I have fellow British author Jane Richardson with me today, and we’re outside in my back yard soaking up the rare Yorkshire sunshine. Lovely to have a warm day! I’ve poured us some tea and cut us both a slice of Battenburg, and we’ve been having “a right good call.” (Call rhymes with pal – and is Yorkshire for gossip! )
Where do you live, Jane? I live on the south coast of England, in Hastings, in Sussex. Yes, Hastings, as in 1066 and all that, although the famous battle actually took place a few miles away. I’m a Scot by birth, and lived in Scotland till my mid-twenties, but I moved to the south coast a long while ago and have lived in Hastings for the last five years or so. Being on the coast, with our own historic fishing fleet, means we have fantastic local fish and seafood. Hastings is absolutely packed full of creative people, artists, musicians, writers, anything you can think of, and I’ve never lived in a town with so many festivals! Our annual Beer and Music Festival starts this week, it takes place in our gorgeous local park, and yes, it is just as much fun as it sounds! Soon after that we’ll have our Old Town Festival, and at the same time, we have Pirates’ Day, which we’re all very proud of – we still hold the world record for the biggest gathering of people dressed in pirate costume! Hot on the heels of that will be the Seafood And Wine Festival – now you’re really beginning to see why I love living here!
I bet all the kids LOVE the Pirates’ Day! That sounds a fab place to live. So, apart from Hastings, where is your favourite place in the world? I love, love, love Italy. I’m especially fond of the central ‘green heart,’ Umbria, and I would give serious consideration to spending my days in the town of Assisi, if all things were equal, though I love all the other areas we’ve visited over the years. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there, we’ve visited many times with our children (who love it too, it’s a wonderful country for children to visit,) to Umbria, Puglia, Tuscany and Lazio, I spent a summer working on an opera festival in Tuscany, and I’ll never, ever tire of it. The weather, the way of life, the people, the food, the history, and the whole Italian view of the world holds an endless fascination for me – I have no idea why, but friends I have made who live there say they have seen the same thing with people from all different countries when they visit Italy – something about it just grabs you and won’t let go. Last year we spent time in an area new to us, a small town on Mediterranean coast, looking out over islands that are said to have been the settings for many of the stories in Homer’s Odyssey. It would take several lifetimes to really begin to know Italy, but I’m doing my best!
I loved taking my children to Italy, too. Coming from England, it makes a refreshing change to visit a place where young children are welcomed so warmly
Being a writer is a great job. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Working in the office of a company that sold a particular type of ‘home improvement’ product, the type that’s often sold by door-to-door salesmen – take a guess! It was many years ago, and I was between jobs and really needed the money, but it was awful. I hated the way they charged arbitrary prices depending on what they thought a customer could afford to pay, their products were not good quality, and let’s just say they didn’t employ the best fitters in the industry. Their after-sales service was shoddy, and they just didn’t care – it was about taking as much money as possible from people and not caring a jot about the product or the quality. I didn’t stay long.
Hmm. I think I know the product you mean!
What book do you wish you’d written? Oh, there are so many! Can I choose a few? Any of the Canadian writer Alice Munro’s short story collections. ‘The Distance Between Us,’ by Maggie O’Farrell. ‘The Enchanted April,’ by Elizabeth Von Arnim. And any of the Jeeves and Wooster books by PG Wodehouse, for sheer, laugh-out-loud fun.
I haven’t read that Maggie O’Farell novel – now it’s defnitely on my list.
What’s your favourite song? Again, far, far too many to choose just one, so pick some off the top of my head and swiftly move on to the next question before I change my mind. ‘Moon River,’ love the song but haven’t decided on the ultimate version yet. ‘Fly Me To The Moon,’ sung by Tony Bennett. ‘Where’ere You Walk,’ from Handel’s ‘Semele,’ sung by Bryn Terfel. I could go on….!
Lovely choices! If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them? It would have to be William Shakespeare. And I wouldn’t say anything at all, I’d just watch and listen to him directing his actors and speaking with them about the script he’s just given them to learn and rehearse. Imagine hearing him talk to the first actor to play Hamlet, or working through Jaques’ speech from As You Like It, about the seven ages of man, and being party to his thought process. I can’t imagine anything more amazing.
I agree, that would be absolutely awesome. If I could time travel, that’s one person I’d definitely like to meet.
What’s your happiest childhood memory? So many, but I’ll choose sitting in the back of my Dad’s 1964 light blue Ford Anglia (long before Harry Potter nabbed one!) feeling the backs of my thighs sticking to the hot seats, and not caring one bit because we had a picnic in the boot and we were off to the beach at Aberdour’s Silver Sands for the day.
Holidays at the seaside – the best memories!
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? Again, Will Shakespeare sums it up – ‘this above all: to thine own self be true.’ Listen, read, think, learn, discuss, listen and learn again, and try to know yourself. Know what’s right, and say out loud when something’s wrong. Don’t follow the trend, but embrace what’s truly meaningful to you. And above all, find your passion, and live it, love it, be it, because life is far, far too short not to!
And finally, please tell us about your latest book, where we can find it, and where we can find your blog/website
I’m going to shout out my novel A Different Kind of Honesty, as I think it ties in with what we’ve just talked about, finding what you truly want and going for it, no matter the odds. Here’s the blurb:
‘Always the one who ends relationships before they’ve barely begun, it’s way out of character for Maggie Lawless to take a risk with a man she hardly knows…the man she meets in a seedy New York City diner has a truth about him, a sincerity like no one she’s ever met before. Tony Valentino is an FBI agent fresh from a long-term undercover operation that’s left his life in tatters. His marriage over, separated from his children and with nowhere to call home, he’s frustrated and angry. All that keeps him going is the sweet memory of a brief encounter with a beautiful woman, though it wakes him from crazy dreams that leave his mouth dry and his sheets soaked with sweat. When he meets her again, it’s obvious the fire that burned so briefly between them never really went out…but as their affair rekindles, both Tony and Maggie find the very people they thought they could trust are the first to turn against them.’
You can find out more and read an excerpt here at Muse It Up Publishing
Helena, thank you SO much for having me over to your blog! Your questions really made me think hard, I’ve enjoyed them so much! I hope your readers will too. I can be found one way or another via my own cyber-space at http://janerichardsonhome.blogspot.co.uk/ All the best!
Jane, thanks so much for coming and for providing such brilliant answers. It’s been great getting to know you. I’ll just pour you another cuppa before your long journey home to Hastings.
If you have any questions for Jane, or any comments at all, please let us know – we’d love to hear from you!