I’ve been invited by fellow Very British writer Alice Huskisson to answer some Very British questions. You can find her blog entry here: http://www.themaninahaystack.com/#/newsblog/4568893650
A VERY BRITISH BLOG TOUR 2013 is a collection of blogs, books and authors who are surprisingly very British. Paul Anthony http://paulanthonys.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/a-very-britsh-blog.html is the original host and invites you to take part in ‘A Very British Blog’ by visiting and supporting the websites of authors involved in the tour and who are dedicated to turning out some of the finest books available in Britain today.
Each author named at the bottom of the page has been asked the same questions but the answers will obviously all be different. By the way, we British have certain conventions, traditions, and procedures that are expected. There is a dress code in the reading of this British blog and you are expected to comply with it.
For example… Gentlemen will wear suits, white shirts and dark ties. (Military ties are expected wherever possible). Ladies will wear dresses (one inch above the knee, no higher, no lower) and floral summer hats. A break for tea and cucumber sandwiches is expected at some stage and is permissible. (I’d like to make the point here that I personally detest cucumber and never wear dresses, but never mind, I’m sure you get the general picture!). Now then, let us proceed in an orderly fashion. As you know, we are all very boring and staid in Britain, aren’t we?
Well, there’s a myth about the British and your starter for ten Stuffy, class conscious, boring, staid! But is this still relevant in today’s world? Let’s find out from our wonderful writers what they feel about it. So, without further ado, here my answers:
Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?
A. I was born in Stanmore, which is now part of Greater London. I live in Oxford, by choice because I love it.
Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?
A. I grew up as an air force child and have travelled widely, so, no, I haven’t always lived and worked in Britain. In fact I both lived and worked in Brittany, France in the late 1980s. However, I’ve been settled in Oxford and based my work life there on and off for many years.
Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?
A. I can’t pin myself down to liking one particular part of Britain. I love Scotland and Wales, the Peak District, the West Country, Kent, as well as towns and cities such as Oxford and Canterbury. Britain is beautiful and varied and I love it all really.
Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?
A. Ah, yes, all my published books, including the pagan ones I wrote in the 2000s for the American publisher Llewellyn, center around Oxford and the Cotswolds. My Aunt Sally novels are very much based in the Oxford area and my other novel, The Sacred Marriage, is set in Brittany and Oxford.
Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish – about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?
A. I think we do tend to be more restrained sometimes than, say, the Latin races (who are able to show how they feel without fear of ridicule); but I don’t support the stereotypical view of the stiff lipped Brit and we are certainly passionate enough when you scratch the surface of our supposed reserve.
Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?
A. Dante Blackthorn, one of the main characters in the Aunt Sally series (The Aunt Sally Team, Aunt Sally & More and the third in the series, being written now, After Aunt Sally) has been to public school and had a very strict, loveless upbringing, so he appears to have a stiff upper lip; but he’s also an alcoholic and so has been known to be subject to passionate emotions and furious rages. The other characters handle emotion in various ways, none of them being ‘typical’.
Q. Tell us about one of your recent books
A. The Aunt Sally Team is about a group of disparate people who come together to play a traditional English pub game. The book is written in a soap opera style, switching from character to character as it follows their lives and interactions. It none-the-less tackles serious issues such as racial prejudice, alcoholism and teenage sexuality.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. I have two books on the go at present: one is the third in the Aunt Sally series and the other is a kind of sequel to The Sacred Marriage, but written in a way that verges on chicklit.
Q. How do you spend your leisure time?
A. I have two dogs, a Saluki lurcher and a border collie/Arctic mix, and walking them takes up some time. We usually go down to the river, to an area called Aston’s Eyot (which features prominently in my books), which is a nature reserve with deer, kites, buzzards and all manner of other wildlife. I also spend a lot of time reading, being a total readaholic. I enjoy trips into Oxford city centre as well – Oxford is a truly beautiful city and I never tire of walking round it.
Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?
A. I aim my books at both, but I do find Britsh people particularly identify with my style of writing (which can be quite tongue in cheek) and in the settings.
Q. Can you provide links to your work?
A. Of course. All links are the UK Amazon first and US second:
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheAuntSallyTeam