Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War

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Hello readers, hope you’re well I have a fantastic guest post today with Mary and her brilliant book. I hope you’re enjoying these insights into different authors and their books because they’ve all be wonderful – please leave a lovely comment below and see the links below to follow Mary’s social media platforms below!

My memoir, Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War (Rowman and Littlefield), came out in hardback two years ago and was reissued in paperback eight months ago. I structured the “plot” of my family’s life chronologically, with the focus alternating between the larger picture of the Cold War, the more intimate dramas of our gypsy household, and the private convolutions of my own psychological development. These were very different stories, and each demanded its own kind of research.

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For the larger picture of the Cold War, I had lots of books and articles at my disposal. Studying histories of the Cold War as a professor had given me a lot of background material for the book. Spending time with the wars of the twentieth century wasn’t pleasant. Those are bloody stories for anybody, but for me they brought back memories of hard times at home. With the names—Eisenhower, Kennedy, Diem—and the places—Vietnam, Moscow, Havana—came recollections of base housing, where we waited for Dad to come home and hoped he was okay. Apart from the emotional edginess, though, this kind of research was relatively straightforward.

For the stories of my own family, the sources were more complicated. First of all, my father had never told us anything. Like other military dads then and now, he was committed to a code of secrecy about the missions he was involved in. He took those secrets to his grave. And he chose not share with my sisters and me those episodes he could relate: they were too violent or frightening in some other way that might shock our young (and girlish) ears. I have reason to think he did tell these stories to my boy cousins and perhaps to my mother; but she too was very circumspect and kept them to herself if she knew them.

What I did have from my Dad was a substantial collection of letters he wrote. And a lot of military records ended up in my mother’s files after my Dad passed away. Those provided a crucial map of the very complicated chronology of his career and definitive, if cryptic, indications of where he went and what the missions were.

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But much was missing nevertheless. My Dad was a good letter writer, but he would go for long periods of time without communicating anything. During his first tour in Vietnam, for example, there was a six-month period when we didn’t hear from him at all. My sisters and I had nightmares and my mother worried constantly. Eventually we heard from the Red Cross that he was alright. It was still a while before we heard from him directly. I describe the effects of all this on my psyche in the book, but for the purpose of building the narrative it meant I had to try to sort out the speculative from the factual in family rumors (still circulating) about where Dad was and what he was doing those months he was in the dark.

 My mother, of course, was another resource for the story of our family. She was a great story-teller. A striking character herself, she gave dramatic accounts of my Dad, his friends, the extended family, and my sisters and me as kids. But she was unreliable. She loved the story more than anything, and the truth sometimes suffered from this.I interviewed her over a period of several months—this was a few years before I wrote the memoir—and learned a great deal about our early years that I hadn’t known before. Much of it turned out to be accurate. When I checked on her versions of the larger history and her tales of my Dad’s work, however, I saw that in some instances she’d picked and chosen scenes and dialogues for their effectiveness in her story rather than as they had actually happened. I tried to make that in itself part of her portrait in Fighter Pilot’s Daughter—without dishonoring her memory.

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For the convolutions of my own psychological development, I had my girl-diaries, journals, and letters to consult. They brought back some of the crucial details of daily life in our household and in the scattered rooms and apartments I called home after leaving my parents’ care. The smells of particular kinds of paint or the odd placement of windows—these details can really bring life to a memoir, and I was grateful to my younger self for having kept a record of them.

But the greater pool of information lay in my memory banks. These in some cases were wide open, but in others not so much. For the harder memories, I had to sit with whatever I could clearly recall and wait for more to come. Sometimes it took days of going back and waiting. It was like courting somebody or, I imagine, being a therapist hoping a patient would come to see something crucial. Memories of my mother’s anger at me when I came home from college in Paris during a time when I was breaking away from the family ethics and beliefs came slow and with difficulty. What was even harder to get back was the recollection that finally emerged of her actually fearing me. She didn’t understand what influences I’d been exposed to in Paris and was frightened to know what they might mean. In the end, it was all much ado about nothing, but it was a hard picture to look at: my own mother, afraid of me.

Living in memory as continuously as I did during the writing of Fighter Pilot’s Daughter introduced a rich practice in my life. The more I remembered, the more I remembered; and writing was an important vehicle for drawing it out. The whole experience of going into the deep past of my youth has given the self-portrait I carry around with me a lot more dimension than before. On the other hand, all this the research—into the histories, letters, journals, interviews, and my own mind—not only made the book possible, but it worked like a kind of self-therapy: and a lead to several new understandings of myself as a fighter pilot’s daughter.

