Meet the Author: People Who Hurt by Celia Micklefield

Today we welcome Celia Micklefield as we travel to Norfolk on the east coast of England to discover how writing short stories, growing vegetables, complex characters, narcissism, a barn owl, and curiosity are a part of the fullness of Celia’s human experience. Slip into the gardening shoes, let’s go …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My real name is Celia Smith but I write in my maiden name: Celia Micklefield. I used to think that was a good idea but now I know how difficult it is to fit such a long surname on the book cover!

I was born in the county of West Yorkshire in the north of England where folks call a spade exactly what it is. I’ve lived in Scotland, near Aberdeen, where for the most part I couldn’t tell what people were saying at all and for nine years I lived in southern France where my schoolgirl French improved considerably. Now I live in Norfolk on the east coast of England. It’s a wildlife wonderland with its inland waterways, wooded areas, windmills and quaint villages. I often use inspiration from nature in my short stories. That’s how I began: writing short stories for a UK women’s magazine. Since then I’ve published two short story collections, three novels and one non-fiction book. I’m currently working on my fourth novel with another two in the pipeline.

Leisure time is usually spent in my garden. I love growing vegetables but have to make sure the deer can’t get at them or they’d eat the lot.

In which genre do you write?

I suppose you could call my work Women’s Fiction but they’re all different.

How many published books do you have?

I have six self-published books. I used to have an agent but it didn’t work out so I went ahead by myself.

My first novel, Patterns of Our Lives, is a UK saga set partly during World War Two.

It’s essentially a multi-generational story about love and the sacrifices people make in its name.

My second novel, Trobairitz – the Storyteller is harder to classify. Trobairitz were female troubadours in France during the 12th and 13th centuries. My Trobairitz is a contemporary woman entertaining other truck drivers at an overnight stop in Languedoc by telling them a story. Her main character is an ex sex worker, now in her seventies who has a running battle with the current mayor of the village and his grandfather.

My third novel, The Sandman and Mrs Carter is a psychological mystery. Narrated by five main characters the story of Wendy Carter unfolds through their different points of view.

All my fiction is character-led. I love stories with multiple threads and complex characters with problems to solve. There’s usually a mystery woven in and maybe a tragedy or two. Life isn’t all sweetness and light so I hope to reflect the fullness of human experience in my work.

My two collections of short stories feature work that isn’t suitable for women’s magazines as they prefer, if not a happy ending, at least a hopeful one. Women’s magazines fiction tends to shy away from difficult subjects too but I love to jump into the dark stuff every now and then. In Arse(d) Ends you’ll find dark comedy, sexual harassment and sibling rivalry. In Queer As Folk the story Lemon Meringue captures sisterly love when one suffers from dementia, for example.

My sixth book, People Who Hurt is non-fiction. Part memoir, part informational the book outlines covert, passive aggressive narcissism and the abusive patterns of behaviour individuals with this personality disorder inflict on their partners. I make this book free as often as Amazon allows and I’m pleased to know it’s helping others realise that not all abuse is physical.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I’m slow. In everything I do I’m slow. In 2013 I was hit and knocked down by a careless driver. My bones mended but my central nervous system didn’t and I’m in pain all the time. My condition’s been diagnosed as CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) so on low pain days I write as much as I can. On other days my energy is used up by just getting up. It’s taken me a whole week to fill in this questionnaire. I can’t sit in one position too long or my muscles spasm and my joints lock. That’s how slow I am.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal or avatar and why?

The barn owl.

After I’d left the abusive relationship I lived with friends until the legalities were finalised. It took three years to get my money out of the property we’d bought together because of his delaying tactics and spurious claims against me. I began looking for a place of my own but was anxious it should be the kind of home where I could find peace.

As I drew up in preparation to park outside the cottage I wanted to view, a barn owl flew low over the roof of my car. I watched it fly down the lane ahead of me. Its wings were majestic, beating slowly, calmly. It wasn’t in any kind of rush. I felt it was an omen. If a beautiful creature like that was happy meandering along this country backwater then this was the place for me.

What does your ideal working space look like?

Ah, it’s beautiful. Deep in the forest there’s a hidden clearing beside a lake. Distant mountains rise in misty mauve beyond the tree line. There, like Snow White surrounded by cute animals, I sit in my cottage and the words flow like magic.

In reality I’m in the spare bedroom with my trusty iMac up against the window. I can see cute animals, though. Except for when they’re eating my vegetables. They’re not cute then!

What are you currently reading?

Currently I’m not reading anything other than research for my next book but I have The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan on my Kindle ready to begin.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Not a lot. I like a quiet life. But I do like visiting foreign countries when I’m able. I usually pay for it afterwards and have to rest but I love the Greek islands in particular. I can look at that turquoise water for hours!

If you could have a coffee date with an author from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’d choose Daphne du Maurier. I keep a copy of Rebecca near my work station to remind me of the power of character. I’d like to ask her what she’d change about the book for today’s readers.

Do you believe things happen for a reason?

