Book 3 – Out soon.

Am Beggar-Poor Again Cover

After losing his wife and daughter: oppressed by the political climate, and worried he may be conscripted by the Nazis, Doctor Thomas Friedrich Schmidt enlists in the Wehrmacht Medical Corps at the start of World War II. His main focus in life is to care for the wounded troops, but is unable to come to terms with what is happening around him: the suffering of the Jews: the fruitless loss of life, and the thousands of wounded soldiers who arrive on the hospital trains from the Eastern Front. The years of conflict leave Thomas war-weary, and being one of the occupiers in an occupied country has its problems, especially when his conscience is constantly pricked. But things begin to change when he meets an Englishwoman in France.

I just love my 3rd book cover. I’ve liked all my book covers as they say something about my novels. But this one, I think, is awesome. This book has been many years in the making, with me spending a lot of time researching an era when I wasn’t even a twinkle in my parents’ eyes. My father was a Bevin boy during the war, and tried, on many occasions, to enlist, but was always refused saying he was doing vital war work. If they had conscripted him I may not be here today writing about an era that fascinates me. My mother worked in one of biggest armaments factories alongside my grandmother. The MOD factory was still there when I was a teenager, but like most things, places shut down: like the pit next door to it where both my twin uncles started work when they were 14 years old. Now the whole area is a huge retail park. My father hated life down the pit, but spent the rest of his life working with coal as a heating engineer stoking some of the biggest boilers I have ever seen.

I suppose you could say I write historical fiction as my first novel was set in the 80’s and the second spanned the mid-forties to the late 80’s. I was greatly influenced by the 50’s and the 80’s, two significant times in history when life changed drastically. I might be giving away my age, but I am as young as the man I feel: whoops, giving away too much again. But thinking about it, coal was a large part of life until the mid 80’s. I recall, during the school holidays, taking my 3 children on a days’ outing to historic Hardwick Hall which sits on the borders of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. I still get angry when I think about being stopped on the slip-road, coming off the M1 motorway, by a group of uniformed policemen who looked into my car to see if I was transporting pickets during the coal-miners strike. I had three small children on the back seat. They were unruly sometimes, yes, but didn’t look anything like flying pickets to me. I was really riled by this intrusion into my freedom to cross county borders. It was like check-point Charlie in Berlin. Really, I kid you not.

Anyway, back to the book. Orson Scott Card, the American novelist who wrote in several genres but is best known for science fiction, and the film Ender’s Game – must say here I am not a fan of sci-fi and never read it – but he said something to the effect we all walk by stories every day, but only writers see them, other people don’t. When I was about 8 an aunt, who was born and brought up on a farm in Lincolnshire; a county which during the war heaved with RAF bases and POW camps, had a younger sister who met and married a German POW while working on their farm. They came to visit us one day in the city. My father was tall, 6′ 2″, but this man was taller and had a shock of curly ginger hair – you can guess what his nick-name was – there is a character loosely based on him in the book. But meeting this POW stayed with me, and I can still vividly see the adults in our front room talking animatedly to each other. I wasn’t aware of the word discrimination at that time, and that after the war there was still a lot of anti-German feeling about. But this one tiny flash-back brought about Am Beggar-Poor Again.

To get inside a German character I had to understand their country and their history. So my first port of call was a local German language class, taught by a young male German. We all liked the group so much we stayed for six years. I am not a natural linguist, none of us were in the class, but I learned how to get by when making several visits to Germany before the wall went down. The language can appear blunt and to the point, unlike ours which can be ambiguous at times. But I think we all stayed because of the get-together afterwards. We were drinking Jaeger-bombs well before this generation of party-goers.

Then I deftly killed two birds with one stone by reading modern German literature for my Masters. Heinrich Böll showed me what immediate post-war life was like for Germans. And along with others, like Thomas Mann, Heinrich Heine, Berthold Brecht and many, many more, I got a true flavour of the German people and their country. The title, by the way, is taken from one of Heine’s poems.

Harking back to my last post and something Truman Capote said: I would point out I have nurtured my 3rd child for many years. I am now ready to take it out into the back yard and shoot it. I feel ready to hand it over to Kindle, and to you.

Clock watching


Below are just a few quotes from poets and authors I found as I trawled through Google one morning. I can relate to them all.

If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer. – David Brin.

