It’s quite alarming how the World Wide Web Works. This interview was recently requested out of the blue, and more eerily was sent to an old email address and domain which hasn’t existed for over a year. It arrived in my normal inbox. A kind of ouija, message from The Beyond. The Other Side (of the Atlantic).
I was reading John Doppler’s (Alliance of Independent Authors) post on book titles this morning and realised I had never checked whether Come In From The Cold had been used before. Happily not, as the book cover has been designed and paid for!
Then checked my next book’s title which I think is just PERFECT. ‘Colour Blind’ which is about a girl going blind from Retinal Dystrophy who smells in colour (Associative Synesthesia) and whose career and business is to do with colour. I was in a complete panic! However, that appears not have been used either, but I now feel I’d better get on with both books before someone else has the same idea.
My second novel, Come In From The Cold, is on its way. Slowly. I am quite a fast writer now (only 3 years on this one, compared with 25 years for Dolphin Days.)
It’s the editing that takes the time …… and the husband, of course.
On March 26, 2019, I featured on Suzanne Adair’s Relevant History Guest Post. The posts are all about the interesting pieces of history that you were never taught in history class. So to read horrific things about the Arctic Convoys to Russia in World War 2, visit her blog (www.SuzanneAdair.net/blog).
Here is a little synopsis for ‘Come In From The Cold’, which is set mainly in Wester Ross in Scotland. Those of you who know that we have a cottage here will understand how the local history has intrigued and motivated me to discover more.
During World War 2, John Elliott, an RNR officer on convoys to Russia from Scotland, is billeted on nineteen-year-old Mhairi. After his children die in a bombing raid, John is killed on convoy, leaving his wife pregnant. Mhairi is also pregnant, but by John or by the rape of dangerous and manipulative Archie? Mhairi is suspected, but not convicted, of Archie’s murder.
After the birth of her son, the condemnation of the community and her violent father’s return from war combine to drive her to a new life and loveless marriage.
In 2012, Annie Devereux, divorced and humiliated as a barren wife, retreats to Scotland to research John Elliott, her step-grandfather. Meeting David, a widowed father, and grandson of Mhairi, friendship and attraction develop as they search for answers, including the answer to a death seventy years previous. Past and present secrets combine to threaten them both.
I was recently interviewed about how I write, and although I didn’t expect to be quoted, let alone have my comments published in full, it was. How flattering is that, except that I am rather ashamed to admit to my chaotic writing habits.
You can see the interview here
But this is the result of my odd writing habits.
Out of the corner of my eye I see a rapidly moving furry object loping down the lawn (not a lawn, a large area of sphagnum moss). I hurl the laptop over, followed by the Arch Lever file and a spray of loose chapter paper, ungum myself from pillows, sheet, blankets and eiderdown (duvets are another subject) grab the tablet, find Camera, wait for focus.
Pine marten has obviously gone long since.
I shriek for husband, rush to sitting room, and there in the far distance is a dark speck loping up the track, then turning sharp left into the heather to disappear on the moor. Again.
I know that no-one is going to believe that we have our very own pine marten with a regular morning commute across our peat bog unless he is captured on camera. Even the husband looks doubtful.
‘Are you sure it wasn’t a cat?’ he says. As if there was a cat within twenty miles of remote bothy.
‘I’ve heard pine martens have a habit of coming down chimneys and wreaking havoc inside.’ I say. ‘Are you sure there’s a cowl on the chimney?’
I catch him later standing in the bog in the snow and inspecting the chimney.
My lovely book group is full of poets. As we nestle down in the pub, taking up large amounts of space and taking in large amounts of alcohol, I am aware that writing novels is not conducive to sharing production on a monthly basis, unlike those poets who wrote an entire oeuvre this morning. And those oeuvres are sad, or hilarious, or clever or just plain dotty, but they are complete.
‘Where was I?’ I say, having lost the post-it note which said ‘Read (past, not present, tense) to book group up to here’. There is then a confused babble of inaccurate memory, and I am truly embarrassed at having to recap my love story to those who were not there last month, and to the ones who weren’t there two months ago. Anyway, I can only read at most one quarter of a chapter if I am not to hog the time which must be divided between eleven aspiring scribblers. Yes, poetry is the way forward.
I think I never did blog that my one and only oeuvre was published in December. I’m supposed to market this thing, so it’s called
DOLPHIN DAYS and it’s by CHARLOTTE MILNE
How many more sales will that bring me? By the way, friends and family, thank you for buying or downloading. And thank you, thank you for reviewing. And thank you, thank you, thank you for 4 stars not 5. 5 stars for a debut novel? They can only be from faithful kind friends or family.
It was the evening that the definitive, complete, no more fiddling, final, edited version of Dolphin Days was to be uploaded to Amazon Kindle. We had celebrated with a superb bottle of Chateau Lynch Bages and a shared rib-eye steak (which Sir cooks to bleeding perfection). Oh dear, should have known this was a precursor to disaster. Sir takes the last enormous glass of claret towards the coffee table to watch the 10 o’clock news, waves a congratulatory arm to the fairly sober wife at the laptop, and trips. About a pint (magic glasses) of rich red claret describes a graceful Dolphin shaped arc over the sitting room. This is the moment when you press STOP, then REWIND.