I do now. Everything is a learning experience. I like to think we are spiritual beings having a human experience. If I hadn’t experienced loss, grief, betrayal, bereavement, etc. how would I know what it felt like? I want to write well about how these emotions affect my characters and the things they do. My research following time with an abusive partner opened my eyes to a hidden world of domestic abuse and it pleases me that my story is helping others in similar situations to come to an understanding of what happened to them.

Which of your personality traits has been the most useful and why?

I think I must name two things:

Curiosity. I have to look things up. I want to know the reasons, meanings, backstory, processes, outcomes etc. etc. I love learning. Very useful for writers.

Patience. Without it there’d be no number one!

What is your most recent work and what is your work in progress?

My most recent book is People Who Hurt and the link is above. My work in progress is A Measured Man, an unsentimental, passionless romantic comedy aimed at mature readers. At the rate I’m going it could be finished in 2020!

Please drop in and say hello at my website or facebook page. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thank you for being a part of MTA Celia. It was wonderful learning more about you and your writing style. –Camilla

Where to find Celia’s books:

People Who Hurt:

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZP5LaA

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/31dYw9C

Patterns of Our Lives:

getBook.at/POOL

Trobairitz:

getBook.at/TTS

The Sandman and Mrs Carter:

getBook.at/TSAMC

Arse(d) Ends:

getBook.at/AE

Queer As Folk:

getBook.at/QAF

Website: www.celiamicklefield.com and Celia has an author page on Facebook also.

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: One Hundred Miracles by Wendy Holden

Today we welcome Wendy Holden as we travel to Suffolk and learn what dogs, Goldie Hawn, Ganesh, a woodland cemetery, and The Wacky Races mean to Wendy. Slip on your gardening gloves. Let’s go …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a British author, originally from London but now living in Suffolk, three hours north east of London, near the sea. I was a journalist for almost 20 years, including time as a war correspondent, and have been writing books full time for 22 years. Have more than thirty titles published, ten of which are bestsellers.

In which genre do you write?

Non-fiction historical and war biographies mostly but also fiction, humour, celebrity memoirs and novellas. I have written two bestselling books with the actress Goldie Hawn and I wrote Lady Blue Eyes with Frank Sinatra’s widow Barbara.

I also love to write about dogs, who are one of my great passions. I wrote the number one bestseller Haatchi & Little B, about a disabled boy and his three-legged dog, and Uggie: My Story, about the canine star of the Oscar winning movie The Artist. I also wrote Mr Scraps, the little dog with the big heart, a novella about a dog caught up in the London Blitz –

How many published books do you have?

Thirty-two, most of which are listed on my website –  www.wendyholden.com

         

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I always wrote poems and kept a diary but wrote my first school play when I was six years old. It was called The Queen’s Birthday Cake and featured a naughty knave who switched the baker’s flour for cement so that the Queen broke a tooth when she bit into it.

The play won a schools’ competition and was put on by the drama students so my career path was set. It was not as if I ever had a choice. Writing comes as naturally to me as breathing.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I’ve worked with Goldie Hawn who introduced me to meditation and to the Indian elephant god Ganesh, who is said to remove obstacles on your life’s path.

Twice a day, I stop writing and meditate for 10 minutes, slowing my breathing (and my thoughts) and then I rub my little Ganesh’s feet for good luck.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

My two adorable German wire-haired pointers, Eli and Huxley.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

The one I work in now – upstairs in our 17th century oak-beamed cottage with green-painted walls. I write at my grandfather’s leather-topped desk with my father’s oak desk to one side and am surrounded by the framed book jackets, photos, cartoons and art that mean the most to me.

What are you currently reading?

Educated by Tara Westover and The Pianist of Yarmouk

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Walk the dogs on the beach, read, garden, cook, entertain friends, travel, and paint.

If you could have a fantasy tea date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women whose character Jo I immediately identified with. I have been to her house in Concord, Massachusetts, and see the tiny table where she sat and wrote longhand and I would love to invite her to tea and ask her how a young woman with very little life experience from a rural background was able to conjure up such vital, life-changing characters.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

How much of myself comes out in the books I write, even when they are about other people. There is something of everyone in each of us and when you really focus on someone you often realise that the nature of the human condition is universal.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done in researching for a book?

I found myself deep in a woodland cemetery in rural Poland on the edge of dark hunting for the grave of someone I was writing about in quiet desperation. I found it just as the light was fading and then had to feel my way back to the car and civilisation.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary?

I did up until my teens but I found that I have such a visual memory so that I no longer needed to.

What is the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Meeting my husband and accepting his marriage proposal three weeks later. I was 19 and we have been happily married ever since.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking and what do you do to prepare yourself?

I do ten minutes deep breathing to clear my mind of clutter. I remind myself to talk slowly and take deep breaths in the pauses. If I were to listen to any music it would be Paul Simon’s Late in the Evening and I would have a dance to loosen myself up.

What do you miss about being a kid?

My dearly departed parents who were my greatest champions and blessed me with a happy childhood, from which I emerged feeling invincible.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

The Wacky Races. I wanted to be Penelope Pitstop, but I also loved Mutley.

If you write non-fiction or memories, what fictional character would you invite into your story and why?

