It’s All About Me (of course!)

The following is a reproduction of the interview that appears on the excellent Lenka’s List website.

What inspired you to write?
There was no blinding flash of light, no epiphany moment as such. I have always enjoyed writing, be that school projects, internal memos at work and as Scottish correspondent for a national music magazine, Artrocker. (I stopped that a few years ago.)

Probably what gave me confidence to tackle a light-hearted book, was the favorable comments I received for my Facebook posts.

Did the inspiration to write come to you suddenly, or had you been thinking about it some time?
As far as writing ‘Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee’ is concerned, it was something I had a notion for doing as soon as I started my own petcare (dog walking) business.That was about eight years before I started on ‘DD&RW.’

However, I viewed it as practice-run for the book I’m currently working on. It’s a comedy-fantasy, and I just really sought some form of reassurance that I could make people smile / laugh with my writing, before embarking upon it.

How did you tell your story? In other words, did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
Being basically memoir, it was pretty straightforward. No plots to worry about! Nobody could take issue with the characters in the book as they were all real! So, it was just a case of ‘start at the beginning,’ and highlight the more humorous and poignant moments under single word headings / chapters.

Did you receive any encouragement from family and friends, or did you work on your book alone?
Oh – my wife was very understanding, what with my locking myself away in the evenings to write. (She was probably more than happy to have the TV controls uncontested, and didn’t have to watch football every night.)

I actually didn’t tell many friends and relatives I was writing the book, but I did join an online writing group, and several people there were very supportive and helpful.

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
The opening, without doubt. Same goes for my present project (now with a working title of ‘Evhen & Uurth.) Getting it to a point where you are confident that it will retain a prospective reader’s attention is not as easy as i thought it would be.

What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
Dreaming of what I was going to say on the TV chat shows I felt certain I’d be invited on. That, and deciding whether I should spend the first batch of royalties on a a flash car or exotic holiday.

Did you experience any personal transformation after the book was published?
Yeah, most definitely. I’m no longer a hopeless and hapless ‘dreamer.’

What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity?
Facebook.

But there’s loads of distractions – sport / training / reading and critiquing other authors’ works / work itself.

What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
I’m pretty thick skinned really. I think you learn to identify what is actually meant as constructive criticism, and what spiteful. I now have a band of writers whose opinion I value. So much so, I feel I can now do without the large online writing group that I subscribe to – you get so much conflicting advice, it can all get too confusing. Best to have a consistent pool of reviewers who are basically on your side, but not afraid to be blunt and to the point.
I make a definite point of asking them to be brutal in their feedback. Then, if any patterns of criticism appear, you know it’s a legit point..
Far better to have criticism now, at the WIP stage, rather than having it panned on Amazon or wherever after its publication.
Bring it on, I say!

Have you received any awards for your book? 
The short answer is ‘no.’ No awards. Nada. Nuthin. I guess it’s just not found its way onto the shelves of the bookshops frequented by Messrs Pulitzer or Booker.

Are you working on a new book at the moment? What are you up to nowadays? 
Yes … I’m working on my light-hearted fantasy. Working title is ‘Evhen & Uurth.’ This was the idea I had before writing ‘Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee’ as an exercise to see if i could actually write, and just as importantly, successfully market it.

Here’s the brief synopsis: A rather incompetent junior god and his beautiful minder; a bad tempered, cantankerous crow, and a psychopomp with a troubled past – why would anyone put the fate of the planet in the hands of this motley crew? The Dux Shrevas may just be having second thoughts.

Progress is slow, unfortunately. Trying to find time between work, training, tennis, baseball (watching) and an elderly cat with separation issues, is proving difficult. I’d like to think I can get a proper run at it and have it ready for autumn / Christmas (that gives me a decent window!).

