Saturday, July 31, 2021
Friday, July 30, 2021
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
How long have you been writing?
I started writing my own stories almost as soon as I could read, but as I got older, life got in the way, and by the time I was working in my first job, the writing tailed off. It was really only when my children were in full time schooling that I decided to start again. It’s definitely easier to write fiction when you are older and have more life experience to draw on.
Do you write non-fiction as well as novels?
Soon after my first child was born, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. At the time, there were no treatments for the disease, but after I discovered the research that had been done on diet and MS, I changed my diet and improved my health dramatically. I then wrote a book about the benefits of nutritional therapy (The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book) and was lucky enough to find a publisher quite quickly. I have since written a lot of articles about nutrition and healthy eating.
What gave you the idea for the Eye Spy series?
One day the voice of Alex, my teen detective, just popped into my head, and I heard him describe his life with his Nan, a school dinner lady, and his eccentric inventor father. It was only later that I realised that he and his twin sister, Donna, were inspired by memories of a brother and sister I knew when I was a child. It wasn’t difficult to choose a setting for the series either – a small seaside town - as I live in a seaside town myself, so it was familiar territory to me.
What are your favourite hobbies?
I do a lot of cooking, but I am also passionate about family history. I am hoping to write a book about my mother’s ancestors, a lot of whom ran successful coaching inns. I’m also researching my husband’s family, who have a very different background in mining, socialism, and trade union activism.
What is it about writing that has given you the most enjoyment?
When I am writing, I can escape into an imaginary world, just as I did as a child when I read Enid Blyton, or the Narnia stories. Today’s children are under a lot more pressure than my generation were, trying to navigate their way through a much more complex and uncertain world, and if my books can provide them with some enjoyable escapism in difficult times, then I will have achieved my goal.
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Monday, July 26, 2021
In Sun, Sea, and Summer Vibes Nina’s best friend Isla is a singer who suffers trolling on social media. Make no mistake, trolling is a form of bullying and it surprises me not only that people would be so cruel as to inflict that kind of behaviour upon a fellow human being, but that some people seem to think others are immune to it. As if it doesn’t count when somebody is famous. I think that latter point is something we are all guilty of to some degree.
I have witnessed unpleasant comments on social media towards celebrities from people who would never speak in such a manner not only to people in real life, but to other ‘ordinary’ people on social media. But guess what? We’re all ordinary. All the same human beings no matter how many people know, or don’t know, who we are.
I’ve found in life that people are much more likely to speak up if they feel negatively about something than if they feel positively. Why is that? Surely the end point is that you only end up spreading bad vibes rather than good. I for one believe that, overall in life, you at least want to be fifty-fifty in the kind of energy you put out into the universe. Better still, get your positive to outweigh your negative.
Perhaps a good way to go about things is when you’re tempted to be negative on social media, ask yourself why. Is it going to achieve anything? For example, if there has been a bad experience from a service which is significant and speaking out would help others? Or are you only doing it for the sake of it? If you must pass a negative opinion then remain polite and remember you are still dealing with a human. If you’re criticising a service, often the person you’re speaking directly to isn’t responsible for the issue, merely a representative of said service so make sure you speak to them in the manner in which you would wish to be spoken to yourself.
When it comes to art and artists or creators, often people will want to express their dislike of something. But is that useful? Does it make you feel good? I personally only choose to comment if I have something positive to say because if I dislike something then it just means it’s not for me, not that it’s bad. And there’s certainly no need to personally insult a creator just because their work was not to your taste. Remember that such comments say a lot more about the commentor, than the person they’re directed at.
When navigating social media remember that everyone on there is a real person (except for the bots! LOL) and really think about what you’re commenting. Would you say the same nasty things if they were right in front of you with a hurt look in their eyes? Perhaps with their spouse or children standing with them, wondering why you’re being so horrible to their loved one? If you would still say the same things in that situation, then I think some real soul searching needs to be done on your part and I hope that one day, you can find happiness.
Sunday, July 25, 2021
Silver Dagger Book Tours presents... THE LOST PRINCESS OF STORY by Suzanne de Planque - GUEST POST + GIVEAWAY!
