19 Feb 2014

Jasmine Bath: “No One’s Daughter”

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17251007 “No One’s Daughter” by Jasmine Bath is the story of a neglectful and cruel childhood. Told from the perspective of a young girl this tragic tale portrays how she is forced to take care of herself and her siblings while her irresponsible mother wastes her life away without any kind of responsibility. 
Although the protagonist is the victim of violence and emotional abuse to say the least, one of the biggest strengths of the novel is the understated character of the often almost factual descriptions of what does happen. I found this style of story telling much more powerful than loud accusations and self pity. What we recognise as outrage and abuse, for the girl in this novel it is almost ‘normality’.
Like our narrator I was waiting with her for the next drama with fear but certainty that it would come: the mother’s next baby or boyfriend – she would surely draw the short straw.
The minute detail and the many episodes of this ruined childhood illustrate poignantly how much suffering and hardship is involved for a child in such circumstances. It is hard to comprehend how much is irretrievably lost and how far reaching the consequences are. 
Although we are all aware of the basic concept of abuse this book needs to be read. 

“My name is Jasmine Bath and the novel “No One’s Daughter” is based on actual incidents from my childhood during the 1960s and 70s. I did not write this book for sympathy or notoriety; I wrote it in an attempt to shed light on the ghosts that have haunted me for a lifetime, hoping that by putting them down on paper that I could look at them more objectively from a mature point of view and eventually free myself from them.”

 

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

I live in the Midwestern area of the United States with my husband. With the exception of our oldest daughter, all of our children and grandchildren live within a one-hour radius. Our children are all grown and have turned out to be exceptional people that we not only love, but actually like. I’m extremely proud of each of them. Since the kids are now adults I’m now able to take writing from the back burner of my life and make it my fulltime job.

What made you become a writer?

Writing has always been a part of who I am, what I do. I don’t think there was anything that made me write, it is as natural to me as breathing.

Have you always written?

Yes, always.

When did you decide to write your chosen genres?

Memoir is not really my chosen genre, I had considered publishing “No One’s Daughter” as a novel but to put it forth as such, would have been a lie, a denial of the truth of what I wrote and my own conscience wouldn’t allow it.

Do you have a favourite genre?

Not really a favorite, I enjoy all genres but am drawn towards biographies and drama.

Tell us a little about the history of your book. How long did it take you to write and publish?

I never intended to write a book when I began writing what eventually became “No One’s Daughter.” It began as a form of therapy for me to help me look back at incidents that happened when I was growing up as a way to look at those events more objectively. Each incident became a chapter and when put together chronologically, it pulled together as a book. There are about ten chapters that I decided to pull before finally publishing it. Because I originally had no plans to publish it and was in no hurry, it was written over a time span of about ten years.

What was the easiest about writing the book and what was the hardest?

The easiest thing was the writing, once the words began to flow; there was no stopping it. Because it was my life, there was no guessing as to how it would end, I knew. The hardest part was deciding what to share and what to hold back when it came time to publish it.

Would you say there is a message in the book beyond the story?

Yes, I like to think that there are many messages and depending on the reader, they will each walk away with a different message.

Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

People have been wonderfully kind for the most part regarding reviews and I’m grateful for each and everyone.

What do you like most about your characters?

My characters are real human beings, people who have played huge parts in my life. Two of these people, my aunts, have always been my favorite people. Both are gone now and I miss them terribly.

Which one is your favourite?

If I had to choose a favorite, it would be my Aunt Thea. I owe my life to her.

Who would play the characters in a film?

Oh, geez, I have no delusions of that ever happening so I would have to say that I have no idea.

What are your next projects?

I have two novels that I will start working on in the immediate future; both will revolve around controversial subjects and will probably raise more than a few eyebrows.

What is your life like?

After a violent, chaotic childhood, I’m thrilled to say that my life is usually pleasantly calm and peaceful. What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing? I spend time with my husband, children and grandchildren but I am also finally learning to find time for myself as well. I love working out, walking, reading and listening to good music. Thankfully, now that the kids are all grown, I don’t have to cook as much because I’m a horrible cook. My husband is a wonderful cook and takes over in the kitchen for me whenever he has time. Wandering through stores with my husband, spending the afternoon watching a movie and then a quiet dinner makes for the perfect day.