Do you have any author appearances coming up and/or are you doing any books giveaways or contests?
I have no more promotional appearances for DD&RW planned. I will probably do another 99 cents promo in US in next few weeks. I’ve used Fussy Librarian in past. But while working on the new book, and running own business, there’s not a lot of time left for promo of the ‘old’ book. I DO know, however, that if I can get it out in front of the right audience, it WILL continue to sell. Only this week, this comment was placed on the FB page of Clean Indie Reads, by an established author:

Lia London-Gubelin: I still think that’s one of the funniest books I’ve read in years. Too bad I’m not Oprah to promote it for you with a single shout out… (15th May 2017)

Tell us more about yourself… Where did you grow up and what is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
I grew up in suburban Glasgow. It was a happy childhood – lots of playing outdoors and football. LOTS and LOTS of football (soccer.)
I honestly can’t think of any bad childhood memory. Nothing that’s haunted me ever since. (There is one helluva embarrassing memory from Primary four at school – age about 9 or 10: after watching a schools geography TV programme, teacher asked the class,
“Now, children – where is Bali?”
I had been daydreaming, but recalling something sai by the little kids over the road from my house, who went to a fee-paying, private school and had been educated in classical arts by their parents, I stuck up my hand to answer the question. Miss Wotherspoon (I’ll never forget that name) and proudly said,
“At the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, Miss,” at which point the classroom was filled with howls of laughter, and a warm glow emanated from my face.
(Yeah – where my parents and grandparents would take me to the movies (‘pictures,’ as we call them) or to see Glasgow Rangers, those little brats over the road were taken to art galleries (‘pictures,’ as I call them) and to see The Royal Ballet.

Do you have a favorite quote?
‘You can lead a horse to water, but if you can make it do the backstroke, then you’ve got something.’ (Woody Allen)

What is your favorite show on TV?
Sports programmes and cartoons mainly. And old-school UK TV comedies.

Would probably have to say Fawlty Towers and the old Sixties Batman TV series are my big favourites.

Favorite movie?
Life of Brian and Blazing Saddles. (I’m not big on movies, really.)

Favorite book?
Any by Terry Pratchett.

Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
Have always said Neil Armstrong, Bob Marley and the wee sod who stole the milk and newspaper from my doorstep this morning.

Is there a talent you wish you had?
I’d love to be able to play an instrument. Preferably bass guitar or drums. Both my boys played in touring bands – I have no idea from where they inherited the ability.

What’s something about you that would surprise us?
I’ve had a gun pointed at my face during a bank raid.

Describe yourself in 3 words!
Short, funny, punk

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Almost forgot about this book!

Just noticed this review, added to Amazon.com (USA) back in November.

(Five stars *****)
Excellent book
By Kerri Spiverson on 7th November 2017
Format: Paperback  / Verified purchase

 

This is a really quick read! It’s perfect for the beach or taking on an airplane. I found myself laughing out loud on several parts of this book. Definitely give this one a read!

 

Posted in Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee | 2 Comments

A Goan Adventure (?)

So, another adventure in Goa, India draws  to a close.

‘Adventure?’ Perhaps that’s an exaggeration. The word prompts thoughts of conquering the unknown; of searching out new experiences, or even perhaps legging it with an ancient relic tucked under your sweaty armpit whilst evading a multitude of jaggy-edged booby- traps, set by the Guardians of the Dead to a previously unknown civilisation.

In actual fact, the most exciting and adventurous thing I did, was bare my arse to a hitherto unknown Indian chap who promptly thrust an anti-biotic laden needle into the muscle mass of my glutes.

Being unwell on holiday is … well, a complete bummer.

Never-the-less, if you are going to be ravaged by a mucus-soaked chest infection, Goa is the place to be. You may well feel like shit, but you certainly won’t feel out of place since it seems every taxi driver you hire is partial to the odd roar of gargling phlegm.

And, on the plus side, should you fall victim to ill health, appropriate medication is easily had in the local village at the the rather decrepit looking pharmacy. And for a mere fraction of the price you’d pay in England, too.

Of course, with free prescriptions in Scotland, us Scots are outraged at having to pay 325/- (@ £4.22) for enough amoxicillin, levobalt, paracetamol, & cough syrup to undercut a chain-smoking Venezuelan drugs baron.

But needs must.

