Archive for the ‘Latest’ Category

Spoiling Christmas

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Christmas ice cream. try it, you’ll love it.

Been ages eh?

I bet you thought this blog was over with but I’ve just been a tad overwhelmed with other stuff. Why does writing always feel like the last thing you should be doing.

Anyway, here’s a festive ramble…a bit of a rant to exorcise a Yuletide ghost or few…

 

‘You’ve spoiled my Christmas,’ he said.

I was distraught. How could I have been so cruel? Christmas was clearly a lot more important than I’d ever realised. I’d grown up a Jewish kid, I just didn’t know this stuff. Clearly spoiling Christmas was a big deal, I vowed never to do it again.

I asked what other festive rules I needed to learn. I’d accidentally spoiled that first should-have-been-special Christmas by being too tired to go to a party on Christmas Eve. Who knew they were compulsory?

Trucking in English Podcast: Mary Smith

Welcome to the next in TIE’s 2013 podcast series: Interviews With Interesting People.

Today’s interview is with Mary Smith, author of Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni.

reviewed this book last week and if you want to know more about Mary and her writing you can check out her website. You can also buy the book of course, by clicking the link in the right sidebar.

We had an interesting chat, ranging from the usefulness of babies to the future of mankind, here it is..

As usual, I asked Mary if she had any suggestions for music to top and tail our chat and she asked me to add something by Dawood Sarkhosh, a poet and musician of the Hazara ethnic minority. She chose him particularly because, as she tells us in the interview, the Taliban are still committed to wiping out the Hazara people completely.

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni by Mary Smith

Mary Smith

Mary Smith

People sometimes write and tell me, ‘Ohh you’re brave, I couldn’t do that.’ Which always makes me grin, because bravery doesn’t come into it really. It began when I upped and offed to Canada with a 9-year-old in tow. Friends behaved  for all the world as though this was as worrisome as sailing steerage across the Atlantic for weeks on end, risking disease and destitution if we didn’t make it by the sweat of our brows because there was no way back. But in reality, in the days of jet travel and credit cards, it was a mere jaunt.

Today though, I want to introduce you to a lady who really is brave. She spent ten years in Pakistan and Afghanistan, setting up training programmes for volunteer female health workers. She didn’t just face language and culture problems, not merely the sort of plumbing and insect issues that would have sent me scuttling home on the next plane, but the sort of armed bandit issues you normally only read about in fiction. And she did this with a two-year-old in tow.

Broadening the mind?

After interviewing the famous and fabulous Martin Crosbie recently, I realised that he was the second Scot-transplanted-to-Canada to feature in a podcast. Then there’s me, a Londoner in Ontario. You may recall, I asked him if he thought the whole emigration thing had contributed to his writing, and we mused about outsiderness for a while. Intrigued, I went to the other blog I write for regularly, Indies Unlimted, and perused the other staff writers on the Indies Bio Page.  I realised that about half of us have moved from somewhere to somewhere else.

Not a scientific survey I’ll grant you but I wondered about the connection and decided to write about it. I asked some of the minions, “Did you become a writer because you travelled, or did you travel because you’re a writer?”
and “Writers often consider themselves to be outsiders, observing life. Did learning to adapt to new cultures foster this aspect of your personality?”

Only your Mum will read it…

Well, you may have noticed a brief hiatus, in the review/interview schedule. Life got in the way somewhat, and the whole voice-losing thing has been a bit inconvenient for podcasting. I will introduce you shortly to the amazing lady who wrote about setting up women’s clinics in Afghanistan, shortly before the rise of the Taliban, she’s one gutsy lady.

But in the meantime, I’m going to reprint a post originally written for the peerless Indies Unlimited, a blog by writers for writers. I’m not sure why I feel the need to defend non-fiction in general and memoirs in particular, but I do, and here’s my take…

Oh and by the way, if you fancy winning a paperback copy of TIE, the Goodreads Giveaway is open until May 10th!

 A version of this article first appeared on Indies Unlimited on Dec 12 2012

Trucking in English Podcast: Martin Crosbie

Welcome to the next in TIE’s 2013 podcast series: Interviews With Interesting People.

Today’s interview is with Martin Crosbie, author of the My Temporary Life trilogy, including My Name is Hardly, the second in the series.

reviewed this book last week and if you want to know more about Martin and his writing you can check out his website. You can also buy the book of course, by clicking the link in the right sidebar. If you’d like some background to his recent superstardom, here’s an article from Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

We had an interesting chat, here it is..

We spoke a few weeks ago and you will hear Martin refer to a book of short stories, it’s is just out so I am delighted to add one more link for you, to Lies I Never Told

My Name is Hardly by Martin Crosbie

Martin Crosbie

You already know I tend to review  non-fiction; apart from the fact that it’s what I write, it’s also frequently passed over by ‘proper’ book blogs. But I set myself a rule last year that I could do whatever the hell I liked really and you are visiting the blog of a person with an ‘ooh shiny’ approach to most things in life. So, a spot of fiction today. Why? It’s a terrific book, it’s by a bit of a writing superstar who happens to be a fellow Indies Unlimited staffer and because I can.

A bit about the chap himself…Martin Crosbie’s website says

“In a press release, Amazon referred to Martin Crosbie as one of their success stories of 2012. His self-publishing journey has been chronicled in Publisher’s Weekly, Forbes Online, and Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. Martin’s debut novel, MY TEMPORARY LIFE, has been downloaded over one hundred thousand times and became an Amazon bestseller. MY NAME IS HARDLY, his second book, was written following reader requests to hear more about Hardly, the beloved character from MY TEMPORARY LIFE.”

Trucking in English Podcast: Patricia O’Donnell-Gibson

Welcome to the next in TIE’s 2013 podcast series: Interviews With Interesting People.

Today’s interview is with Patricia O’Donnell-Gibson, author of The Red Skirt.

reviewed her book last week and if you want to know more about Patricia and her writing you can check out her website. You can also buy the book of course, by clicking the link in the right sidebar.

Patrica’s story couldn’t be more different to Jt’s, but I was fascinated by their similar reasons for writing their lives down. We also have a first this week, a post script! Patrica and I continued chatting after I’d said our formal ‘for the benefit of the tape’ goodbyes and she said something that I really wanted to keep, so listen right to the end….

The Red Skirt: Memoirs of an ex nun by Patricia O’Donnell-Gibson

Patrica O’Donnell-Gibson

Well I’ve gone for a total opposite this week. From the guy who began writing in prison, to the kid who decided to be a nun, and then made a fascinating journey out of the convent and into herself. I have to add that Facebook writers’ groups are marvellous for finding new things to read, especially since you know in advance that if the writer interests you, getting in touch will be easy.

Trucking in English Podcast: Jt Sather

Welcome to the first in TIE’s 2013 podcast series: Interviews With Interesting People.

(You can check out last year’s interviews here)

Today’s interview is with Jt Sather, author of How to Survive When the Bottom Drops Out.

reviewed his book last week and if you want to know more about Jt and his writing check out his blog, An Author’s Thoughts or see more about the book by liking his page on FacebookYou can also buy the book of course, by clicking the link towards the top of the right sidebar.

Jt had a few suprises for me, which is remarkable when you consider that the book itself is pretty surprising. I also heard about the most unusual reason yet for starting to write a book!

Listen on…