So there you go readers, a fantastic guest post from Mary and her fantastic book! you can use the links below to see more about the author and follow her booktastic journey! 

Links for Mary Lawlor’s Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War

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Mary Lawlor’s website

Website Page Fighter Pilot’s Daughter

Amazon

Facebook

Goodreads

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Do something today that your future self will thank you for. (2)

Hellllllo – TODAY IS THE DAY. I’m going to try and attempt to review 1Q84 and I’m a little bit worried about it because it’s such a MASSIVE book to review in one go. I’ll get straight in because there’s so much to squish in but enjoy. Or try.

(ALSO THERE WILL BE SPOILERS I’M SORRRRRYY!!) 

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

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I’m a little bit scared to review this book because I know that T loved it so much and I just struggled with it. It took me almost a year to read and on reading the last 50-ish pages I knew that it wasn’t going to give me the ending I needed. The book started out fantastic, the characters are exciting, the writing style is beautiful. I adored snuggling down and engrossing myself in the depths of Murakami and his writing.

The first part of the story is very plot-driven and exciting. The lead characters are really exciting. Aomame is a really unique character – she’s almost a sim-like character with her lack of emotion and how different she is from Tengo who is this blissfully aware character who is struggling with so many different emotions, events and this constant connection to Aomame. Murakami seems to deal with a number of interesting social issues specifically about the misogyny of Japanese society. The struggle for job advancement and destructive and abusive marriages.

Murakami has such a way with words that allows you to become a part of the story. Even Tengo cooking allows you to see the depth of Murakami’s writing for example.

“Tengo chopped a lot of ginger to a fine consistency. Then he sliced some celery and mushrooms into nice-sized pieces. The Chinese parsley, too, he chopped up finely. He peeled the shrimp and washed them at the sink. Spreading a paper towel, he laid the shrimp out in neat rows, like troops in formation.” 

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It is like this the entire way through and as we met more and more characters I found myself more and more engrossed in the world that Murakami was creating.

(SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) 

However suddenly the book climaxes to an utterly confusing ending. Aoname turns from this avenger, calculating character becomes a character that is bearing a child waiting endlessly for Tengo who kind of meanders around. The plot is doing nothing also – we’re introduced to the Little People, the crysallis, we’re in the middle of the BUILD UP and then it just kind of gets disregarded. Everything is okay, nothing really FRICKEN happens. What happened, what was the point. WHY GOD WHY?! The first half sets up so many mysteries and less than half of them are explored at all! 

So, my thoughts – I know this review is pretty short even though the book is hella long. I think that I could really adore Murakami because I thought the writing of his book was honestly beautiful. I really found myself completely sucked into the writing the style and I think if it was a little shorter I might have enjoyed hella more. I think because I spent so long in the story to have everything pulled away from me just made me angry. I read a couple of reviews that tried to convince me that the author is trying to turn the tale back on the reader – erm no. No it’s just silly. If you haven’t read 1Q84 I would recommend Murakami for the style but  I couldn’t really recommend this tome of a read. It left me a little cold.

LINKKKKKKKS

Goodreads 

Amazon 

#TTT 10 books I want to listen to as audio-books

Hello readers! Hope you’re having a fantastic Tuesday and ready for another TTT. It’s a really interesting post today because I’ve been tempted to pay for audible for months now but I just don’t have a lot of time to listen. Now that I run a hell of a lot more I think it could be a good idea.

On another note if you think about listening the 1Q84 by Murakami it would take you 47 hours. #WHAAAAA. Enjoy the top ten audio books I want to listen to.

This Boy Audiobook

This Boy: a Memoir of a Childhood written and read by Alan Johnson

I started reading this book over a year ago and I just lost some steam reading it and gave up. It’s a beautiful memoir about growing up in the 50’s and the difficulties of living beneath the poverty line.  I really want to finish this.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo Audiobook

AMY SCHUMER HAS BEEN ALL OVER THE PLACE RECENTLY and I’ve kind of stayed away but I think it’s time to read a little more from Amy Shumer and report back to lovely humans.