Most Goans speak English as well as their native Konkan, but the most effective means of conveying your illness to the dispenser, is to demonstrate your ailments. A simple cough, protruding your tongue or tearing slices of dead skin from you sunburnt forehead usually results in the grumpy, wizened old pharmacist scampering up an unstable ladder to reach the outer limits of his stock.

I will never fathom how he knows where to find a specific unbranded white box of drugs, incidentally each of whose name comprises a minimum sixteen letters and sounds like a Polish shot putter’s under arm deodorant . But he does, & that’s all that matters.

A word of caution though: active demonstration of Delhi Belly is to be discouraged. It’s considered rude and unnecessary in these parts, and rather than meds, you are only likely to be handed a shovel.

BUT THAT’S ALL BY THE BY.

Goa is a colourful and magical place. The Heritage Village Club at Arossim, its staff and guests, even more so. Nothing is too much trouble, and even though I effectively lost over half my fortnight holiday through feeling unwell, it was heartening to see how concerned and attentive the staff ( & fellow guests) were.

I thank you all. It’s been a pleasure spending the past two weeks with you. I will, of course, completely understand you not reciprocating the sentiment if come Tuesday, your wheezing lungs are similarly filled with green, sticky stuff.

So that’s it – I’m home in Scotland now. And still coughing.

Right now, though, I’m going to get some shut-eye. For tomorrow morning means an early start as I’ll be straight off down to Boots the Chemist, dropping my kecks and demanding a free jag in the bum.

Wish me luck.

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Gallot

In the absence of anything original to post, here’s a pretty weird but funny little short story from a geezer in the CLOG Group on Goodreads. It does contain a couple of wee swearies, but only to enhance the comedic effect.
Nice one, Andychap. 🙂
(I really must get the finger out and get back to this writing lark.)

Andrew Chapman @AndyChapWriter

Gallot

Gallot knew things. Ask him and he’ll confirm it.

“Gallot,” you’ll say, “I hear you know things.”

“What do you know?” he’ll likely reply.

Gallot was a simple man, in my opinion. He wore this weird coat that had too many pockets and only one sleeve. I think he found it in a charity shop. He told me once he traded his shoes for a pair of shoes. He never elaborated. The shoes he was wearing had holes in them.

The last time I saw him he was telling me about his job. I couldn’t believe he had a job. Turns out he’s a professional fool. He doesn’t get paid and he has no business card. What he does have is a deep frown line and a pet cat that looks a lot like a dog. If you were to ask me I would say it was a cocker spaniel…

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Foxes and Hares.

This is another thirty-year old effort that resurfaced when tidying my office.

(I’m sure I also caught a glimpse of Lord Lucan, but he legged it before I could ask him for ID.)

The poem was intended to draw a parallel between the blood-sports here in UK and the apartheid rule of South Africa at that time. Both issues have been addressed since, thankfully, and so the work is perhaps a bit dated. (I prefer to think of it as a ‘historical’ piece, now.) 😉
That said, I guess it’s still relevant in principal to any repressed people across the world.

(Image by Jackie Morris.)

FOXES & HARES

As the setting sun sank slowly at dusk,
Casting long, warm shadows that engulfed the dust,
The Hunters would return from the vast grassy plain,
Tired but happy their sacks filled with game.
Soon food-flavoured smoke would linger till light,
And the African Herdsman would sleep well that night.

Life then was so simple, free from worries and cares
For they were born to be free, like the foxes and hares.

The years flickered by and Time brought with it, Change.
And Time brought the White-Man, alien, strange.
And the White-Man was ‘civilised’ and so started a reign
Of torture and killings and anguish and pain.
And families were driven from homes lovingly made,
And The Herdsman was herded to start the slave trade.

They were used to being free in that Land that was theirs,
But now they were hounded, like the foxes and hares.

Where The Herdsman once lived off the fat of the land,
The White-Man now lives – The Herdsman’s been banned.
Banished to townships, ramshackle and crude,
Condemned to exist like no White Man ever could.
Found guilty of living, he’s been sentenced to die;
But though his body is broken, his spirits are high.