First find out what your hero wants, then just follow him. – Ray Bradbury

If you are destined to become a writer, you can’t help it. If you can help it, you aren’t destined to become a writer. The frustrations and disappointments, not even to mention the unspeakable loneliness, are too unbearable for anyone who doesn’t have a deep sense of being unable to avoid writing. – Donald Harington

A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer. – Joseph Conrad

Begin with an individual, and before you know it you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find you have created – nothing. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Literature is all, or mostly, about sex. – Anthony Burgess

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil—but there is no way around them. – Isaac Asimov

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any. – Orson Scott Card

Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it. – Truman Capote

There is one more quote which is from an unknown writer, who says: stories don’t end on the last page any more than they begin on the first. 

Been AFKB but IB and AH for now.

100_0400I sometimes wish I could permanently write from a Caribbean abode similar to Ian Fleming’s Goldeneye, looking out over a white, fine, sandy beach and a calm blue sea, with no one else around, perhaps only a servant. No mobiles, just the sound of the sea and the clonking of an Imperial typewriter. KNIM?

I have lately gotten to wondering if male writers have the same problems as I: demands by family, and the routine of having to shop, cook, clean, wash, iron, pick up grandkids/kids from school, take them to the orthodontist. I know some of you will be saying, “I go out to work a proper job.” “Well, so did I,” will be my retort: for 25 years, and I brought up 3 children at the same time, so there: yeeeees. I am at this point fisting, sorry, wrong word, I mean I am putting my fist in the air and pulling down my arm. You get the picture, unless you’re freaking out with that fisting image. I may have just FUBB.

I am a woman writer, as you have probably already guessed from my author picture, unless you think it’s a man in drag, looking, as my eldest says, like Hyacinth Bucket, which is mild considering he usually calls me Atilla the Hun. Looking through my photo albums I came up with zilch: nada: only the one above taken in the sculpture garden of the Skissernas Museum in Lund, southern Sweden, which I believe was modelled on me, last year, on a boozy night out. 6Y or 7K? or are you saying BTDT?

And where is this leading? you might be asking. Well, it takes me loosely on to a few nights ago when I saw Miranda Hart at the Nottingham Arena in her one woman show. She was fabulous: well worth seeing: her next stop was the O2 Arena in London. She was very funny and a keen observer of people. But, learned something new that night. Now, those of you who have been following me – sounds like stalking doesn’t it, but I can’t find another word for it – could say ‘blogging me’, but that sounds like something you do on a beach, or in a park. Anyway, most of you will know by now what a technophobe I am. Well, Miranda – yes we’re on first name terms and knows me as Aunty Pat – but that is another story I will drop at an opportune moment, like Tom Jones does every week on The Voice. There is no singer, living or dead he has not sung a duet with. Must mention here, though, Miranda and I are not related. But my mother did go and see Tom Jones once, taking my baby brother with her: he was about eleven at the time. He came away scarred for life: all those knickers flying towards the stage, and one pair belonging to our mother: OMG.

Back to Miranda. Part of her act was about text speak and the way youth express themselves these days. As I have said before I have to ask for a translation if my grandchildren text me. But I was not prepared for WTF. I thought they were referring to something similar to the World Wildlife Fund, but I could never quite work out what the T stood for. LOL all round at my expense when I told my family I now understood the meaning.

As I will be leaving most of my family behind; flying off to Sweden day after tomorrow, and by the time this blog is posted I will not be sitting looking out on Caribbean sea and sand, but at a kitchen table on the ground floor of an apartment block which is inhabited by another son, who is free and single. It’s a rather large apartment, with a small garden and decked patio where we can sit on hot days. The Swedish people are very out-doorsy, one flash of the sun and off comes their kit. But as my baby brother said to me last night, you can always tell an Englishman abroad. At the time he was referring to a stag night in Amsterdam, years ago, when one of the guys he was with visited a brothel, but didn’t realise he was lying stark-bollock naked, flat on his back on an examination couch with a naked woman on top of him, both displayed for all to see, in a shop window.  And yes, he had kept his socks on. TMI?

Back to Hyacinth. I have decided to have a few photos taken by family members in the hope I can be air-brushed, but I, personally, will be going nowhere near the computer, I will get someone else to do it, as is my usual want. Hope you have enjoyed our little sojourn as much as I did: brought back some memories which really should remain dead and buried. But it’s B2W. So OO and EOT.