Who are your literary influences?

Dorothy Allison, Sharon Olds and Frank McCourt immediately come to mind but there are dozens of other authors that I also appreciate.

What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

There are so many excellent book that there is no way to pick one as a favorite. As for films, one of my more recent favorites would be “12 Years a Slave.” When it comes to music, like books, I tend to gravitate toward unusual voices. Van Morrison, First Aid Kit, F.U.N., The Rolling Stones, Sister Hazel, Mumford and Sons and Barenaked Ladies are some of the bands that I listen to.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I submitted “No One’s Daughter” to about a dozen publishers before self publishing. My reward for my hard work resulted in a nice collection of very kind, handwritten rejection letters wishing me nothing but the best. One publisher was very interested but the final decision rested with the bean counters that feared it would have too narrow an audience. Realizing that the bottom line is the bottom line with traditional publishers, particularly at a time when there is so much uncertainty within the publishing community, even more so now with e-publishing being readily available, I think that independent publishing is not only a viable option but is here to stay. I love that the reading public no longer has to accept what the book gatekeepers, traditional publishing, says is worthy of reading versus what is not. As a reader I like being able to decide what is worth my time instead of having a publisher making that choice for me. For writers, this may be the only opportunity to get their work out there to be judged as to whether it has merit or not.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

There are so many that I wouldn’t even want to attempt to rattle off a list of names out of fear of leaving one off.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

They would tell that despite my insane childhood that I am relatively sane and on a mentally even keel; they would tell you that I rely on logic over emotion, that I suffer from OCD and most importantly, I would hope they would tell you that I am a compassionate person.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

Favorite animal would be a snow owl. Favorite color is emerald green. Favorite outdoor activities are walking and people watching.

What would you take to a remote island?

I don’t think my claustrophobia would be able to handle a remote island…

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

Friedrich Nietzche. No explanation needed. What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects? I have several works in progress but not able to go into great detail about them at the moment.

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

My biggest hope for “No One’s Daughter” is that people will read it and understand the desperation that some children endure on a day-to-day basis. If one abusive person reads it and realizes the pain and life long consequences of the effects of their behavior and seeks help, that would make it all worthwhile.

 

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/No-Ones-Daughter-Jasmine-Bath-ebook/dp/B009O5HA5U G

oodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17251007-no-one-s-daughter

Twitter https://twitter.com/JasmineAuthor

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jasmine.bath.author

14 Jan 2014

Skadi Winter: “Hexe”

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 “Hexe” by Skadi Winter is the captivating and amazing story of a childhood lived in post-war Germany right after the war. Told from the heart breaking and naive perspective of a young girl the story tells mainly of the love between the narrator and her grandmother from 1945 onwards. Hexe
The grandmother is a wonderful and inspiring character that is nick-named a ‘Hexe’ (witch) by people in the village, mainly because of her interest in herbs, paganism and tarot, to name a few. Despite such un-worldly interests the woman is however very wise and feeds her granddaughter lots of very philosophical and logical advice. The young girl also has to come to terms with the hostility against her mother who is accused of farternising with the enemy, even as late as 1948 when there should be nothing but regret amongst the population about its terrible past.
The perspective of the naive and innocent child does wonders to hit home many of those obvious historical and cultural points. By way of side characters, such as an abducted Polish boy working for the Germans, and other secondary people Winter describes post-war Germany incredibly accurate and with excellent detail.
Winter writes about what many Germans would prefer not to be true: Many were misled by Hitler but many deeply shared his beliefs and those did not just stop believing in 1945. It is a tribute to the author to have captured this so accurately as a strong side plot without getting stuck in it.
Besides the splendid historical aspect of the story I found myself aazingly reminded of much of my own childhood in Germany decades later: The Grimm fairy tales, Muckefugg and idiosyncrasies I had forgotten about.
The grandmother is such a impressive character, written with so much love and detail that I almost felt related to her myself.
Hexe is a very impressive, insightful and warm novel that strongly affected me while reading it, written so real it felt like a memoir more than fiction this should appeal to a large group of people, historians and those who read with their heart.
Just beautiful.