Spectacles Audiobook
I mean it’s Sue Perkins right? Why that hell have I not listened to this yet.
The Martian Audiobook
I utterly adored this film I’ve watched it three times and I thought it was pretty godamn fantastic. I think it would be good to listen to the book and I think because it’s pretty long it would be good for distracting me while running.
The Girl in the Ice Audiobook
The Girl in the Ice: Detective Erika Foster Crime Thriller by Robert Bryndza
Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

 

^ I love Thrillers and this one does not look like it would disappoint. The cover really, really drew my eye so I thought why the hell no. 

 

The Year of Living Danishly Audiobook
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell
Maybe I just want to be Danish? Maybe I loved Denmark. Maybe I miss Copenhagen. Maybe the yellow house drew me in. Maybe I should just shut up and reading this instead.
Mad Girl Audiobook
Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon
Bryony Gordon has OCD.

It’s the snake in her brain that has told her ever since she was a teenager that her world is about to come crashing down: that her family might die if she doesn’t repeat a phrase five times, or that she might have murdered someone and forgotten about it. It’s caused alopecia, bulimia, and drug dependency. And Bryony is sick of it.

Keeping silent about her illness has given it a cachet it simply does not deserve, so here she shares her story with trademark wit and dazzling honesty.

^ I’m reaaaaaly into memoir’s at the moment and I think this one could be quite an inspiring one? I’ll report back. 

The Rosie Project Audiobook

The Rosie Project  by Graeme Simsion

I suggested this to Mumma B and she still hasn’t read it! Due to not wanting to buy another in the same form and I want her to read it I’ll just get it on audio book and then maybe we could finally discuss a book together.

The Danish Girl Audiobook

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

I really wanted to see this when it came out but I really wanted to read the book first but I have so many other books to reaaaad so maybe I’ll just listen – when I can’t get up in the morning #YAWWWWWWN

One Hundred Days of Happiness Audiobook

One Hundred Days of Happiness by Fausto Brizzi

What would you do if you knew you only had 100 days left to live? For Lucio Battistini, it’s a chance to spend the rest of his life the way he always should have—by making every moment count.

^ This a book for when I want to cry whilst I’m out running because this seem uber sad but utterly beautiful – PROBABLY. 

So there you go,  ten books I would like. Also T if you’re there maybe you could just buy me an audible subscriptions  forever? Thank you.

Life of an Aspie: Looking into everyday life with Aspergers Syndrome


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Hello readers, so many fantastic books that I’ve had the chance to help promote recently and this one is really fantastic. Like really, really fantastic. So I’ll introduce the book and hopefully we can all maybe learn a little about life with Aspergers Syndrome (scroll down for my Q+A with Kerrin!)  

A startling fact you may not be aware of, is that as many as 50% of people getting diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome today may not have been diagnosed with the condition.

This is a problem which Kerrin Maclean, who is embracing being an Autistic, in which has been identified and is passionate about rectifying. People like Kerrin who has Aspergers Syndrome do not suffer, it’s not an ailment it’s a neurodiverse need. We struggle from people’s judgements but not from Aspergers Syndrome. And in her new book, Everyday life of an Aspie, she sets out to dispel the many myths which surround it while still acknowledging the facts.

Nothing is left out. There’s a chapter devoted to tips about dating and relationships with Aspie’s and an all-import section with information about support groups.  This book really is a must-read for all people who have AS, their families, friends and partners.

If you were to describe your book in only three sentences how would you describe your book?

If I had to describe my book with only three sentences it would be – A self help guide that has tips and advice that people with Aspergers Syndrome struggle with i.e. depression, anxiety etc for young and old readers alike. It’s a life story following what it’s like growing up with Aspergers Syndrome before, during and after my diagnosis.

How much research did you need to do to write the content for the book?

I only had to do a few hours of research by asking others in the Autistic Community what their lives are like and we had a discussion in the topics that is shared in my book again with Anxiety, despression etc. It was a six month process, but using my life experiences helped to really create an in-depth book.

Why did you decide to write this book? What was the inspiration behind the book?

To let readers know that Aspergers Syndrome is real and does exist. Many people who has Aspergers Syndrome are different on the spectrum yet with a bit of empathy and understanding along the way – we can go far. My inspiration is as always wanting to help people through their everyday struggles being the voice of the unheard- being a mentor, support person/advocate.

Life of an Aspie: Looking into Everyday Life with Aspergers Syndrome by [Maclean, Kerrin]

What is the main message you wanted to teach through the book?

