Sunday, 29 March 2015

My Lovely Blog Hop

I’ve been invited by the multi-talented Berni Stevens, who designed the cover for ‘A Suitable Young Man’ and who is a writer herself to participate in the Lovely Blog Hop. The blog is intended to let you in on some of the less well-known things about me. If you’ve not dropped off to sleep before you get to the end, I’ve added some links to other Lovely Bloggers who’ve agreed to carry the baton forward.

First Memory
Me aged about 18 months
The hazy recollections I have of my early like are like snapshots, faded, none too clear and all of them connected with the Second World War. My earliest memory is of my Mum and me running through a blacked-out Manchester at the beginning of an air raid. Who could forget the bloodcurdling wail that struck fear into the hearts of everyone or the same sound of the ‘all clear’ which always sounded much lighter, less fearsome? A further click of my mind’s eye shutter and we were on the train to Bolton on our way back home, seeing in the black night outside, fires leaping and flaring from buildings that were being bombed. 

I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read or when I haven’t had my nose stuck in a book. One of my favourite books of all time has been ‘My First Two Thousand Years’ by George Viereck and Paul Eldridge, first published in 1928. It is supposedly the story of the Wandering Jew, a legend about a Jew, Cartaphilus, who taunted Jesus on his way to the cross and was then condemned to remain alive until the Second Coming. The book follows his adventures throughout history, covering all the major events and figures up to the First World War. The style is archaic and the content somewhat esoteric, but the story fascinated me as a young girl and still does. As much as anything, the book reminds me of my late Dad. A working man all his life who didn’t have much education, he nevertheless had a sharp and enquiring mind. He was an inspiration to me and I still miss our lively conversations, even though he’s been dead sixteen years.
My lovely Dad and Mum

I adore libraries. To me they’re a treasure trove of books all waiting to be read and I can never enter their portals without a feeling of anticipation, wondering what gems I’m going to find there. Sadly, with the effects of local council cutbacks and the increasing emphasis on being an information/computer centre, there isn’t as much space for books. And increasingly, it seems to me that the choice is more limited. I’m finding that I’m buying more books now, particularly for my Kindle, whereas at one time, library books would be my main choice for reading. All good news for us writers, of course!

Now that bookshops are more geared up to market and promote specific books, bookshops don’t excite me as much as they used to, though I do love a browse in a second-hand bookshop. In Chesterfield (my nearest large town), the last independent bookshop closed down some years ago. All that remains is a WH Smith and a Waterstones – sad but true of many towns and cities I fear.

My Passion
History! My preferred reading choice is historical novels, I don’t mind how far back in time they go. But it’s not just books. I will eagerly watch a tv programme if it’s about history, one of my favourite presenters being Lucy Worsley, who has a way of making history come alive. I’ve been doing my own family history now for close on 30 years and, as I’ve learned about their lives, feel closer to my ancestors. All four of my grandparents died before I was born and I have felt their loss all my life. Through my research, they’ve come alive for me.

Me as a schoolgirl
Oh dear, what can I say about this one? My old school report says, in several different ways, ‘Anne would do much better if she didn’t day-dream quite so much.’ That’s stood me in good stead as a writer but not much help in the academic department! Some people seem to sail through their education, finding it easy. I never did; I always had to work hard. It didn’t help that, with my parents being in domestic service for much of my childhood, we moved around a lot and that meant changing schools. Most of my education was sheer slog and I left school without taking any O levels (the equivalent of GCSEs) though I did manage to gain two later in life, Sociology and English. I’ve always had an enquiring mind though which has stood me in good stead.

A long time ago, when working as a weaver, the work of tending the looms was repetitive and boring and I used to scribble notes down on whatever paper I could get my hands on, often to the detriment of my weaving. I did scribble on and off over the years as I lived a full and varied life, including living and working in the United States. I even wrote three novels prior to ‘A Suitable Young Man,’ now gathering dust on a shelf, probably the best place for them. It wasn’t until I took early retirement that I started writing seriously. I’ve had quite a lot of success writing family and social history articles for national magazines, something I still do. Creating a fictional world and the characters who inhabit it is still my raison d’etre’ though. ‘A Suitable Young Man’ and its follow-up novel ‘Bittersweet’ (working title at the moment) are set in 1950s Lancashire, my home county but my next writing project may well be a ‘proper’ historical novel, set some time in the Victorian era. I have a heroine in mind, Emily, and a hero, Giles, and may well utilise my knowledge of the cotton industry and/or the early days of immigration to the United States.

I’ve loved doing this blog, it’s really made me think about what makes me tick, and hope that those I have nominated to follow me, enjoy the experience too.


  1. See how your day dreaming turned out - a perfect end to a lovely story! Fascinated to hear you worked as a weaver, Anne, there's a book in that story, too, no doubt.

    1. Thanks, Linn, glad you enjoyed it. I certainly hope to utilise my knowledge of the cotton industry in my long planned historical novel.

  2. Lovely memories, Anne, thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Carol. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Love the picture of you as a schoolgirl, Anne. You haven't changed a bit! Those huge eyes!

    1. Thanks Georgia! When I was younger, people used to say I had cow's eyes - large and mournful!

  4. Anne - I really enjoyed learning more about you via 'the hop'.... what an opening scene to your life ... (Manky on fire - also my dad's earliest memory.)

    From now on, I shall always think of you as that 'wonky weaver lass what writes.' :-) Wonderful stuff. Thanks.

  5. Thanks for the compliment, I like the 'wonky weaver lass what writes' - lovely stuff.