Walking Over Eggshells is an autobiography about your life and how you survived growing up and living with mental abuse. What inspired you to put your experiences into a book?
Originally I never intended to publish my experiences of growing up, I wrote about my life solely for my children to explain my parenting skills, or lack of them and to give them a greater understanding of me as a person. I was aware of the effects of the fraught relationship I had with my mother but totally unaware of the cause. As I recount in the closing chapters, it was only after her death that quite by chance I read about Narcissistic personality disorder and my mother’s reactions, behaviour and responses ticked all the boxes. I was over 60 when she died and only then I learned that no matter what I’d done, I would never, ever have been able to make her love me. If only I had walked away decades earlier I could have saved myself years of heartbreak. From talking to other victims in various forums I realized there were thousands of people out there in a similar position and that’s when I decided to publish my story. From the huge number of emails I’ve received, I know it has helped many others and that has been the greatest award of all.
In this book you talk about many of your life experiences. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The way my mother behaved towards me, belittled, mocked me and hurt me. I was also aware that many people would not understand why I was so stupid and returned time and time again only to receive more abuse. Only those who have been conditioned and brainwashed from birth to revere parents and respect families would understand this, many other people wouldn’t. As I wrote it opened the wounds, but at the same time pouring it all out on paper helped the healing process.
The novel covers the entire span of your life including your childhood. What is one common misconception you find people have about child abuse?
The media is full of stories relating to sexual abuse. To the outside world I was an only child, with all the comforts, food, nice clothes, private school, even the hated ballet lessons, living in a beautiful area in England. But what went on behind closed doors was ongoing mental abuse, and I think this has a more damaging effect that any other kind of abuse. It strips away your sense of worth, your self confidence, destroys any chance of achieving your potential. It doesn’t stop the day you are old enough to say ‘no this is not right’ because you can’t rely on your own judgement you have been taught that you are the problem. It follows you through life and while some simply give up, others will try again and again to be the perfect person and will fail again and again. I grew up in the days when there was no such thing as Child Line, no one to talk to, all adults stuck together, no one criticised the older generation. I was totally alone in an ongoing nightmare.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I published Walking over Eggshells in 2013, and since then, I had written two further memoirs about my career in writing for radio and television full of funny and tragic stories.
I have also written four action/adventure books set in Africa featuring my heroine Amie and the latest of these is Cut for Life published in October 2017.
I am taking a month off to co-ordinate my marketing strategies (which are a disaster!) and then I will begin the next Amie book.
Walking Over Eggshells is an autobiography that tells the story of a mentally abused child, who married a “Walter Mitty” clone who took her to live in many different countries. They moved from England to Kenya, from Libya to Botswana and on again to South Africa. It took all her courage to survive in situations that were at times dangerous, sometimes humorous, but always nerve wracking. She had a variety of jobs, different types of homes, and was both a millionairess and totally broke. At one end of the scale she met royalty, hosted ambassadors, and won numerous awards for her writing and for her television programmes. At the other end, she climbed over garbage dumps, fended off the bailiffs, and coped with being abandoned in the African bush with a seven week old baby, no money and no resources. She admits to being the biggest coward in the world, but her survival instincts kicked in and she lived to tell her story. This book will make you laugh and cry, but also it also explains the damage being brought up by a mother with a personality disorder can inflict on a child. However, it is not all doom and gloom, and hopefully it will inspire others who did not have the best start in life either. All names have been changed to protect both the guilty and the innocent – and that includes the author as well!
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Sleepeth Not, the Bastard is a fascinating and thought-provoking look at suicide and how it affects the people around the tragedy. Why was this an important book for you to write?
While I myself have had no direct experiences with suicide, I’ve been around many people who have, and have also been stuck in situations surrounded by people who literally teetered on the edge of themselves with staying alive being on one side of that edge, and ending it all being on the other. It’s a sticky subject to talk about because so many people have a fixed concept in their minds that suicide is always, always, ALWAYS a bad thing. I’ve often questioned it myself, the idea of what it would be like to kill myself (albeit not seriously, just what the scenario would be and why and what would happen after the fact). I suppose it may be strange to think that yes, there can be reasons for one to want to end themselves. After all, we aren’t asked to be born, why can’t we have the freedom to decide when enough is enough? Then again, that’s not exactly the motive behind the suicide factor in this book. It’s become a wonder to me why so many people see victims of suicide as being selfish or even cowardly when it feels as though those left behind couldn’t possibly make that call themselves. To end one’s own life, depending on the circumstances of course, may be the most brave thing someone can do. I wanted to explore that with this book, because when Josh does take the leap, he puts into motion a train wreck that can’t, but also SHOULDN’T be stopped.
