The Boxer

My daughter sent this picture the day we learned that my mother had died. Portentous and consoling that the formation of birds like a great force of nature is both a giant bird and a figurehead at the prow of a ship. I like to think of the passing of her soul – any soul – as such a moment, at once inexplicable, momentous and awe inspiring. Named affectionately, the Boxer, for her fight and her penchant for the telly and boxes of chocolates, it is good to think of her steaming ahead to unknown waters or even through those pearly gates.


Interview with an Author”

Honeymoon is your second novel, tell us about Honeymoon.

It’s a love story but it’s not a romance. A complicated, inconvenient past unravels during Rosie and Fergal Pierce’s short honeymoon on the West Coast of Ireland with revelations of death, betrayal and deceit that would seem to implicate Fergal. The truth is hard to find and threatens to wreck not only the honeymoon but lives of others too. Rosie faces hard decisions and decides to trust her own judgement and find her own way to help Fergal reclaim his past.

What was your inspiration for the book?

During a trip to research my family tree to County Clare I spent some time in a churchyard that overlooked the wild Atlantic Ocean. It was such a desolate and haunting place, a good place to lie for eternity and a good place to start a story.

What about the cover?

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? That silver embroidered moon unravelling. The artist’s sister is a friend of mine and I was cheeky enough to ask and she was kind enough to agree that I could use it for the front cover. The picture is called Moon Wave by Lateefa Spiker

What inspires you to write? Have you always been a writer?

I came late to writing, after I’d had a family, after I’d had a ‘proper’ job but the compulsion write was always there. Or, to be more exact, the compulsion to make up stories and what ifs and other endings to films. A story is rather like gossip. You want it to pass from mouth to mouth like wildfire, be embellished in the telling and the retelling. Writing it down it is a much slower process – never mind turning it into a book – but the wish for it to spread, hand to hand, by word of mouth is similar.

Why chose self publishing?

Life is short! My first book, Murielle’s Angel, was traditionally published and it’s a long, slow process even after you have a publisher.

Are you available to speak to local book groups?

Certainly. I would be delighted to discuss the book with reading groups. Authors need readers. All the characters a writer dreams up need readers to breath life into them.

What is the most valuable help readers give authors?

Apart from reading the book and talking about it and passing it on, one of the best ways is to write reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.

Where is the new book available?

The library should order it for you, the little shop, Pieces for Places in Barmouth stock it, otherwise it’s on line from Amazon. I have copies and can be contacted via my website.

Do you have plans to write more?

Stories come from everywhere and nowhere. I’m always dreaming of something, and I certainly hope to.

Your first book is set in Spain, Honeymoon is set in Ireland would you say setting is important in your books?

Setting is important for me, personally, so I would think yes, very important. I am currently working on a story set in Dyffryn. I’m not sure where it will lead yet. I’ll have to wait and see.

Contemplating Being

So many facts from the internet that heretofore would have passed unnoticed, now cause a ripple of consciousness, a chance to remember or learn something new, even to ponder a new concept.

Turns out that Václav Havel, writer and politician was made President of Czechoslovakia almost to the day, almost thirty years ago. Not exactly an anniversary obviously and perhaps not earth shattering to know. But wait, now there’s Google.
Although but a mere stripling at the time, I do remember the sense of excitement and wonder when he was spoken of; a writer who became a politician, because it meant a slow unpicking of the Communist stranglehold on ‘the Eastern Block’, when that seemed of paramount importance. Now of course there are other infringements of liberty to worry over.

Something he said gave pause for thought, and further pause to filter it to the ether. ‘I’m convinced that my existence – like everything that has ever happened – has ruffled the surface of Being, and that after my little ripple, however marginal, insignificant and ephemeral it may have been, Being is and always will be different from what it was before.’


If it takes insurrection, count me in.