Interview with the author:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

I am 60 years old now, a mother of 4 sons, a grandmother of 8 grandchildren from mothers of 4 nations, cultural background and religion. I love my grandchildren. I had to put my dreams on shelves for a long time. I had to work to put bread on the table, build a house and be a partner to my Iranian husband, who indulged being at university and make a career.

What made you become a writer? 

I had this story in my heart for a long time. It is part of my own history and the history of my German people.

I am a passionate reader. At the age of 5, I started to read Wilhelm Busch, an illustrated book, kneeling in front of our old sofa, trying to put letters into words. I go through books, sometimes 2 at a time, living with them, getting angry if they don’t satisfy me as a reader. My little house is clustered with books. They are my friends.

I have been inspired by other writers. The ones I thought worth reading. Those who shared my believes, my dreams, my longings. Hemingway, Günther Grass. Heinrich Heine. Goethe. Schiller. Kant, Hegel. Oh, the list is endless. Philipp Kerr (a great writer, noir). One unusual one, which I keep close to my heart: Susan Fletcher’s “Corrag”. The book of my soul.

Tell us a little about the history of “Hexe”. How long did it take you to write and publish?

It took me 8 months to write and publish “Hexe” – the book about my own family, German history and the way I see it. It is a book from my heart. Maybe not overly correct with the historical facts – I only was a child when I experienced Germany after WW2. But, to me it was important, and always is important as a writer, to find out about the human soul. What makes some people stand up against political deceit, to find bravery in themselves to endure being singled out and pointed at and even pushed to the limits of society with all the hardship. Heroes? No, one facette of our human soul. To make the decision what side we are on, whom we believe and support, whom we deny and fight.

What was the easiest about writing the book and what was the hardest?

The easiest to write my book was the writing. Words just spilled out, memories, findings. I enjoyed writing Hexe. I loved my grandmother and all the values she gave to me on my way to adulthood. A little, strong, proud woman. Different from the rest. Never a follower, never a believer in Ideologies. Never bending, no matter what. She was my hero.

Would you say there is a message in the book beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

Every writer is sending a message out. Why else would we write? We want to be read. Understood. We want to communicate with our fellow humans. My message is, in everything I write:Think! Make up your own decision. Listen to your heart. Be part of this human society and understand you are a part of this human history. You have a responsibility for everything you do or not.

The reviews I have received so far, well, I am happy. There are people out there who pick up on things behind the words, between the lines. I still have to learn on how to get the message out there, but – hey, it is worth while. I am writing.

What do you like most about your characters? Which one is your favourite? Who would play the characters in a film?

My favourite character in my book is Frigg. The innocence of a child, the heart of a lion. Listening to her inner voices, experiencing with all senses. Being part of this universe. A twinkle of the eye in time. And, knowing it.

I could see my story made into a film. Why not? Dark, sinister times. Winds, forests, ancient heathen Gods. Universal questions put into animation. A young hero, historical background. Hurt, blood, killing and a soul searching for a place in this eternal web of mankind.

What are your next projects? Tell us about your other books.

I am writing on my second book. The Wolf Children of Eastern Prussia. Again, for me it not only is the accurate historical background. I did my research, though. For me it is important to pick out the one human soul dealing with atrocities, hurt, pain, inflicted by fellow humans. Political circumstances influencing on how we act or react. As individuals.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

When I am not writing, I sit in my garden, doing old, ancient rituals, walking up and down my garden path. Reflecting, breathing. Many of us have turned to old ancient Asian wisdoms for meditation. I am trying to return to our own old wisdoms, the ones before the Nazis had occupied them. I am not exactly a believer and I certainly am not a follower. I do what I feel in my heart. I try to find my roots.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

Literary influences? There are many. Grass. Hemingway. Roth. Even Shakespeare. Schiller, Goethe. Philip Kerr (love him). Susan Fletcher.  Alan Wynzel and Christoph Fischer. The latest ones and I do love them. Stieg Larsson. Thomas Willmann. Crazy, how can I list all the ones I love?