The main message I want to address that despite having Aspergers Syndrome I am trying to remove as much of  the stereotyping and stigma that goes hand in hand with this as well as with other mental health disorders. I am hoping to dispel the myths about Autism, Aspergers Syndrome etc. We need to change our way of thinking and attitudes about this condition as we need to make some resources readily available somehow in some sectors for this especially in the health and education.

Finally, how can we keep up to date with you as an author and your books?

The viewers can be up to date through my social media sites!

Facebook: facebook.com/aspie.answers
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AspieAnswersAll
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWKw1HpNsu_EyAhhEJrayyw

I think Kerrin is truly inspirational and by creating this book she is helping to teach us all about living with Aspergers and how you can overcome the stigma and the lack of knowledge that many of us have. It’s a brilliant book that really looks into all aspects of Kerrin’s life and is a fantastic guide. I’ve inserted a number of links below so enjoy!

Links 

Amazon 

Twitter

Youtube (Definitely worth a look!) 

Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure: A guest post for MLBB

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My name is Andrew Joyce, and I write books for a living. One morning, about six years ago, I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. I threw it up on a writing site on the Internet just for the hell of it. A few months later I was notified that it was to be included in an anthology of the best short stories of 2011. I even got paid for it! I’ve been writing ever since.

Lizzy has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure, so I thought I’d tell you how it came about.

It all started way back in 2012 . . .

My first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months; then sent out query letters to agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults in the Old West. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status in its category on Amazon (twice) and won the Editor’s Choice Award for best Western of 2013. The rest, as they say, is history.

But not quite.

My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,324 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 139,000. However, he was insistent about a sequel, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way that I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly asked me to tell her story. Molly was a minor character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again.

So I started to think about what ever happened to her. After a bit of time—and 100,000 words—we find out what did happen to Molly. It is an adventure tale where Huck Finn weaves through the periphery of a story driven by a strong female lead. Molly Lee was my second book, which achieved #2 status on Amazon.

Now I was finished with Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer for good. Now I could go back to my first novel and resume the editing process.

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But not quite.

It was then that Huck and Molly ganged up on me and demanded that I resolve their lives once and for all. It seems that I had left them hanging, so to speak. Hence, RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure. Here is the blurb from the back cover of the book:

It is 1896 in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The largest gold strike in the annals of human history has just been made; however, word of the discovery will not reach the outside world for another year.

By happenstance, a fifty-nine-year-old Huck Finn and his lady friend, Molly Lee, are on hand, but they are not interested in gold. They have come to that neck of the woods seeking adventure.

Someone should have warned them, “Be careful what you wish for.”

When disaster strikes, they volunteer to save the day by making an arduous six hundred mile journey by dog sled in the depths of a Yukon winter. They race against time, nature, and man. With the temperature hovering around seventy degrees below zero, they must fight every day if they are to live to see the next.

On the frozen trail, they are put upon by murderers, hungry wolves, and hostile Indians, but those adversaries have nothing over the weather. At seventy below, your spit freezes a foot from your face. Your cheeks burn—your skin turns purple and black as it dies from the cold. You are in constant danger of losing fingers and toes to frostbite.

It is into this world that Huck and Molly race.

They cannot stop. They cannot turn back. They can only go on. Lives hang in the balance—including theirs.

By the way, they are all standalone books that just happen to utilize the same characters, but the stories are self-contained. They can be read in any order.

There you have it. Now, if you nice people will just go out and buy RESOLUTION, perhaps Huck and Molly will leave me alone long enough so that I can get some editing done on my first novel.

Thank you for having me over, Lizzy It’s been a real pleasure.

Andrew ll

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

Author Website 

Goodreads

Hard Girls by Martina Cole

Do something today that your future self will thank you for. (2)

Hellllllllo readers, interesting book today because I picked it up when I was a little desperate in Nottingham? I went to a Hen Do and upon getting the train back to Stoke realised that trains from Derby to Stoke didn’t run until about 2 hours after I had arrived. With no book and no laptop I was a little bit stuffed, so I explored Nottingham (a tiny bit) and found a lovely charity shop and picked up this! So now imma going to tell you what I thought!

HARD LIVES. HARD LESSONS. IT’S MURDER ON THE STREETS.

Danielle Crosby had a body to die for. A body she sold to the highest bidder. But she ended up paying for it with her life. When a prostitute’s body is found lifeless, mutilated and brutally raped, DCI Annie Carr has never seen anything like it and never wants to again.

