Read Self Published Blog Tour - Things you probably don't know about me...

Thanks for joining me on the Read Self Published Month Blog Tour!
Today instead of talking about my two books, which you’ll find on my books page, I thought I’d share a few things about me.

A million years ago I was in a band
Supporting PWEI
Well, 30 years ago actually, in a little place called Stourbridge in the West Midlands in the UK. It just feels like a million years ago. It was in the late 80’s and indie bands were everywhere. My sister’s boyfriend, Jon, was starting another band and he asked me if I wanted to be a backing singer. Despite the fact that I had never been in a band before, or had any aspirations to be in one – I was never someone who sang into a hairbrush in front of the mirror - I said, “Oh alright then.” This was just after I had promised myself to say yes to things in a bid to make my life more interesting. As a strategy in providing excitement to life, I can recommend it.

So, at some point soon after I found myself in a practice studio called the Fridge, warbling into a mic, and wondering what on earth I was doing. This state of confusion, excitement and nerves, was to last for 2 years. It involved practice sessions, eventually gigs in front of actual people, and increasing popularity. The band was called Ned’s Atomic Dustbin.

Me, on the left obviously, in my goth moment in Neds
 At that time there were a few Stourbridge bands, and The Wonderstuff and Pop Will Eat Itself were two of the biggies, and we were lucky enough to support them. There were fun times – free passes into lots of gigs, and not so fun – touring with a load of blokes, but after two years my time was up. My final gig was at the Hummingbird in Birmingham, now called something else, playing third support to the The Wonderstuff who were headlining, and Jesus Jones. I confess that while I am creative in many ways, music is not one of them. However, I do enjoy a good SingStar session 😊

They went on to do pretty well, releasing an album, performing on Top of the Pops, and still do a Christmas gig every year back in the UK.

At this point Grunge was creeping onto the horizon and I was a big fan. This led to a very hectic period in my life of seeing more gigs, going to festivals, pubs, and virtually living at my local indie club JB's - the original on King Street. Good times...

I acted in a theatre group in Birmingham
Now with acting I was on more familiar ground. I had acted before in a few local amateur dramatics my mother and neighbours were in, and was prone to impersonating the teachers that taught us in my nurse training, so joining a theatre school was lots of fun. Our couple of years of evening classes and small productions culminated in a summer of street performances of a translated French farce – I forget the name. I played an old crazy lady with blacked out teeth called Clotilde, I think, while my friend Jen played my old and ancient old crazy lady friend. There were about 7 of us, and we had a pantomime donkey. The old crazy ladies’ role involved running around the streets drumming up an audience, with donkey in tow, as well as having parts in the play. We performed in band stands and village greens, all money made going on alcohol and food. The culmination of our summer of fun was a performance at Ludlow festival. I wish had a photo to share, but I don’t. We ended the summer with a party at Cecelia’s house – out excellent rear of the donkey – it was epic and went on til dawn, and that’s all I’ll say on that. And thanks to Pete Tulk, our illustrious director; it was a summer I’ll never forget.
And yes, I still act occasionally when we enter NZ’s 48 hour film competition. It’s in the blood darling.

Lawrence Durrell is my writing God
Lawrence Durrell
He’s certainly not for everyone, but I think he’s brilliant. I first discovered his writing when I was 18 – just before I joined Ned’s. I read Monsieur first, the first book in the Avignon Quintet, and it was like nothing I’d ever read before; it’s an excellent meta-fictional series. After racing through those I had to read more, but was convinced his other books couldn’t be as good. Wrong! The Alexandria Quartet is stunning. Mountolive is my favourite book out of the quartet, hence the name of my publishing house, and my alter ego on Pinterest and Instagram.

One shelf, but there's more!

I’ve read all of his books, including his travel books, and have collections of his writing, and commentaries on his life and writing. In fact, reading Lawrence Durrell was one of the reasons I joined Ned’s. His stories are populated with colourful places, colourful characters, and different ways of being, and they prompted me to look at life in a way I never had before. I wrote a short autobiographical piece on him for a memoir paper I did for my English degree. I’ll think I’ll publish it here and share it.


I garden as obsessively as I write and read
The decked path garden
Gardening is a family obsession. My late nan, my mom, and my sister all love(d) gardening. There’s nothing quite like the Spring when furtive green shoots are stirring, and I become frantic to get into the garden to weed, plant, mulch, prune, and dig new beds. Writing takes a back seat during Spring.
I live in a very pretty place called Pinehaven, about half an hour out of Wellington NZ, and our house is on the edge of the bush. As a necessity, gardening involves the wilful destruction of saplings which shoot up everywhere, and the steady clipping back, or sometimes hacking back, of everything native. If I didn’t garden regularly here our section would be completely reclaimed by the bush.
I spend lots of money on gardening, so am now planning a greenhouse – I had one in the UK and miss it. We also have a spa pool. I recommend them, especially after a hard day in the garden.
The top garden, early spring


Yoga is the new black
Also becoming close to an obsession. I rearrange my entire working week around my Wednesday lunchtime, work-based yoga class, as well as doing sessions at home. Downward dog, upward dog, crow, bow pose, dancers pose, Warrior 1, 2 and 3, and happy baby, among many other poses, are all familiar words now in my vocabulary. If you like yoga you’ll like Bali. I’m going in a couple of weeks to stock up on my yoga gear, as well as many, many, other things I’ll be buying in Bali.


And to finish off
I’m a very impatient driver, and behind the wheel I swear a lot. I now drive a Nissan Skyline 3.7 GT, which indulges my impatience.

Sacha
Leia
I own two cats, Sacha and Leia. Sacha arrived first nearly three years ago, and is calm and independent, and sleeps on my bed properly at night without whining in my ear. Leia arrived on Christmas Eve, and is a grey tabby bundle of insanity, who still does not understand that 3.00am is an inappropriate time to lick my face to wake me up.

I love holidays abroad, especially Asia, but love being at home and pottering too. Our home is an eclectic mix of colour, pictures, books, and stuff!

I do not have children, by choice. Motherhood was not for me.

And of course, I write. One day it may actually make me some money, but of course I do it for love 💗.  Thanks for joining me today, and if you'd like to hear more from me in the future, please sign up to my newsletter (you'll get a free kindle copy of Tom's Inheritance), or subscribe to my blog. In a few days I'll be posting about King Arthur.

The next blog on the tour is https://mackenzieflohrblog.wordpress.com, the author of Rite of Wands.

And if you'd like to see more of Read Self Published Month, check out this page - https://zachchop.com/read-self-published-month/

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