Films? There are some, but I tend to be a reader, not a film watcher.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

My best and oddest qualities? My friends love me over 30 years without me remembering their birthdays. Does that say anything?

Odd? Yes. I am not the usual friend, I am not. But when I love, I love unconditionally. My heart finds a heart and sticks to it, no matter what. I am loyal, terribly loyal.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

My favourite animals are dogs. I have three old, soppy Cocker Spaniels. They fascinate me with their pack loyalty and pack order. So easy, so unquestionable. So straight forward. So honest.

My favourite colour is blue, deep as the ocean.

What would you take to a remote island?

To a remote island I would take books. Really. Not a cliché. You never feel lonely with books.

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

Invite for dinner? I am a passionate cook. I even watch cooking programs on tv. I love to eat, I love to cook. It is an artist thing, is it not?  Oh, I would love to invite writers, a whole bunch of them. Exchange thoughts with them. Eat, indulge, drink and talk. Smile, leaning back into a comfy chair, philosophy. Words. I am a writer.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

I am writing on my second book. Don’t have a title yet. It is about the wolf children of Eastern Prussia. A story about a child’s heart. Lonely, innocent, fighting to survive. The dark forest of life. Spirits and gods of ancient tales. Are they still with us? Do we need them? What makes us follow ancient paths? What keeps our soul fed? How do we find the path we have to follow? How do we deal with collective guilt? Is there such thing? How do we carry the burden of being part of a people who did wrong?

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

I write books. Yes I do. I don’t think I can compete with the good ones out there. I only use words, searching for them, to explain what is in my heart, soul and mind. Sure, I want to pass my words on. Am I not a witness of a time? Of a people? Of a family? Of a history? I think I am. Oh, sweet arrogance. I want to be read. I have to tell. I am writing. Always will be.

Find HEXE on your Amazon site: http://bookShow.me/1491801344

https://www.goodreads.com/SkadiWinter

23 Nov 2013

“Pebbles” by Madhu Kalyan Mattaparthi and Gunjan Vyas

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Pebbles

 “Pebbles: Different faces of life” by Mr Madhu Kalyan Mattaparthi and with contributions by Miss Gunjan Vyas was given to me in exchange for an honest review but I need to stress that if I had found the book by chance I would give it the same enthusiastic write up as I am about to do now. This has been a highlight of my recent reading list without the shadow of a doubt.

The stories in this book are wonderful reflections on life as it is: The ambiguous feelings of a daughter towards her father, the coping of your mind in the adversity of street crime, death and terrorism, seemingly impossible love, rejection, violence and also in the face of unconditional love.

Each one of the stories has touched me in its own charming or thoughtful way. The authors write with such beautiful and simple prose that is very powerful and got right under my skin. I felt deeply moved. There is a little moral message in each of the stories that made me stop with amazement at the maturity and sophistication of the authors that is presented in such unpretentious and understated ways.

Be amazed by this wonderful and magic collection, be saddened, inspired, consoled and cry in despair with the characters. It was very unusual for me (as with most short stories) to get involved in the characters so quickly and to feel so deeply for them.

Highly recommended!

Interview with Madhu:

Madhu

Have you always written?

No, I started writing a few months back when an inspiration struck me.

How did you end up writing in a team and how did that work for you?

Mostly because my friend Gunjan Vyas has always had interest in literature, I ended up making a team with her. It has been great till now – I come up with ideas and develop them into a story and send it to her for editing. When I get it back from her, it’s not just edited for grammatical errors but also the story has been given some interesting tweaks.

When Gunjan comes up with an idea, she develops it into a story and edits it for grammatical and spelling errors and sends it to me for review where I tell her if I want any changes to the story or not.

What was your motivation to write Pebbles? Do you have a particular message you would like to convey?