Kate Burrows, retired DCI now consultant, has plenty of experience when it comes to murder — after all she caught the Grantley Ripper and broke the biggest paedophile ring in the South East. She is determined to help put the killer behind bars. But whoever it is won’t be easily caught. And when another girl’s body is found, even more horrifically disfigured than the last, it’s clear the killer is just warming up…In a ruthless world where everyone’s out for themselves, Annie and Kate must dig deep if they hope to catch a callous serial killer who knows no limits and makes no mistakes.

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This is my first encounter with Martina Cole and unfortunately I’m still a tiny bit undecided on this book. I’m not going to include too much about the blurb because it is quite extensive. DCI Kate Burrows is living with Patrick Kelly former criminal who has tried valiantly to change his life for Kate (a former DCI who currently works as a consultant on new cases.) When working girls are found murdered in terrifying ways Kate is drafted into help but it turn out the case falls a little close to home. Is Patrick involved? Did he know anything about what has happened? Annie and Kate must work together to solve the case.

So why did I struggle with this? Well it wasn’t due to strong female characters because there are some fantastic female figures in this book. Kate and Annie are fantastic characters – full of strength, vigor and freaking sass. What I also liked was the actual murders – they were scary, they were horrific, it did make me a little frightened and I was very interested in getting stuck into the story, but there were problems.  Many problems.

The problem really is the repetition of the books – many different lines, situations, and meaningful moments and thoughts of the characters are repeated. Over and over again. Although it’s not the same words it feels like you’re reading the same section again. There are two problems to this – one it waters down the tension and excitement and secondly IT MAKES IT SO GODDAMN LONG. It’s almost 600 pages. Like wha.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

The second, and maybe the main problem is that the story revolves so much more around the detectives than the murder. Honestly, we don’t even get a murder suspect until 400 pages in? At the beginning it’s really exciting that there are no clues at the beginning as to who it is, but it starts to wane. I don’t want to spoil the plot but the detectives solve the murder less through detecting ie the murders, more so from the relationships they have as detectives if that makes sense? (Just a quick not had totally worked out the murderer so – yeaaaah.)

So, what do I think. I did actually enjoy this and I knew that I would finish this. I did feel like the murder was really overshadowed and even the final reveal was overshadowed because it almost felt like a sub-plot WHICH IS NOT GOOD. But, I know that this is quite far through the series and therefore I don’t know if this was book written for die-hard fans of the series who wanted to see more into the relationship of Kate and Patrick? I think I’ll finish this by saying I want to read more by this author; this one didn’t quite work for me though.

Amazon 

Goodreads 

Author Website 

Waterstones 

Of Wisdom and Valor by Aleksandra Layland

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Helllllllo readers, hope you’re well and ready for an excellent but really LONG post so I won’t be here long. I’ve got a fantastic Q+A with Aleksandra Layland and her book Of Wisdom and Valor.

If you were to describe your book in only three sentences what would you say? (They don’t have to be short sentences!)

Sometimes shorter is best. Specifically, for “Of Wisdom and Valor:”

  1. The good guys win in the end, and you’ve never seen a war like Leofric plans one, but “luck” or “providence” can still have a critical role to play in who survives in the end.
  2. The love stories are touching, and there are several; love is truly the force that holds the universe together and it can transform even the dustiest of hearts into one of passion for life.
  3. In its small way, this novel is also a subtle salute to those who protect and defend us in a dangerous world, and to their families who love and support them while they do so.

Which character did you enjoy writing the most? Who would you say is your favourite?

This a hard one because I really enjoyed writing three characters more than any others: the heroine, Keridwen: the hero, Leofric; and Leofric’s friend and lieutenant, Wulfgar. Since Keridwen and Leofric are no surprise (if an author doesn’t enjoy writing about their hero and heroine, they need to replace them!) and are impressive as the main characters, let me address Wulfgar. He surprised me the most because the more I wrote about him, the more his role in the story increased and the more I liked him. Although Kimbria is not in our time, and is a world not of our own, I see Wulfgar in my head as somewhat of a tall, reddish-haired (close-cropped on the head, and only short growth on the face), man in his early forties who can be absolutely uplifting with his good humor, joking, and teasing. He’s charming and very approachable, yet you want to get out of his way if he loses his temper. The good news is, his temper is the quick kind… it may be quick on, but it’s always quick off, and he’s loved by the men-at-arms who serve under him for all he can break into a swearing session if something “stupid” or irritating happens.