One October half term about fifty years ago, my sister and her friend decided to climb Snowdon. I was delighted to be invited to join their adventure. We pitched a tent somewhere in a farmer’s field in Llanberis. No other campers to be seen. I don’t remember rucksacks, maybe we lugged suitcases. We definitely didn’t have waterproof or lightweight clothing. Did we even have boots? A map and compass were probably on the list of did not haves.

The point of the story is not the unpreparedness but the cold that first night under the stars, still memorable, seeping up from the ground into our bones; impossible to sleep, impossible to get comfortable, impossible to get warm. The following night, the farmer took pity and let us use an old railway carriage he had on his land. The difference was life saving, even though this was a ground frost in October, and was for one night only.

How many more must die in shop doorways before a national outcry. Shelter means shelter, never mind the other mean isms. How many spare rooms, spare outhouses, spare homes even, are there out there? How many would be willing to foster someone in need? How many would be willing to sponsor to make it happen? How to convince this government that homelessness, poverty, destitution, escalated by their policies and including tax evasion, is not acceptable? If it takes insurrection, count me in.


Just saying…

Today in 1901 Beatrix Potter printed 250 copies of her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, fed up with rejection letters from publishers.

Not sure what is worse, a letter from a publisher actually saying no thanks, or no response at all. I suppose publishers and agents are inundated with wannabe writers, and too busy to reply; theirs is big business. Small fry flounder, even ending on the rocks. Actually, anyone traditionally published can be pulped.

So I’m grateful for online publishers and Team Author UK in particular whose blend of expertise in editing, design, marketing, websites, under the expert guidance of Sue Miller, make the process infinitely more achievable. The threat of pulping doesn’t even apply; virtual books are preserved in the ether.



A long winded way of saying thank you

The world faded to black and white, driving past Cadair Idris. A believer in portent and omen for no other reason than life is made up of so many coincidences and near misses that just maybe omens exist too, I think today just might have been the real thing.

December 12th was, as some may know, the day of the official online launch of a self published book that has been waiting in the wing folds of my life for too long. I duly prepared for the uncomfortable zone of maximum internet coverage, even scheduling posts, but in the early hours the photograph of the front cover, the beautiful moon wave by Lateefa Spiker, corrupted every time I tried to add it. By then I had adopted a Doris Day cavalier attitude to this mechanical failure: que sera, sera, and decided to sleep off the niggle of worry.

The first phone call of the day, usually a mechanical voice offering a new boiler in exchange for the old when we don’t even have a boiler, turned out to be my sister. I was forewarned. My mother was ill. In a split we decided the day could be spent no other way.

This is a long winded way of saying a big thank you to all who encouraged, tweeted and liked all those posts and that coming here to be with my sister and my mother today was the right decision.


Bringing the Camino Home

Bringing the Camino home, is also about returning. Even the planning, the anticipation is life enhancing, releasing the desire to write about it. Giving time to other pilgrims is a way of saying thank you not only for the very positive experience of walking but for all the blessings bestowed on us along the Camino.

We haven’t returned to Spain in four long years either as tourists or pilgrims, but plan to return in April 2018 to finish the Camino and serve a turn in Miraz the albergue run by the Confraternity of St James.

Four years ago we began walking the pilgrimage to Santiago along the coastal path, the Camino Del Norte and relished the dramatic views and the towns we passed. We took time to enjoy the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the pavement cafes in San Sebastián as we walked through, intending to revisit in tourist mode some time. At Oviedo we got the train forward to Santiago for a stint as hospitalero in the Camino Fin Del Camino. It coincided with the Feast of St. James, a joyous time to be in Santiago and enjoy the singing and dancing of groups from all round the world. Sadly, that was 2013 the year the rail tragedy cost many lives.

The atmosphere of sadness as the news spread through the thronging square that was prepared for fireworks and partying is hard to forget. So too the dignified return home or to the hospital to offer to donate blood, of the many who had gathered there. One thing is sure. Nothing is certain in this life.