Jo from Little Women so that I could spend time with her and tell her how much she inspired me as a girl.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

Tolkien. It was on locally and we went because I love films about writers. I was much more impressed than I’d expected and gave real insight into his life and inspirations without hardly mentioning The Hobbit (of which I am not a great fan). It is a lovely, well-rounded film.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

He escaped from the local zoo when his keeper went for ice cream and accidentally left the gate open, so the penguin waddled off down the road looking for something to eat.

At the seaside, he accidentally caused a commotion outside one of those stores that sells everything from joss sticks to water pipes, backed into a hat stand and a sombrero dropped onto his head.

Hardly able to see, he staggered on and – lifting his beak – detected the unmistakable scent of fish. Padding up to my front door, he tapped his beak on it and made his little penguin cry so I opened the door with a fillet of sole in my hand.

Before I knew it, he had snatched it from fingers and gobbled it down in one. He has lived with me ever since. We have called him Charlie because he looks and walks like Charlie Chaplin in his little penguin suit.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I always have and I always will. Whenever one door closes for me, another opens, often taking me in a direction I never expected and which excites and challenges me.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

Why don’t you ever get a cold?
What do you dream of when you twitch and whimper?
Why can’t you live as long as us?

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Resilience and fearless optimism

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Suffolk, England, which is why we moved here having had no previous connections. Endless beaches. Huge skies. Fabulous stars. Great seafood. Lovely people. Old-fashioned atmosphere. What’s not to like?

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

Umbria, Italy. Early autumn. Watching the sun set over the golden hills and ripened vineyards with a chilled glass of prosecco in my hand.

Tell us about your most recent book.

I have three books out this year:

A relaunch of my novel The Sense of Paper. A Novel of Obsessions, it is set in Suffolk and is full of passion, secrets and lies. Please see the trailer —

One Hundred Miracles, a memoir of music and survival with Zuzana Ruzickova, published by Bloomsbury UK and several European publishers. The remarkable story of a Holocaust survivor and internationally renowned musician who not only lived through the war but under Communist ant-Semitic rule for decades. This is my first Holocaust book since writing my international bestseller Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance and Hope

   

A Woman of Firsts, the woman who built a hospital and changed the world with Edna Adan Ismail, to be published in this month. The story of the ‘Muslim Mother Teresa’, an indomitable force of nature who survived great hardship and civil war only to return to her ravage country and create something wonderful.

Thank you Wendy for being a part of MTA. It was incredibly interesting to learn more about you, your history, and writing style. I am a Goldie Hawn fan, as well as having a mindfulness and meditation practice. I found your interview to be deeply moving. And, oh my goodness! I LOVE the short story you created with the penguin question! Thanks again! –Camilla

Where to find One Hundred Miracles:

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/31xG9wc

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/31v9VSm

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Book Shelf: Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change

Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron

Another great book! I always find such meaningful content in Pema Chodron’s books. – “Living Beautifully”

“Let the power of your emotions open you up … Take your seat in the middle of your home ground and rouse your confidence – your innate capacity to open to your experience.”

Book Information:

Is it possible to live well when the very ground we stand on is shaky? Yes, says everyone’s favorite Buddhist nun, it’s even possible to live beautifully, compassionately, and happily on shaky ground—and the secret is: the ground is always shaky. Pema shows how using a traditional Buddhist practice called the Three Vows or Three Commitments, offering us a way to relax into profound sanity in the midst of whatever non-sanity is happening around us. Just making these simple aspirations can change the way we look at the world and can provide us with a lifetime of material for spiritual practice.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2SRLL1q

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Yoio7P

Book Love: Visiting Feelings

Visiting Feelings by Lauren Rubenstein

Great and very basic book about emotional connection and mindfulness. Perfect for kids with a useful parent section too!

“If you listen to what your body can say, you’ll find that your feelings are really okay. With a bit of attention, a little more care, they might even tell you why they are there. Some feelings are tough, and some are more fun …. So whenever a feeling comes by to play, welcome it in, and let it stay for as long as it likes, …. Treat your feelings like friends, talking to you.”

Awesome!!!

Book Information:

Do you have a feeling that’s visiting today?
Can you open your door and invite it to play?

Visiting Feelings harnesses a young child’s innate capacity to fully experience the present moment. Rather than labeling or defining specific emotions and feelings, Visiting Feelings invites children to sense, explore, and befriend any feeling with acceptance and equanimity. Children can explore their emotions with their senses and gain an understanding of how feelings can lodge in the body, as conveyed by common expressions like “a pit in the stomach” or “lump in the throat.”

Children can cultivate this emotional intelligence and nurture a sense of mindfulness. In essence, mindfulness is tuning into yourself and paying attention to the present moment without judging or analyzing what you are thinking or feeling. Practicing mindfulness can enhance many aspects of a person’s well-being, help develop insight and empathy, and enhance resiliency.

Taking the time to practice mindfulness as a family is a remarkable gift for parents to give to their children, and will help children as they navigate the teen years and adulthood.

Includes a “Note to Parents” to provide more information about emotional awareness, and suggests ways to seamlessly incorporate mindfulness practices into your child and family’s daily routines.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Emsuz1

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2VDp5l0