I had written many stories and wanted them to have a greater reach. Hence, we compiled them into this collection – Pebbles.

Yes, I’d like to share this poem with the readers.

Passion.

When you do something because your gut tells you to

When you do something for the love of doing it

Gunjan

 

When you do something with no monetary goals.

Love.

 Is when it doesn’t matter how many times you talk to someone,

When you do your job without ever having to workEvery time you do it again, it’s a new, exciting, experience

When you can look in the mirror and feel pride without vanity

When a smile is on your face and you don’t know how it got there.

Happiness

The state of being when you do what you Love, and Love what you do;

Have Love and Passion in your Life;

Live Life like there’s no tomorrow

Life

Is only complete when you’re Happy

 

How much of the stories was fixed before you started writing and how much changed during the process?

My stories are fixed before I start writing. After I am done with writing them, I send it for editing to Gunjan, she makes some really interesting changes to the storyline.

What is your writing environment like? Can you tolerate music or noise or are you a reclusive writer?

My writing environment is a peaceful room with no disturbance at all. I enjoy some soft music in the background while writing.

Which of your characters was most enjoyable to write?

My favourite characters are Eveleen and Moksha. I enjoyed writing about them.

Are you like any of the characters?

Yes. From the story “Your Day will come.”

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

My life is quite simple.

I love to do street photography and explore new cities and foods in India

Apart from writing I am pursing my MBA from Badruka Institute of Management Sciences, Hyderabad a working as a business developer executive in Crecer finance services

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

Robin Sharma is my greatest literary influence. My favourite books are “Who will cry when you die”, Series of “Harry Potter”, books by ChetanBhagat.

My favourite films are “3 idiots”, “Batman series”, “Iron Man series”, “Forest Gump”  “Barfi”

My favourite music artists are Avril Lavigne, Eminem, and Maroon 5.

What are your views on independent publishing?

Every independent-publishing author is a hero because only a hero can do alone what traditionally used to be the work of many people.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I recommend Twist of fate book by Stephen.L.Wilson

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

When I asked my friend, Gunjan Vyas,this is what she replied:

Your best qualities would be you are a very friendly and sweet person; you make new friends easily and enjoy life to the fullest. Oddest would be that you are an internet addict and lazy.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

My favourite animal is turtle. Colour is blue. Outdoor activity is photography.

What would you take to a remote island?

I would like to take some good food and drinks, my Cannon 550D camera, mobile phone, and a speed boat.

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

If I get a chance at this moment I would like to invite my friend, Gunjan Vyas for dinner. We would like to go to Hard Rock Café and go crazy over there.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

Writing a few poems and stories as and when I experience something new. My next project is to release a second edition of Pebbles where we take a different look on people’s lives.

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

Read any story off Pebbles and you will know whatever message I want to convey. J

 

Gunjan Vyas is co-author as well as editor

 

http://www.amazon.com/Gunjan-Vyas/e/B00DQVLW34/r

 

http://www.amazon.com/Madhu-Kalyan-Mattaparthi/e/B00DQUEUFM

 

http://www.amazon.com/Pebbles-ebook/dp/B00E4USLYO/

Links : Pebbles trailer
Blurb: Different Strokes 

Different Strokes

Different Strokes, as the name implies, is a collection of short stories from distinguished internationally published authors and scholars. It is a work of the best minds cutting across different culture, background, education, age and experience. A collaboration of three high wired literary individuals: Sunday Igwebuike (Nigeria) representing the creme of African Literature;Madhu Kalyan M. and Gunjan Vyas (Indians) epitomizing the creative industry of the Asians.
Pebbles blurb
Life is a journey from birth to death and like any other journey, it occurs in a series of events. Time passes by and we find ourselves on a new phase before we can even comprehend the end of the one we had just lived! The journey has its ups and downs – at times we feel like time couldn’t have been better and at times, even the purpose of being alive remains lost on us. Different events have different effects on us – some affect us drastically while others simply wave at us as they pass by. These events are like pebbles – each having a different shape, a different color, a different size and together they join to draw a path in front of us which we tread during the journey of life.

