I’ve been asked my writer friend Laura Wilkinson to join My Lovely Blog Hop. Here are some thoughts on early memories, writing, and why Enid Blyton let me down.
My earliest memory.
I was about three of four, on holiday in the Irish village near Connemara where my mother was raised. I was in a shop standing next to my grandma. She was a very tall woman and I remember suddenly looking up at her, startled, as she started speaking Gaelic to someone. It was the first time I had heard another language, unless you count Wiganese, the vernacular of my hometown. I remember feeling afraid and alienated but fascinated by the babble of unfamiliar sounds. She later taught me to count and say a few greetings in Gaelic, words I recall almost fifty years on.
I developed an interest in foreign languages at school and went on to study five though I can by no means speak them all. I also became an English Language Teacher and studied linguistics as part of my teaching M.A.
Visits to my local library as a child are also some of my early memories. Ours was in Pemberton, a surburb of Wigan. It was a beautiful building on an ugly main road and a short walk from our house. We were allowed to go there alone from an early age and my friend Liz lived directly opposite. She had rabbits and I used to hang over her garden wall on the way home from my weekly visit and check on the bunnies. There were two shelves by the door in the library in the children’s section that I visited again and again. Famous Five, Secret Seven, Mallory Towers, St Clares – I can’t remember reading anything else except Enid Blyton for years on end. I was devastated a few year ago when I saw her played by Helena Bonham Carter in the film Enid. I had no idea what a dreadful old cow she was and how horribly she treated her own children.
I wrote my novel, The Relative Harmony of Julie O Hagan in my lovely local library in Manchester. Local libraries are very different these days. They are community and drop- in centres as well as being a hub for readers. You find a lot of society’s most vulnerable and damaged people there. My short story, Terry Taliban is set in my local library. It centres around a disturbed individual I used to observe when I was writing my novel in there.
Books and writing
My books fill the walls of two rooms in my house and I have a special shelf for signed copies that I’m very proud of. I still buy books but when I published my own novel I bought a Kindle and now I read mainly on that.
One of my few regrets in life is that I started to write fiction in my forties and not my twenties. I try to write most days and I’m steadily getting through my second novel.
My lifelong passion has been reading and now writing but I also have a bit of a thing for northern soul music. I grew up in Wigan, home of the Casino and northern soul was everywhere when I was in my early teens. My friend taught me a few dance moves in her bedroom but the Casino burned down before I ever got the chance to go. I only really got into the music again recently and I can be found dancing around my kitchen with my ten year old daughter or at soul nights in ex working men’s clubs with other oldies. The story of northern soul is a fascinating one and it remains for me one of the few genuine underground music scenes. I find it hard to keep my feet still when I hear it. The tunes lift and transport me like no other music ever has.