Thursday, 7 July 2011

Who am I? Really? Part one - the early years...

I sat there last night during 'The Apprentice' (beyond happy that Melody got the boot! That'll teach her to ignore Tom's instructions to buy more nodding dogs - Jim to win!) thinking about just what it was that I was doing, apart from drinking some rather nice home-made white wine and contemplating whether or not to have another chocolate from the fridge.  I meant, what I was doing in terms of getting people to know just who I was, and not just as an author.  Because I believe that letting people know who you are, letting them into your life a little bit, letting them get to know you - that can go a long way into making them want to give your books a try.  Hopefully!  And have I been personable in any way?  Have I actually let anyone know who I really am?  Not sure I have to be honest.  So, I've decided to rectify that.  I'm not going to ramble on in some kind of serialisation of my life-story, I'm not that interesting, but I am going to talk about some of my best experiences, some of the things which have shaped me or inspired me, or just been nothing but incredibly good times.  You might find them interesting, you might not, but I hope you do.  And I hope it gives you a little insight into me and my life, and just why I'm here doing this right now.  Apart from the fact that, if I wasn't, I'd just be watching 'Cash in The Attic' and going slowly up the wall...

So, where to start?  Well, I'm not going to go back to the 1970's and...actually, why not?  I was a child of the 70's and those times were some of the happiest for me.  My childhood was great!  We had no Playstations or Xboxes, no TV's in our rooms (got a black and white portable sometime in the 80's, I remember watching 'Brookside' on it) and certainly no satellite channels!  God no!  We had to actually get up out of our seats to turn the TV over but, to be honest, that wasn't actually something that happened a lot.  I mean, we only had three TV channels so the choice wasn't exactly epic was it?  And when it came to kids' TV we were limited beyond belief compared to what they've got these days...I can see it happening, I'm about to utter those words that mean you've definitely hit middle age - "kids these days, they don't know they're born!"  I can't help myself, because it's true!  But I do think the quality of programming was better then.  'Multi-coulored Swap Shop' and 'Saturday Superstore' were classic programmes that kick-started our weekend, and when we got home from school (a place we walked to and then walked back home from, no lifts from parents for us) we had 'Cheggars Plays Pop' and Mike Reid's 'Runaround' - quality TV!  And who could forget 'Crackerjack'?  You knew it was Friday afternoon and you had two fabulous days off school when 'Crackerjack' hit the screens.  Mind you, it all went a bit down hill in the summer holidays when all we got were repeats of 'The Monkees' then some middle-class kids on 'Why Don't You' telling us to "get up and do something more interesting instead", which we invariably did, turning them off and going outside.  We went outside a lot back then.  We had bikes and we used them, even if it was just to go to chip shop on a Friday night to get a bag of chips and batter before 'It's A Knockout'!  Good times!

But another thing I did a lot back then was read.  I loved reading.  I had loads of books, from Beatrix Potter to Enid Blyton and I devoured them all.  My particular favourites were The Malory Towers series of books. I used to love lying in bed reading them, wondering what it would be like to go to boarding school and have a trunk of cake and sweets and fizzy pop sent to me while we plotted our midnight feasts without matron having any idea what we were up to.
 I could totally immerse myself in that world, the story took me away from everything and I loved that, being able to picture another world so far away from mine.  They lost me a bit with Lacrosse but I was brought up working class.  Lacrosse was never going to be a big part of my life.

The Famous Five were another favourite of mine.  A lot of my friends read those books too and we could often be found in the summer months riding round the streets around our homes pretending to be The Famous Five, (although my Yorkshire Terrier at the time refused point blank to have anything to do with his part in it all so we had no Timmy, and I'm not sure having a character called 'Aunt Fanny' would go down all that well today either), and if we wanted a real adventure we'd take sandwiches and a bottle of Dandelion & Burdock up to the top field (as it was known then - wouldn't let kids of mine anywhere near it now though, it's just a hiding place for weirdo's waiting to happen!) and sit on the climbing frame and pretend we were running away from something.  Homework, usually.

That was the beginning for me, those books and many others - although, thinking back, it had probably started even earlier than that with the Ladybird books and Topsy & Tim back in Primary School - but my love of reading and writing began very young.  That love of being transported into another world, into a story that let you be a part of it, I adored the fact that I felt that.  I hated putting books down, I hated not finishing a story once I'd started it and I think that was when I knew I wanted to write.  I wanted to be able to transport people to another world (Jesus, I'm sounding like Doctor Who now...oh God, don't get me started on that, I'm still traumatised at David Tennant's departure...) or at least just give them something good to read.  And I'd like to think that I'm finally achieving that, or hopefully I will in time.  But it's thanks to my childhood passion for books that I'm doing this at all.  That and the fact that most of the 70's was spent outside, making up stories of our own and playing them out; it was fun.  So, yeah, the early years were good ones.  The 70's were cool.  Was I still having fun in the 80's?  Well, you'll have to hang on to find out...

For information about my eBooks 'No Matter What' and 'Too Much Trouble in Paradise' visit my new blog 'An Indie Author's Showcase Blog'  for more information about how to buy them, and to read excerpts from the books.

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