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Different-Strokes-ebook/dp/B00F0O45C0/

 

 

 

 

 

 

03 Sep 2013

Judith Barrow: “Pattern of Shadows”

1 Comment Book Reviews

image

Mary is a nursing sister at a Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs. Life at work is difficult but fulfilling; life at home a constant round of arguments—often prompted by her fly-by-night sister, Ellen, the apple of her short-tempered father’s eye. Then Frank turns up at the house one night—a guard at the camp, he’s been watching Mary for weeks—and won’t leave until she agrees to walk out with him. Frank Shuttleworth is a difficult man to love and it’s not long before Mary gives him his marching orders. But Shuttleworth won’t take no for an answer and the gossips are eager for their next victim, and for the slightest hint of fraternization with the enemy. Suddently, not only Mary’s happiness but her very life is threatened by the most dangerous of wartime secrets

 

“Pattern of Shadows” by Judith Barrow is a wonderful gem of a historical novel with a greatly chosen setting.
Mary is a nursing sister at a prison of war camp in the UK during the last years of WWII. Her family often seems at war with each other, particularly Mary and her sister Ellen argue a lot, not least in connection with prison guard Frank, for whom Mary has mixed feelings herself.
The book has really great characters and a complex storyline. Although it is set in war time a lot of the book is about a regular family that has to deal with the loss of one of the family members and it is also about a blossoming but complicated romance. It is my kind of book, rich in plot and different themes while offering a lot of historic facts and insights with a fresh perspective.
The book was an interesting and very compelling read and I’d recommend it to anyone who – like me – likes a good story with interesting characters

image (2)

 

 

Hi Judith

How did the idea for the novel come to you?  Your story heavily features a Prisoner of War camp. Why did you choose this setting?

Pattern of Shadows was inspired by my research into a disused cotton mill in Oldham, a town in Lancashire in the North of England, and its history of being the first German POW camp in the country.  I was looking for information in the Oldham Local Studies and Archives for general background for a story I was writing. The history of Glen Mill brought back a personal memory of my childhood and I was side-tracked.

My mother was a winder (working on a machine that transferred the cotton off large cones onto small reels (bobbins), for the weavers). Well before the days of Health and Safety I would go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school. I remember the muffled boom of noise as I walked across the yard and the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through a small door cut into great wooden gates. I remember the rumble of the wheels as I watched men pushing great skips filled with cones alongside the winding frames, or manoeuvring trolleys carrying rolls of material. I remember the women singing and shouting above the noise, of them whistling for more bobbins: the colours of the cotton and cloth – so bright and intricate. But above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales and the feel of the cloth against my legs when I sat on them, reading until the siren sounded, announcing the end of the shift.

When I thought of Glen Mill as a German POW camp I wondered what kind of signal would have been used to separate parts of the day for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill. There would be no machinery as such, only vehicles coming and going; the sounds would be of men, only men, with a language and dialect so different from the mixture of voices I remembered. I imagined the subdued anger and resignation. The whole situation would be so different, no riot of colour, just an overall drabness. And I realised how different the smells would be – no tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres; all gone – replaced by the reek of ‘living’ smells.

And I knew I wanted to write about that. But I also wanted there to be hope somewhere. I wanted to imagine that something good could have come out of the situation the men were in.

How did you come to writing in the first place?

I’ve been a compulsive reader for as long as I can remember. As a child, every Saturday morning I went to the local village library with my mother and carried home a stack of books that didn’t always last the week. My father didn’t believe in the television or radio, so reading was always my greatest pleasure. Books were both my passion and an escape. As I grew older they also became an inspiration for the writing I did in secret. I hadn’t the confidence to show anyone what I was doing; the short stories, plays and poems stayed firmly hidden. And, later again, like many women, work, getting married and bringing up a family was a priority for a lot of years. I didn’t start writing seriously until I was in my forties, had gained a BA degree and a Masters in Creative Writing.

How did you choose the characters for the story?