Really, the brain is extraordinary and surely no computer could calculate in a fraction of a second:
a) how many rolls of kitchen towel there are in the flat and where,
b) How much the pair of pale blue and turquoise faux silk curtains cost 5 years ago and what they might cost now.
c) Could we cut the carpet 6 feet in and replace it. Oh no. Matching that particular beige would be impossible. How about a pale turquoise carpet? I’ve always wanted one. And just the sitting room, or the entire flat?
d) Instructions for Sir. Kitchen towel. Large bowl of warm water, pile of tea towels, all towels that aren’t white. WHITE WINE. Salt. Bicarbonate of Soda.
e) Where did I find the tips for removing red wine stains from carpet the last time this happened?
f) Why is Sir lying flat on his face flapping like a fish out of water and not getting the WHITE WINE to pour on the red wine? Because he has fallen over and is jammed between the coffee table (which is a large and heavy chest packed with games for the grandchildren) and the sofa.
g) Why is there MORE red wine soaking the carpet under his nose? Because his nose is bleeding like a full bottle of claret lying on it’s side with no cork, and OMG, what is his daily Warfarin dose?
h) Instructions for Sir. Keep tea towel firmly gripped to nose. Do not bleed.
There is a hiatus while I blot, dilute, blot, dilute, blot. Unjam husband from between chest and sofa and get him vertical. Scream for WHITE WINE. He brings large green box with a tap while holding tea towel to nose. I pour contents liberally over the faux silk curtains and about 2 square metres of carpet before looking at the now empty box and reading PERRY.
Do I know Perry? Did I buy it? Is it white wine? Does it take the stain out? No to all of that, but I do know who DID buy it, thinking it was white wine.
More hiatus while I dilute, blot, dilute, blot. We have now run out of all towels, coloured, white or paper, and the bath is full of damp, pinky/Perryish terry.
By Sunday the book is still not uploaded, we have no curtains on the windows as they are laid out damply on the kitchen floor with claret/water/Perry marks all over them. The carpet underlay has stained in an enormous dark brown ring surrounding blood and red wine and we are due to fly to Scotland early tomorrow for three weeks.
Due to be uploaded this weekend to Amazon Kindle and published on 1st December. You’ve all been waiting YEARS for me to shut up about this book, and the moment has come. All proceeds to the charity “An African Dream” – well, all donations, You can pre-order it (what a thrill) and tell all your friends to go buy…
Here’s what it’s about…
If she can’t handle failure, will she ever learn to handle success…
Artistic young antique dealer Melissa fails to recover a precious Byzantine manuscript stolen from her in Greece. Instead she finds herself accused of theft by wealthy architect Nicholas.
Struggling with financial disaster, a dangerous attraction to an embittered Nicholas, and guilt over a family tragedy, Melissa sets out on a new career path in design and illustration.
But it seems that Nicholas has not only destroyed her career as an antique dealer, but that his unwanted interventions may wreck her new plans too.
Determined to put the past behind her, Melissa is tempted to trade her talents and career for the security of marriage to kind, devoted David, but as she gets to know Nicholas better, her resolve wavers.
Will she overcome her lack of confidence, build her career and find the love she longs for?
On our flight out at 7.10 a.m. to where my sweat-stickied fingers stick to a sticky keyboard, we were given (by BA) a very hot bacon bap as breakfast. The entire aircraft was abuzz with adjectives which floated up and down the cabin: ‘delicious’, ‘damned hot’, ‘sensational’, ‘yummy’, ‘ouch’, ‘bestest’, and many another surprised and appreciative exclamation.
Much tastier than reheated scrambled eggs, easier with fingers instead of bendy plastic non-cutty knives and a pleasant way to start our day.
HOWEVER, I do have a major complaint. With our coffee (at this distance in time I have no recall as to whether it was palatable, but I think so) we were given a ’stick’ of Freshways British Farm Assured Milk, to be precise Dairystix semi skimmed milk uht. The offending item made me so cross that I took the wrapper with me on disembarking in order to vent my angst with real quotes from a real Dairystix.
At one end of Dairystix is a little red dot dot dot line and a sort of arrow to tell you where and in which direction to tear it in order to access the contents. Then just below, some fierce instructions:
HOLD FIRMLY HERE
TEAR ACROSS AND DOWN
I don’t know that I need to tell you the end of this story as you will have already guessed it. Broken fingernails (smart pink holiday nail polish gone for a burton), front teeth nearly ripped from gums, back teeth not nearly sharp enough, nail scissors in security bin at airport, husbands teeth too blunt as well, milk wrapper stretched and warped and twice as wide as when it started but as completely sealed as a submersible at 2,000 feet below sea level.
Of course, we could have drunk our coffee black, but I do hate to be beaten. Eventually we got a few splashes in the now tepid cup, which very nearly went flying in the wrestling match. The rest went down my front so that I looked like a 70 year old lactating mother.
But the bacon butty was very good.
And this is my daughter-in-law on having met with no understanding