Today we travel to Wiltshire, UK to chat with Valerie Keogh about how being a nurse, the Trans Siberian railway, Cape Town, a donkey, anchovies, Star Trek, ice cream in Lynmouth, and pizza in Giudecca come together as part of Valerie’s past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m from Dublin but live in Wiltshire, UK, about 10 miles from Bath. I qualified as a nurse and worked as one until 2018 when I gave it up to write full time. I also, in my time, worked as a sales representative for a medical company. Plus I went to university as a mature student and obtained a BA in English and an MA in American Literature. I come from a family of 9, I’m the one below the middle child. I don’t have children but I’m slave to a fat cat called Fatty Arbuckle. I love to travel – many years ago, before I married, I took 3months off and travelled around the world, taking the Trans Siberian railway from Moscow to Beijing as the first step, then on to Australia, Fiji, Hawaii and to the US where I hired a car. I loved every minute. My current favourite places are Venice, India and Cape Town.
In which genre do you write?
I write crime and psychological thrillers. I’d like to write science fiction – some day.
How many published books do you have?
I currently have 15 books for sale on Amazon – five of which are independently published. Two are with Bookouture and the remainder with Bloodhound Books to whom I’m currently under contract.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I always wanted to be a writer but it wasn’t until I saw the headlights of 50 shining in my eyes that I realised if I didn’t stop dreaming about it and actually write that it would stay a dream. So I wrote a full length book, and when it was finished, I started the next. And I haven’t stopped writing since.
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?
The writing community – it’s an amazingly supportive, kind and generous community of people who all want to do one thing – write. I have made some really good friends some of whom I’ve been lucky enough to have met, and some of whom I may never meet but we are still good friends. Since writing, by its very nature, is a solitary occupation, having a network of like-minded people is invaluable.
List 3 interesting facts about yourself.
1. I’m an absolute coward – something I discovered the first time when on a mule ride in the Grand Canyon – I hung on to the poor mule’s mane and didn’t look left or right. Embarrassingly, on the mule in front of me was a very young girl who had no problems at all. I saw nothing of the scenery, just the back of the mules neck. I went on a huge roller coaster in Hong Kong many years ago because my husband Robert wanted to go – I screamed the whole way around despite never opening my eyes.
2. I absolutely love Star Trek – the original series, Generations and Voyager.
3. I’m a nightmare to invite for dinner – having been at a number of embarrassing meals where I couldn’t eat anything, I now forewarn the cook! And just in case anyone is going to invite me – I don’t eat melon, cucumber, green beans, sweetcorn, anchovies, olives, pickles, coriander, cheddar cheese, oysters or offal.
Star Trek fan, here! I love The Next Generation. I can’t wait for the next season of Picard! – Camilla
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
I watched an old favourite last night – Separate Tables- with the amazing David Niven and Deborah Kerr. A black and white movie – it has a host of other stars including Burt Lancaster and Rita Hayworth but it is David Niven’s part that is stunning – a part for which he won an Oscar. It’s a slowly paced movie that depends on subtle facial expressions, and impeccably delivered lines.
This looks interesting! I’m adding it to my watch list. – Camilla
Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?
Yes, I think they do – I am a great believer in Fate. Late 2017 I was fired from a nursing job, and was subject to an investigation by the nursing board – the case against me was dropped and I was cleared of any wrong doing but it was a very traumatic experience. During this time I decided, once again, to submit one of my books to a publisher. A few months later I signed my first publishing contract and several months later I gave up nursing for good.
If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
Dear Fatty Arbuckle – why do you run up the road when I know you want to come in, forcing me to come after you and pick you up and carry you back? And why do you always wait until I am curled up on the sofa before demanding to be let out? And finally, why do you like a brand of cat food one week, and turn your nose up at it the next?
What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?
Lynmouth in Devon is my current favourite place to visit and we go for a week every year. It has amazing walks along rivers, through woodland, on hilltops – some flat, some incredibly steep where I swear I’m never going again – till the next time. Wonderful ice cream, lovely restaurants. Blissful.
Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.
When we go to Venice we stay on the little island of Giudecca – there’s a restaurant there and you can sit looking across the Grand Canal to St Marks. This is where I would go – in August, around 8pm, so it’s still warm but the lights are starting to come on, and I’d sit there, drink red wine, eat a pizza, and probably think about the next book I’m going to write.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a psychological thriller which will be published by Bloodhound Books in Feb 2021.
Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.
My most recent book is also a psychological thriller – it came out in September. The Deadly Truth tells the story of Melanie, who is trying to make up for something in her past by living the best life she can. But she finds that her past is catching up with her.
It was wonderful to learn more about you and Fatty Arbuckle, and a pleasure to have you on MTA, Valerie. Sending you hugs, and wishing you all the best! – Camilla
Someone from her past wants to destroy her future…
When Melanie Scott is promoted to junior partner, she thinks she has put her past behind her and while out celebrating her promotion, she meets the handsome and charming Oliver Field.
Melanie has her doubts and is haunted by her mother’s critical voice, which reminds her that she’s messed up before. But when Oliver invites her for dinner, she buries her feeling and accepts his invitation.
She deserves the chance of happiness, doesn’t she?
However, the past she thought she left behind resurfaces when she receives an email containing a name; Anne Edwards. A name she thought she’d left behind.
When the emails escalate, she knows she has to find out who is behind them, but at what cost?
Melanie is about to learn that the past will now shape her future forever…
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