeps crashing, and I can't safeguard work by contributors at the moment. I hope to get a new system, or the old repaired, some time in the new year.
The decision to cancel the annual competition has two reasons: the same as above, and the fact that with 10 days to go to the original dead-line, we haven't had a single entry. Sorry folks! Could I suggest that you enter more established competitons, such as Flash 500 ( www.flash500.com) instead?