I know what I want my characters to look like but I need to sort out their personalities first. I don’t think you can be a good writer without empathy for your characters. They can’t be one-dimensional; good or bad. I suppose, initially, they’re a mixture of people I’ve known but mostly they become rounded by their place in the book.  Once I have a clear picture in my head of my character’s personality I can feel free to tell the story. But it rarely finishes up as the one I have in the beginning; the characters lead the way in that; I can sense how they react to the events in the plot, how they feel, what they say, invariably means I change the direction of the story.

Who is your favourite character and why?

Mary Howarth: She lives within the shadows of her family’s expectations of her – a pattern that rules her life. Most of all she lives within the shadow of her own loyalties. I believe we all live within the confines of our own pattern of the shadows that rule our lives – our expectations and those of other people. But ultimately she goes her own way

Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?

I believe we all live within the confines of our own pattern of the shadows that rule our lives – our own expectations and those of other people. On a personal level, I was brought up in a patriarchal household where what my father said was the rule. I know the feeling of helplessness, of the unfairness of not being listened to, of being ‘invisible’ if you like. I carried the frustration of having no voice into my adulthood. Luckily (or perhaps by wise choice) I married a man who believes in the equality of the sexes, who gave me a voice. We are still together after forty-five years.  It’s taken me a long time but I’m more comfortable with who and what I am than I’ve ever been.

What was the most fascinating aspect in the research and the writing for you?

I always carry and explore characters, ideas, a story in my head. So when I knew where and what period of time the events would take place I went back to the Oldham Local Studies and Archive to research Oldham, in the forties and also to a records officer in the county of Pembrokeshire during that decade. It was fascinating. By knowing my settings, the details of the background, I could write in the knowledge that it was a strong and a fitting place for my characters to live in.

How did you research for the book?

 The most important aspect of my research was making sure that the details of a German POW camp in Britain during WW2 were authentic. So I learned as much as I could about the history of the camp and its occupants throughout the war years.

I traced a map of Oldham in the nineteen forties and then renamed all the streets and the town – and did the same for a village in Pembrokeshire.

 Then I read books and researched on the Internet to find out what life was like during that time.

Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?

I had an idea how I wanted the plot to run but there were lots of twists and U – turns when the characters wouldn’t act as I originally intended. I didn’t want to change the personality of the characters so the plot had to be altered. Ultimately the end result was the same though. As for the sub –plots – they just appeared as the story progressed. Oh dear, that doesn’t make me sound very organised – but it worked for me.

This is part of a series. How many books will there be and can you tell us where this will be going – without any spoilers?

Changing Patterns, the sequel to Pattern of Shadows, was published by Honno in May of this year. It follows the lives of the characters, there are continuations of some of the issues raised in Pattern of Shadows – but it’s also a stand-alone book with a story of its own.

I’ve already started to research for the third in the series. It’s set in the sixties and most of the same characters are in it; certainly Mary and Peter will feature quite largely. But the children who were born during Pattern of Shadows will have the major part

Tell us about your other books.

My eBook, Silent Trauma, is awkward to categorize; it’s fictional but based on fact. It’s the result of the anger I’ve felt about an injustice done to many women. It took me a long time and a lot of persistence to get it published but, finally, I succeeded.

 It’s a story of four women affected in different ways by a drug, Stilboestrol, (Diethylstilboestrol, DES, in the USA) an artificial oestrogen prescribed to women between the decades of the nineteen forties and seventies, ostensibly to prevent miscarriages. Not only was it ultimately proved to be ineffectual it also caused drastic and tragic damage to the daughters of the women. I learned about the charity (DES Action UK) some years ago through a relative and became involved. I wrote an article for the annual newsletter and mothers and daughters affected by the drug began to contact me

The characters are a disparate group; their stories are run both in parallel and together and have been described by readers as ‘strong’ and ‘speaking with a true voice’.

I chose to self-publish Silent Trauma initially as an eBook mainly because, after years of research, I was impatient for the story to be told. Luckily, I was given permission to reprint an interview from the Independent on Sunday with two DES Daughters as the Foreword (which lends both veracity and authenticity to the book) and I’ve been given quotes from many women affected by the drug to use at the beginning of each chapter.