Your characters are always well thought out and often go through dramatic transformations throughout the story. What is your writing process like in developing your characters?
Generally, especially as of late, I can’t plan out from the start where my characters will end up by the end of the story. Most of the time I just start writing, and sometimes something in the background or from my memories will inspire me to expand upon said idea. The characters, as with all if not most writers out there, all have a little part of me in them. Sometimes characters turn into what I wish I could be. Sometimes they exist in a world in which I wish I existed, and so on. With “Sleepeth Not, the Bastard”, the characters just sort of came out of me; the dialogue, the exposition, the plot surrounding their actions and influencing their motives. I can’t describe it as well as I’d like. Maybe, if anything, I take the worst of me and put it into the story hoping the characters can figure out for themselves what would be the best course of action.
I understand that you work in the service industry and often travel from state to state. How has your work helped you write your books?
Travel has had a huge influence on my writing. Constantly being in a state of motion is more or less the cheapest drug I’ve ever been able to get my hands on, but with it also comes a slew of emotions. Being away from the people I love, not being able to feel the comfort of my own bed, things like that have a heavy effect on what goes on the page. Meeting people everywhere I go aids significantly in fueling the personalities and behaviors of my characters. As nasty as my job can get, even with the worst days I’ve had while on the clock, being on the road is more than enough to make up for it.
Your stories often cover a wide range of themes in many different genres. What is one genre or theme that you haven’t yet touched but want to write about?
I’ve dabbled in science fiction and fantasy in the way WAY past but don’t think I’ll ever go back, but that could change. I’ve considered tackling psychological horror, sort of in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe and Eli Roth, but there’s very little in the works in that department. Sometimes I’ll watch a horror movie and think, wow… I could definitely write something like that, and it’d be fun and terrifying. But then I get stuck on my other writing, my contemporary fiction kick that I’ve been on for a while. Who knows? After the book I’m currently working on, I might make a go at something completely different.
“The gravity of fate is nothing in comparison to the fleeting warmth of a loved one’s last kiss…”
….thus reads the final words of High School Senior Joshua Feranna.
Several years later, Lew, his father, currently working for a faceless loan shark, has dipped into a drug and lust-filled method of cope. Separated but not divorced, his wife Autumn finally tracks Lew down, begging him to come home to help take care of their identity-in-crisis daughter Zoey.
But when Lew’s friend from high school, Sarah Fox, having lived the life of a drummer in the all-but extinct rock band “The Bastards” returns to town stalked by a rumored “Resurrection Tour”, Lew’s world truly becomes a thing of legend….and doubt.
What transpires from then on is a continuing snowball effect that will inevitably lead to the cataclysmic destruction of one family and others as the world continues to busy itself around them in seamless melancholy.
“Sleepeth Not, the Bastard” is a story about people, each one steadily climbing towards a foreseeable yet undeniable end. Each person influencing the other in one massive string of events escalating and culminating at the end of their respective worlds whether those worlds be of mental, emotional, psychological, or delusional origin.
Part drama, part dark comedy, part rock ‘n roll epic, with a copious and perhaps endless helping of sex, drugs, and infamy… “Sleepeth Not, the Bastard” is a romp for this generation, an homage to those that came before, and a warning for those that follow.
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Fractured is a captivating story of heroism, greed, and fulfilling one’s destiny. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
Dune is perhaps my favorite book ever. I read it back in the day. After reading Dune Messiah, I was sure I knew what would happen next. When Children of Dune was published, I read it and threw it across the room, saying, “If Frank Herbert won’t write the book I want to read, I’ll write it.” I had no idea what I was doing, and I certainly had no concept whatsoever of where this first step of the journey would take me. But I knew I needed a “gimmick.” That’s when the idea of a world where sexism had never existed entered the story, but what began as a gimmick became an opportunity to define character with the facets of light and dark that exist in all of us rather than by the character’s genitalia and served as a significant guide to my world-building. Who are these beings that in their society there is no division of labor by gender? What differences between earth humans and the people of Garla (physical and mental) would bring such a thing about?
Lisen is a complex teenage girl that is brought to life by your writing style. What were the morals you were trying to caputre while creating your characters?
