29th October 2021
So, here it is! My very first blog for my very own professional website – and I’m beyond thrilled with it! (The website, that is!) And I’m really happy that it has been professionally designed for me by my nephew, Matt, who is a web developer. It’s hard to credit that 30 years ago I watched him being born, and here he is now at the birth of my new career as a published author!
I do like to keep things in the family – as you will tell when you read ‘Monday is Washing Day’, my first novel in trilogy form. It’s an historical saga, mostly fictional, but very loosely based on my own family. I started out by wanting to do an autobiography – I’ve had plenty of thrills and spills in my life, and when I’m gone, I’d like there to be something left that will tell the world about little old me. But then I got to thinking about what made me the way I am; I guess the old ‘Nature v Nurture’ debate. Am I the product of my genes, or the way I was brought up?
These questions were raised whilst I was caring for my mother whilst she had Alzheimer’s and it was a very tense situation; but I felt a familial sense of duty towards her. I was the only one of her three children who had no real responsibilities apart from a full-time job as an administrator with a large truck hire company. At that time my sister lived 250 miles away in Scotland with her six children, and my brother lived in Blackburn but was busy with his managerial position; he was away from home every day from eight in the morning until 10 pm – and Mum needed more supervision than that if she was to come to no harm.
She and I had a chequered history, most of the time I’d gone along with her wishes, not making waves, but the few times in my life I’d gone against the current were humdingers! One of our arguments meant we didn’t see or speak to each other for over four years! She had often said I was just like her (which I hoped to God I wasn’t!) but I suppose we were cut from the same cloth whether I liked it or not. This became more apparent as the further the disease developed, she regressed to her earlier self, more and more often. Some days you had to ask her, “How old are you, Jean?’, and her answer would tell you whether or not she believed she was 12 or 21, or any other particular age, so that you knew which people to mention, who may, in reality have been dead for decades, like her parents, for example.
Which led me further along – what had made her the way she was? I asked, when she was in ‘child mode’ as I called it, to tell me about her upbringing and her relationship with her mother, my Nana. Most of the time she was happy to talk about it, and she was very useful at identifying numerous relations in the family photographs, as you’ll see if you take a look at my Gallery.
And so, the idea for a book grew. If I took it even further, back to my grandmother’s childhood, I had a good 100 years of family history to explore. I didn’t know very much about Nana’s life – she died in early 1969 when I was 10 years old, so I only remember her as an old lady – well, 68 seemed really old back then! I was lucky enough to have a relative who had done a great deal of a family tree on my maternal side. Included in her research was a memoir written by Nana’s older brother, Charles. This gave light to quite a bit of information from the turn of the last century up to the first World War and just beyond, a real treasure trove! Finding it irresistible, I adapted and fictionalised Uncle Charlie’s memoir into ‘Charlie’s Story’ which has become a complementary AND complimentary novella to my trilogy. (See details on the ‘Works’ page.)
However, most of the first book of MIWD, entitled ‘Grace’, the name I gave to Nana’s character, is absolutely fictional. I know very little of her life and had few facts to go on so I had to make most of it up. I was lucky with my Mum’s character, ‘Audrey’, the second book, as she’d told me a lot since my own childhood; the fictional aspects of ‘Audrey’ came quite easily too, with a little research, particularly into the workings of the WRAF! Finally, my own character, ‘Kathryn’ would be the easiest to write, because I have lived it already. There would be less need for fiction here, although I have changed all the names to protect the innocent – and the not-so-innocent!
At this point, the trilogy is still a ‘work in progress’. Book 2 is finished, waiting for a final edit. I am part way through Book 1, and have everything for book 3 in my head already, since it’s my whole life – so far anyway. But it will all be finished and published by April 2022, when at last, you’ll be able to read the whole thing. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing, and keep blogging and telling you about my writing journey – amongst other things! Please feel free to comment in the area provided!
Bye for now, LH xx