My guest today has come all the way from Down Under. Normally when my Australian friends and family visit me in northern England they
often mention the cold, but luckily today has been one of the hottest days of the year so far, and I think even a resident of Oz won’t need to put a cardie on (although I’m not prepared to bet on it :) )
Welcome to a sunny and heat-filled day, Beverley Eikli!
Thanks so much for having me here, today, Helena.
Where do you live, Beverley? In the lovely Macedon Ranges, just north of Melbourne. It’s wine producing country nearby, so my favourite winery, Paramoor, just up the road was the ideal place to hold my recent Book Launch for The Maid of Milan. The event also doubled as an Alzheimers Fundraiser.
Fabulous place for a book launch – and a worthy cause.
Where is your favourite place in the world? That’s a hard question as I’ve lived in so many that I’ve enjoyed. Nine countries, I think, though more if you count the 3-month contracts I worked on in French Guyana and Greenland. But, to answer your question, the majestic mountains and stunning fjords of Norway where I lived after I married my Norwegian husband, satisfy my senses as much as the African landscape of my childhood – the rugged, treeless mountain ranges and gorges of Lesotho where I grew up – and the stunning wetlands of the Okavango Delta where I was working as a luxury safari lodge manager when I met my husband, who was a bush pilot operating between Maun and the dozens of camps and lodges dotted around the Okavango.
That sounds so romantic!
Being a writer is a great job. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I’ve had some extremely boring temp jobs in my lifetime, but the ‘worst’ job in terms of its physical demands, was when I worked as an airborne geophysical survey operator. I’d been employed because I was light and little, meaning more fuel could be uploaded for the daily eight-hour survey sorties flying 250 ft above ground. I operated the data acquisition system in the back of the plane, but when there was turbulence – such as over the jungle in French Guyana, or the Ice Cap in Greenland – I had to strategically time my moments of “throwing up” in the crucial 90 seconds between closing off and starting up a new survey line. I generally worked seven or eight days straight, so the last couple of days my flying stomach was OK, however having a day off was fatal as once back on the job I’d be back to square one, retching constantly due to the incredibly fierce turbulence, the almost unbearable heat and humidity (in French Guyana), and the steep banking of the Cessna 404. My husband wasn’t with me for much of this contract, so when he arrived in French Guyana after I’d been there for seven weeks, he told me later I looked like a walking skeleton.
That said, the camaraderie was fantastic, and when I was the only woman, and if I didn’t feel like playing cards with the guys I worked with (there was no television and, in those days internet access) I used to write a lot of romance in the evenings.
I can just imagine how terribly debilitating that must have been. I admire your resilience! And what better way to take your mind off things than penning romances :)
What book do you wish you’d written? Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen. She’s brought the early 1700s to life in her amazing story of complicated love during the time of the South Sea Bubble Financial Crisis.
I love your choice!
What’s your favourite song? Depending on the mood, it’s either something bluesy like Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable. For years, though, I’ve found I get twice as much housework done if I’m energised by listening to South African pop group Mango Groove.
I must check them out. They sound brilliant. Great name!
If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them? My mum. I’d say I wish we’d had more time together but that I’d want her to know the time we did share gave me the grounding to make choices which have led to my living such a happy, exciting and interesting life filled with wonderful people. Sudden departures leave those left behind with the regret of not having said important things. I wish she could have known how happy I’ve become.
What’s your happiest childhood memory? The many holidays we spent at our family seaside cottage in Coffin Bay, South Australia. We used to go there three times a year, and with no television our days were spent reading books and gazing across the bay towards Rabbit Island, or taking the boat on fishing and camping expeditions. Mum and Dad were very adventurous and we’d camp on beaches (once finding the water lapping at our feet) or go swimming from the edge of a sandbar in the middle of the bay which plunged to great depths and always had me and my two sisters terrified of sharks, though mum had no fear of anything, it seemed to me.
That sounds completely idyllic.
If you had to marry a fictional character, from film, television, or books, who would it be? I was going to say Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, but I realise I’ll never win him from Claire. And that’s just fine with me, because really, I wouldn’t want to be married to anyone other than my own gorgeous, handsome husband.
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? That’s very deep, isn’t it? And rather a difficult question, as hopefully at my age, I’d have learned a few. Perhaps the advice I’d give based on my own experience is to find the right balance between pursuing a life of adventure but without being reckless, so that if your last moment is unexpectedly thrust upon you, you don’t think of all the exciting things you WISH you’d done.
The Maid of Milan is a very untraditional Regency historical with lots of intrigue, published by Choc Lit. It’s about a Regency ‘party girl’, called Adelaide, who makes a terrible error of judgement and then is manipulated into maintaining an entirely fictional past in order to retain her respectability. Just as she discovers she really is in love with the honourable, reformist MP whom she reluctantly wed three years before, her former lover blasts into the picture, a celebrity due to his scandalous book, The Maid of Milan. Now all of London is desperate to discover the identity of his ‘muse’, the woman he writes about with such passion.
In order to protect the reputations of those she loves, and her own burgeoning love with her husband, Adelaide is plunged into an even deeper abyss, with more lies compounding the fragile fiction she’s woven about herself. The Maid of Milan is a story which explores how far true love can stretch in order to forgive falsehoods and lies, told both to protect oneself and others; and it’s about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.
Also, I’d be delighted if you dropped by my website/blog where I’m running two concurrent series on Cover Artists, and Vignettes of Expat Life.
My FB page is here, and my Twitter handle is @BeverleyOakley
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Thanks so much for coming by today, Beverley. What fascinating tales you have to tell. And I absolutely love the premise to The Maid of Milan. It’s been lovely getting to know you!
If you have any questions or comments for Beverley, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!