None of my characters is either all good or all bad. I revel in the gift of digging down deep and finding the darkness in the light and vice versa. For me, each character deserves the opportunity to show the reader all they’ve got and allow the reader to judge for herself. As for morals, I believe that one must know how to think before one can make any moral decision. Even then, the moral decision may not be the best decision at the moment. Sometimes, we have to sacrifice the “good” thing for the “right” thing (a major decision in book 2 illustrates that). Luckily, Lisen comes into the story with some pretty strong ethics that have been taught to her by the Holts, her guardians on earth. This allows me as the writer to challenge those ethics and see how she does.
What I loved most about the novel is that it plays with the idea of who is truly in charge of shaping our path in life. Did you put any of yourself or your experiences into this book?
I have always had a strong connection to the dead, but certainly not to the extent that Lisen does with her gift as a necropath. I think one of the most interesting aspects of the story is the character of Flandari, a woman too tightly wound to give her son any love at all and who is ultimately stolen away from Lisen before Lisen gets a chance to know her. My mother was a distant woman, and I realized after creating the character of Flandari that she was very like my own mother. Unlike me, however, Lisen finds a way to love. She makes a friend in Jozan, and there is clearly something going on with her Captain Cutie. She’s open to the possibilities, and this is thanks to her time with the Holts.
Fractured is book 1 in the Lisen of Solsta series. Where does book to take the characters and what do you invision for the series in the future?
There are 3 more books already available: Tainted, book 2, in which Lisen must come to terms with what to do about her brother (and which contains the true beginning of the match between her and Korin); Blooded, book 3, which finds Lisen struggling with this new mantle on her shoulders of Empir; and Protector of Thristas, book 4, which begins fifteen years after the end of Blooded because I wanted to know who these people became when they grew up. I am currently working on what was originally book 5 and the final book. However, it’s turning into a longer project than originally planned, and although it will still put an end to the story, it’s likely to be two books rather than one.
“Seventeen-year-old Lisen Holt only begins to realize that her life is fractured after a sorcerer abducts her from a California beach and brings her home to Garla. She awakens at Solsta Haven, a refuge for the spiritual members of Garlan society known as hermits. The sorcerer, Hermit Eloise, has returned Lisen?s body to its true form?a human-like marsupial with no visible breasts and a fuzzy pouch just above where her bellybutton once was. She then restores Lisen?s memory of her first ten years in Garla, leaving her earthly existence behind but not forgotten. Although she is Lisen of Solsta now, questions haunt her, questions Eloise refuses to answer. Who are the parents who left her at Solsta? Why did Eloise send her to Earth? And what is so important about her that Eloise has manipulated so much of her life? The answers will propel Lisen into a quest for a throne, and all that will stand between her and her birthright is her matricidal twin of a brother.”
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Echo by Marguerite Valentine is a coming-of-age tale that dabbles with mental instability and the crazy world of teenagers. It starts off slow as we learn about the main character, Echo, and her turbulent relationship with her mother. Echo is an adult when she starts telling her story, and goes back in time to when she was nine years old. She grew up in a single parent household and it’s obvious that there are strained feelings with her mother. The story is told in the first person as Echo tells us of her summers in Wales and meeting a boy, Ifan, who seems much like an apparition. The story weaves and turns as Echo grows up and learns more about who she is and how the idea of sex can have such power. Without giving too much away so as not to spoil the read let’s just say that Echo goes on a very long journey of self-discovery that both begins and ends at the farm in Wales.
The tale is broken into six parts and takes place mainly at the farm in Wales and then in London, England. The split between nature and the bustling city serves as a good divide for Echo’s life: the farm holds her youth, her innocence and her naiveté. The city holds her adult life, her disillusions with society and her pain.
The story jumps about and the grammatical issues can sometimes detract from the actual tale. As we learn more about Echo it becomes easier to attribute the choppy parts and the strange emotions the main character seems to go through to the fact that Echo is a teenager dealing with the complexity of growing up.
The central themes of self-discovery and dealing with abandonment are very prevalent in this story. Echo knows only her mother, whom she dislikes, and subsequently gets rejected or hurt by every male presence in her life. These are very real and heavy themes, but the way Valentine has Echo react to their heaviness is very realistic. Echo has been at a disadvantage from the beginning. While she has food to eat and roof over her head she is never treated quite like a child should be allowed to be. This becomes very important later in the story as we watch Echo make some questionable choices. It’s impossible for Echo to react in a ‘normal’ way because she was never taught how.
Aside from some continuity errors, Echo was definitely a more realistic coming-of-age story that suits our current world. There are no rose-colored glasses as Valentine gives us the very raw experience of Echo and her journey to adulthood.
Pages: 278 | ASIN: B0196YHSNC
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