I’ve been asked by my fabulous friend, Jessica Redland, to take part in the Lovely Blog Hop where writers talk about some of the things which have shaped their lives and their writing. Jessica lives not far from me in Scarborough and we often meet up for cake and to talk about writing. Her first novel, Searching for Steven, a charming romantic comedy set in a fictional town on the Yorkshire coast is out on 3rd June and is available for pre-order here. You can read Julie’s blog here
Now as anyone who knows me well is aware I’m not all that good at sharing information about myself so the Lovely Blog Hop is a bit of tough one for me as it involves talking about myself. A lot. I’ll do my best but if I wander off a bit then I apologise in advance!
My first really clear memory is from when we moved to York when I was nearly 4. The day we moved into the new house our new next door neighbour walked up through the garden and knocked on the back door. It seemed like she was completely surrounded by girls and my Mum said ‘Are these all yours?’ Only two of them belonged to our neighbour. The other six or seven lived around and about. Our neighbour said, ‘does she want to come out to play?’ (I must have been too little for people to actually ask me a question) and Mum must have said ‘yes’ because that was it really. My parents say that I really only came home for meals and to sleep for the next five years or so. I spent the rest of my time out playing with the girls I met on that first day.
I’ve always loved books and my parents said that I was never hard to entertain once I’d learned to read (that could also have been because I was hardly ever at home!) I read Enid Blyton, as many pony books as I could get my hands on and all of the Swallows & Amazons series. My Dad still had his copies of those and they now stand proudly on my bookshelf waiting to be handed on to my nephew when he’s old enough.
In my twenties I read the classics and actually waded through War & Peace which took me almost a year. I adore Jane Austen and Persuasion is one of my all time favourites. These days I rarely have the energy for serious literature and read entirely for entertainment. At the moment I’m reading Stoner by John Williams for my book club and Jeremy Poldark by Winston Graham for a bit of light relief.
Mum and Dad took me to the library from a very early age and for a while in my teens I wanted to be a librarian. Somewhat to my regret, I grew out of that idea but I still think it would be a lovely job. The libraries in York have always been very good and have survived relatively unscathed from recent cuts. I’m extremely grateful for the huge range of books that they’ve been able to lend me whilst I’ve been writing Beltane and Lughnasa. From books about witchcraft and druids (which generated some interesting looks from the library assistants, I can tell you!) to tomes on the history of Glastonbury and the islands of Orkney they’ve hardly ever let me down.
What’s your passion?
Writing is my greatest passion but I’m going to talk about that later so I’ll have to find another one. Would Ross Poldark sound too shallow? Yes? Alright, I’ll try again…
I love folk music and going to folk gigs. I’m pretty obsessed with Orkney at the moment, does that count? Oh and I’m passionate about Yorkshire and will bang on about how amazing ‘God’s Own County’ is even though I’m not strictly speaking a true Yorkshire woman as I wasn’t actually born here.
I was a bit of a girly swot when I was younger. I got decent O’ levels, rather embarrassingly good A’ levels and a competent degree. I’ve always enjoyed learning and these days I get to impose my love of learning on students as I tutor at the university one day a week. The thing I’m really loving at the moment is seeing how my nephew and godson learn about the world. Nephew’s favourite word is currently ‘why’ and he simply will not give up. If you answer a question and he’s not happy with the reply then he’ll say ‘why’ again and again until you come up with something better. To be honest, he’s tougher to please than the undergraduates. At least with them I’m allowed to tell them to go away and look it up for themselves!
I tried to write my first novel when I was eight. It was a Famous Five type adventure with added ponies. I’m absolutely sure it was terrible but it was the start of my desire to write and I’ve known since then that I wanted to be a writer. I started writing seriously five years ago and I absolutely love it. I’m a much happier person since then. It’s a wonderful thing to have something in my life that I’m absolutely passionate about and makes me happy and it’s got me through some very testing times in the past few years. I’m currently taking a break from my second novel, Lughnasa to write a steampunk novella set in Whitby. With luck that will be ready to be published in the late summer.
This is the point where I’m supposed to hand over to another writer to take the Lovely Blog Hop forward but everyone I know has either already done it or is too busy. Instead I’m going to suggest that you might like to read Sharon Booth’s turn on the Lovely Blog Hop which you can find here. But if you’re reading this and thinking ‘I’d like a go at that Lovely Blog Hop’ then do please let me know and I’ll pass the (metaphorical) baton to you.
6 thoughts on “My turn on the Lovely Blog Hop”
Lovely post, Alys, and I always thought you were York born and bred. You made me laugh with your comments about Thomas, I remember that *why* phase with my two so well. I think I shouted “just because” on more than one occasion! x
Yes, sadly I was born in Cambridgeshire. Not that I’ve got anything against Cambridgeshire. It’s just that it takes a long time to be properly accepted by Yorkshire folk if you’re not born here. And very glad to know it’s not just me who finds the ‘why’ phase infuriating! Thanks for commenting xx
Thanks for taking up the baton, and what a lovely post. I’m loving the idea of you as a bewildered 4 year old surrounded by neighbourhood kids begging you to play the minute you moved in. What a great story. Are you still in touch with any of those children today?
I’ve never read Swallows & Amazons. Must rectify that xx
Not really in touch as we all grew apart as we grew up but the same next lady still lives next door to my parents so I see her two daughters occasionally. Thanks for commenting and sharing Alys xx
I have to confess, I was one of those children who always wanted to know “Why?” The amazing thing about my dad was that he always seemed to know the answer, though, of course, he probably made half of them up! Karma avenged him as my own children were always demanding to know why, too. I admit, I gave up a lot of the time and just answered “Because!”
Another Enid Blyton and pony book fan! We are kindred spirits. I’ll even forgive you for not being Yorkshire born, particularly as I know you share my passion for Poldark and The Musketeers.
Lovely post, Alys, and thanks for the mention! xx
You’re very welcome, Sharon. I’m sure it’s a sign of an enquiring mind to always want to know ‘why’. My sister never seemed to grow out of it. I remember her asking ‘why does the sea have salt in it?’ when she was about 8. That one foxed even my father, who like yours has always been very good at answering every question. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Alys xx