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I love literary tourism! I have made quite a few pilgrimages. I live in New York, which has plenty of literary high spots. High on the list are my many visits with my son to visit the real Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger at the New York Public Library. There is the Strand bookstore, immortalized (as if it wasn’t already) in the Dash and Lily books.
My son and I love to visit Eloise at the Plaza and check out her store downstairs. We have done the Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler tour at the Met, of course, and like the characters in my book, we have visited the Lower East Side to see sites from the Pushcart Wars. The Upper West side is famous for Judy Blume books, the upper East for Harriet the Spy. We spent countless hours at Books of Wonder and look forward to going there again as the city reopens. Went to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. My husband is in entertainment engineering, and a colleague on the show got us great tickets in the director’s box, and a little extra magic for my kid. My lips are totally sealed.
The Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park is a favorite, and features in my Professional Children series, which I hope to launch once The Chronicles of Story is well underway. Also, a visit to Alice’s Tea Cup carries the Alice in Wonderland theme along. There are so many literary spots in New York City that I could go on forever, but I want to talk about my best literary pilgrimage.
When my son was seven, we took a month-long trip to the UK (England, Scotland and Wales, plus a little trip to Paris on the side) that we called the Great Children’s Book Trip. We had planned another on his thirteenth birthday (which is this year, but we are holding off a little bit, what with the pandemic). So many great kid’s books come from the UK, and we made the rounds. The Harry Potter content alone could have taken a month, if we had the time.
We stayed at the Harry Potter hotel, rode the steam train in Scotland, took the Harry Potter tour in Edinburgh, went to the Elephant House, did the WB studio tour, and so many other Harry Potter sites. We went all over London. Peter Pan, Bastables, Fossils, Paddington, Sherlock Holmes, Mary Poppins—the list is endless. Out to Oxford, for Narnia and Alice in Wonderland and Lord of the Rings. Went to the Roald Dahl museum in Great Mittenden, where his writing hut is preserved. I found it very empowering to sit in a replica of his writing chair, which he rigged with a lap desk and customized to make more comfortable for his war injuries. It inspired me to do the same and having a writing chair that caters to my wonky spine has been a huge help.
We saw shows—Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Railway Children. Winnie the Pooh, the Twilight Barking, the Borrowers—you name it, we visited. We slept in a castle, and a grand five- star hotel we booked cheap online that upgraded us to a suite, and on a sleeper train, and wound it all up at Hay-on-Wye, the Book Town in Wales, which is the home of my heart. It was one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever done, and I hope someday to have another grand tour like it.
On my to do list of literary travel, the top must visit places for me right now are Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables, Emily), Chincoteague for Pony Penning (Misty of Chincoteague) and Concord MA, for Little Women and the Hall Family books. I recently discovered the Hall Family house shown in the book is real. I must visit it in person and see if it really has a summerhouse with a swing and a diamond in its window.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I think my mascot would have to be Tickey-Ding, the teacup size banzai dragon (the “z” is for “zazz”, according to him) who is a character in The Chronicles of Story. Tickey came into my mind years and years ago, a combination of a love for magical creatures and a bout of aphasia.
Sometimes I am briefly aphasic and lose words. On one of these occasions, I was asking my husband to pass me the kitchen timer but could not find the words I needed. I called it a Tickey Ding. (Because it goes tick… tick…tick… ding!) I had been toying with the idea of a little dragon, and Tickey Ding became his name. Shortly after that I imagined a dragon small enough to sleep in a sneaker, and Tickey has been with me ever since, through many years and partially written versions of this book.
Tickey-Ding is a spiritual descendent of Peter Pan’s crocodile. But Tickey ate a kitchen timer. Tickey is magical, curious, lovable, and funny. And always hungry. I hope that my book is all those things, too. (Well, not always hungry. Though it may make you hungry. When I was a kid, I loved books that talked about food and feasts, especially ones with recipes in the back so I could eat the same things as the characters. The Lost Princess of Story is chock-full of favorite food, and there is a mini cookbook at the back so you can make your own Story-style feast.)