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Did you learn anything from writing your book and if so what was it?

I learned a lot of technical things. Although the story isn’t set here on our own Earth, I used our experiences and civilizational developments in building the world in which Kimbria is located. The indigenous people, the Kimbrii, are a sort of blend between medieval Vikings in appearance and early age Polynesians in culture, such as wearing Viking-inspired dress, dancing and chanting in ancient Hawaiian-inspired movements, and originally skilled in hand-to-hand combat inspired by Maori greenstone weaponry. When they become a horse people, I used the native American, European, and Asian horse cultures as models for their mounted archery. (These cultural differences are spelled out in the first book in the trilogy, Ansgar: The Struggle of a People. The Triumph of the Heart.)

I should add that something else I’ve learned much more about while writing the book is my English heritage. I knew my mother’s paternal grandparents were English, but I didn’t know where from or any other details until I worked on our family genealogy after I retired. To honor those roots, which come from northern England, I incorporated my mother’s maiden name of “Layland” into my pen name; and adopted place names and even the name of the indigenous people, the Kimbrii, from the counties and peoples where my English ancestors lived. (If you’re curious, “Aleksandra” is a nod to my father’s Polish roots.) In the bigger picture, I learned how long it takes me to write a book. I type with two fingers! The idea for the love story of Keridwen and Leofric came to me in my twenties, in dreams. I’ve only been able to finally write it in my sixties, as well as to add to it the rest of the other books which fill out the Windflower Saga trilogy and book series.

Is there a message in your novel that you wanted your readers to grasp?

Very much so. Each of the novels in the trilogy as well as the three related novellas that I’ve completed so far, have a specific theme. “Of Wisdom and Valor” is very much focused on the struggle between good and evil, both within an individual and within a society, as it expressed in the forces that contribute to war and peace. The individual struggle is personified in the character of Gethin, or Lord Gethin as he became. A sort of “con man on steroids,” one to whom the lives of others means nothing.  This individual struggle is captured in the phrase, “Every child can become the light of the world, or its darkness.” On the societal level, the struggle is characterized by corruption in all levels of society, from the monarchy, the religious hierarchy, and down.

 The theme is that corruption in society should be fought, not necessarily by war, although this situation came down to it, but by the commitment and involvement of citizens to demand and bring about good governance, and to hold public officials, religious leaders, and their fellow citizens accountable. Overall, the Windflower Saga is meant to be uplifting in spirit, even though it deals with some very harsh realities of life.

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What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

My mother took me to the library as a small child and I learned to love to read. Both of my parents, though they had only a high school (that the American term) education, loved to read. My dad, who was a brick and stone masonry contractor, use to say that he graduated from the University of National Geographic magazine. And the hardest decision my mom had to make the few times we moved from one part of the US to another, was leaving books behind because there wasn’t room in the moving truck to take them. I use to go to the library as a child, as soon as I was old enough to walk there on my own, and rove the shelves, taking an armload home and bringing an armload back, every two or three weeks. I read all sorts of things, both fiction and non-fiction, but I really enjoyed history and biography a lot.

What are you writing next? Is there a second book on the way?

Of Wisdom and Valor is the second book in the Windflower Saga trilogy (the other two are Ansgar and Far Haven), which I wrote last year, along with three novellas (The Feathered Crown, Far Endeavor, and Bind Not the Heart) that relate to characters in the trilogy. I also just finished two small picture books for kids (Tiyo, the Dog Who Saved Ansgar and Bright Star, A Pony of the Kimbrii) and a short “chapter book” (Keri and Kalina) for young readers. I’m currently working on a “middle grade” novel called Golden Skye of Ansgar, which actually tells something more of the lives of Leofric and Keridwen, when the last of their children is born and they are about to abdicate from the throne as joint monarchs after serving the people of Kimbria for twenty years. Two novellas for young adults and three other novellas are on my plate. They will complete the Windflower Saga book series.

Finally, where can my readers find out more about you and your writing?

I have an author’s page on Amazon. After I finish the novels and novellas in the series, I hope to prepare an “illustrated companion and author’s commentary” in which I can tell the story of what inspired the series, things about the characters that were cut out during editing, etc. The questions I’ve often wished I could ask an author who was no longer with us.

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Amazon

Goodreads

YouTube 

Audio Excerpt from the novel “Of Wisdom and Valor”