The Herdsman’s been captured in White-Man’s evil snares,
But he’s screaming and fighting, like those foxes and hares.

Chased and tormented by White-Man’s power lust,
Those Foxes and Hares are running, lungs fit to burst.
And the red-coated Huntsman sits high on his mount,
As his blood-thirsty hounds rip their victim’s heart out,
And while its terror-filled screams are heard here in UK,
“We’ll sort it, tomorrow,”  is all the politicians say.

And the public is outraged, but does anyone really care
About what exactly is happening to those Foxes and Hares?
_______________

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Slim Chance.

The things you find when clearing out your office!

(This was written many, many years ago for my wife’s Slimming Club, when she was expecting our second son. It’s a humorous but hopefully inspirational tale produced principally for women seeking to lose weight.)

Bloke readers also welcome, of course.

SLIM CHANCE.

‘Fat can be beautiful,’ or so I was told
As I undid my corsets and watched the ripples unfold.
But given the choice, I’d rather be lean,
An hour-glass figure was my ultimate dream.

But dreams turn to nightmares as we all know,
And this weight-losing business can really be slow.
So I bought some diet-biscuits to help me get slim,
They said on TV that they’re just the thing.

But after a month, I’d gained three more pounds!
I turned the air blue with cursing sounds;
I didn’t understand – how could it be
That such a dreadful thing be happening to me?

As the days dragged on, I grew more annoyed,
My life became empty- a proverbial void.
ANOTHER FOUR POUND INCREASE? This could not be real,
I’d eaten those biscuits after EVERY meal.

Ah. So that’s what went wrong. I’d now seen the light.
I gave up all stodge and continued the fight.
I resolved to try real hard, no cheating, then who knows,
This time next week, I could re-sight my toes.

But it didn’t work out, my toes stayed in the shade,
And I pondered exactly what mistakes I had made.
Matters got worse and sometimes I was ill,
Then it dawned what had happened – I’d forgotten my Pill!

I WAS PREGNANT!

I really was ‘in the club’ – and not a slimming one,
But it guaranteed a weight-loss second to none.
No exercise programme; no diet sheets needed
And seven months later my tummy receded.

Now eating for two is a hard habit to break,
But I tried to cut down for the housekeeping’s sake.
But like all ‘best-laid plans of mice and men’
It wasn’t too long till I was fat again.

Come bath-times, I looked like a beached baby whale
And all magazine diets were doomed to fail.
Obviously now, something HAD to be done,
Drastic measures to be taken – but which way to turn?

THEN A FRIEND SAID:

“Go try a slimming club, they’ll help you cope,”
So I wobbled on down, my heart filled with new hope.
“Please help me lose weight, I beseech. No, I BEG”
“No problem,” they laughed, “We’ll cut off a leg.”

All joking over, my statistics were taken,
The truth was out, there could be no faking.
“Cut out the chocolate and alcoholic drink,
And it won’t be too long till your tum starts to shrink.”

They suggested I take a more positive view
And in a few weeks there’d be compliments due.
But if friends start to laugh, think “Nuts to them all,
I’m not overweight, I’m just under tall.”

My stomach was rumbling – a real weird sensation,
But I would not give in to this evil temptation.
They advised me at meal-times don’t over indulge
And I’d soon have victory in this Battle of the Bulge.

And slowly but surely I began to lose weight,
First a pound, then five, and eventually eight.
It gradually got easier by doing as they taught
And not being discouraged by negative thought.

And within six weeks I’d shed a whole stone
And all carbohydrates were banned from my home.
My clothes no longer fitted, but it was small price to pay –
I liked the new me, and I was here to stay.

__________

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Inspiration or distraction?

Finally! I’ve tidied my office / writing room and now feel totally #inspiredtowrite.

I have however, for the first time in ages, now got the means of playing my vinyl and CD collection. I’ve also, for the first time ever, discovered the benefits of streaming music and Bluetooth speakers.

I even have a fridge full of beer.

Whether or not I actually get back to writing my new book tomorrow remains to be seen.

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