DES Action UK folded last year due to lack of funds but http://www.desaction.org  (the USA equivalent) is available to help and advise any DES mothers and daughters in Britain also. A percentage of the sales will go to the charity. People shy away from ‘issue-led’ novels but ultimately the story is fictitious and has been described as’ a good read’ and ‘sad, fascinating and poignant’

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

The best aspect of writing for me is that I’m never short on ideas; there so many images and words in my head – I just need to write them down. The worst aspect is time – and that I am a slow writer. I tend to go over and over what I’ve written the day before and need to get it right before I can move on. I envy writers who can speed along getting the whole story down – and then edit it.

Why do you write?

I can’t stop writing. I get tetchy if I ever miss a day – which is rare. I have a motto on the wall next to my desk “You’ll know you should be writing when you hate the world and everyone in it”. When that happens I know I’ve gone too long without sitting in front of my computer and getting words on the screen. I should apologise to my family, at this point, for being irritable sometimes.

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?

 With difficulty – on line; I’m not completely on top of things with social media because I resent spending time learning all the ‘ins and outs’ of it all. So it’s my own fault that I find keeping up with everything hard work and time consuming. But I’ve made good friends with a whole host of writers on Twitter and Facebook and I find myself drawn in. I want to read everybody’s blog and look at all the websites and answer all the posts on Facebook and Twitter. So I plod on. My favourite side of marketing is book signings and appearing at events and giving talks. On the plus side, I do manage to balance the two aspects of being a writer these days. I tell myself I was a ‘domestic goddess’ for years – now the house gets a ‘lick and a polish’ most days.

What do you do when you don’t write?

 I paint, walk. potter in the garden, meet with friends and family. I try to ignore ‘domestic trivia’ but it catches up with me eventually and so then have I spend a whole day cleaning.

Who did you have in mind when you wrote the characters?

 I don’t think I should say who I have in mind for the ‘difficult ‘characters. The rest of the them are a disparate mix of people I have met or imagined over the years.

Who would play them in a film?

I’ve never thought of that. I have been told many times that Pattern of Shadows would make a good television drama series. In which case I would love to have Gaynor Faye, from Emmerdale, as Mary.

Who are your biggest influences?

 My husband, David. And then my closest friends – one of whom is Sharon Tregenza, a children’s author, and my greatest critique.

Which are your favourite books and authors?

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou. And anything by Pat Barker; I think her writing is so complex; she mixes absolutely exquisite description with dialogue that is so believable the reader lives within the internal lives of each of her characters. I am, and have been for a long time, a real fan of her work.

Which indie writers can you recommend?

 There are so many: If I had to pick names out of a hat – Judith Arnopp, Jenny Lloyd, E.L. Lindley, Eleanor Anders, Regina Puckett, Bert Murray. And I love all the mottos and saying Khaled Talib Tweets.

What would you take to an isolated island?

 My husband and family

What else would you like us to know about yourself and your books?

 I think I’ve said enough!

 

Pattern of Shadows was published by Honno in 2010

http://www.honno.co.uk/dangos.php?ISBN=9781906784058

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pattern-of-Shadows-ebook/dp/B00940YWKQ/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=pattern+of+shadows&tag=googhydr-21&index=stripbooks&hvadid=15209327994&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=297622601706156893&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_30tvv8osf2_b

image (1)

Changing Patterns:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Changing-Patterns-Judith-Barrow/dp/1906784396/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1376847892&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Changing-Patterns-ebook/dp/B00B0STM2I/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376847892&sr=1-2&keywords=pattern+of+shadows

 

Silent Trauma, published December 2012.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silent-Trauma-ebook/dp/B00AFZ8CLO

The link to my website:

http://www.judithbarrow.co.uk/

http://www.judithbarrow.com

 Other links:

https://twitter.com/judithabarrow

judith.barrow.3@facebook.com

 

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow

 

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