A Very British Blog Post

Web friend Vikki just did this post after being tagged on it back in March. She didn't tag anyone, but I'm claiming the blog tour based on some tenuous links.

This is a blog tour for British writers. I'm not quite sure who originated it, there is no linky sign up, and perhaps no tagging. If relevant to you, feel free to claim the tour and tell your blog readers about your own Britishness and writing. Leave a comment to tell me, and I'll come read.

Firstly, I'm not actually British, but I am from the commonwealth, my flag holds the Union Jack, I used to make an oath to Queen Elizabeth in my primary school assemblies, my educational years were identical to that of my British husband's, my grandparents were Scottish, my husband is English, and my daughter was born and brought up for her first eight years in England. And I've apparently returned down-under with a misleading mash up of a Cambridge dialect with some kiwi R-Rollings, aye?

Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?

I was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but at six weeks old, I was sent down to the top of the South Island to be adopted. I lived in small town New Zealand until moving to the big smoke and Capital City, Wellington, for a career change. There I met an Englishman, and eventually moved across to live in his home county of Cambridgeshire, an hour's commute north of London.

At the moment we now live on the North Shore, above Sydney, Australia. We as yet have not taken the hour plus commute across town to visit the famous Bondi Beach, although ironically my visiting inlaws can claim to have done Bondi.

As a family, we move and transfer following job offers, so there's no telling if we will remain here until retirement, or move back somewhere. Personally, it takes me years to feel at home in a place, and at this point, I still suffer from feeling a little homesick for Britain – yes, even disregarding the dismal weather back there.

Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at present?

I followed career offers for several decades. This includes having worked in corporate Wellington, New Zealand – a job that took me to work in Melbourne, Australia, and briefly in Dublin, Ireland. In Britain, I worked at two different jobs which had me working and commuting through to Peterborough (Cambridgeshire), North Hampton, and my favourite – London.

Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?
Before settling down, I did what many New Zealanders and Australians do – something termed the 'Big OE' or overseas experience. Mine didn't involve working in Britain, however, but I did travel across Europe and spent weeks in London, and touring Scotland, Northern Ireland and Dublin. At the time, perhaps because I travelled alone, I found London noisy, dirty and underwhelming.

After living for over a decade above London, and working in it intermittently, my impressions have changed. I wouldn't want to permanently live there – I'm a country girl at heart – but I love the theatre, the squares, the true multi-culturism of London. The Black Cabs, the double-decker buses hurtling around too tight corners, and the Parks. The Museums, the cafes and the fog.

On a different note, I lived in a small country village running through an area in Cambridgeshire called 'The Fens' (flat agricultural country as far as the eye can see). The Meridian Line (which you can step over at Greenwiche, London) ran across the village High Street footpath just across from our small back yard. We stepped over it everytime we went into the chemist shop. The local bakery was celebrating its 250 year old birthday. The local town, the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, held an 800 plus year old Market Fair annually. The fen road into town was built on top of an old Roman road, and still had Roman posts marking it. My husband's family came from an area up North that had been conquered by Vikings and Romans ( and very nearly the Germans) at various times, and had a history of fairies, and other folklore.

I come from a country barely quarter of a century old in the history books. Anywhere in Britain can provide a favourite place, if I looked around.

Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?
The thriller series I am working on is set in Britain. The first few books are set in Liverpool – basically because that's where a specific university course of study is available. The series will later move to London (New Scotland Yard) with some specific locations through Cambridge and the Fens, because those are the areas I know well. I am considering taking the series across to Sydney, Australia, also – again, because I know it. But firstly, Britain.

Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish – about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?
Each country's people's have certain mythical characteristics about them. Kiwis are meant to be friendly and hardworking but also a little relaxed about things (the opposite in some ways to the stereotypical English lips), Aussies have lately got a reputation through some tourist surveys of being arrogant, unfriendly and unhelpful. I was aware of the British lip hardiness, but when I first arrived there, never found it. I was welcomed by new family, workmates, most people. I definately struggled to make any true friends over there, but you can say the same here in Australia – cliques and familiarity take place where-ever you go.

In my profoundly British middle-class inlaws I would suggest I came closest to finding the stiff upper. Until encountering a kiwi daughter-in-law, they had always been fearful of traveling outside of their own country. Even now, certain medical complaints that have come with their older ages, are dealt with stoically, with little emotion. But that's also a generational thing, because their off-spring are extremely emotional, and more prone to grumbling and demanding from the government, and from retailers, They'll kill me if I they ever read that, too. Stiff upper lips aren't that bad a thing.

Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?
Possibly the oldest of my characters, an esteemed university professor, and his wife, hold the stiff upper lip syndrome. They don't moan, or protest. In fact, Barton enjoys prancing around with a cane, finding it puts off his opponents for a little time. Being younger, the rest of my characters are hopefully a little more rounded, and several could be considered bulldoggish.

Q. Tell us about one of your recent books

I have a six book series in mind for my psychological thrillers based on two female characters. I have completed the first draft of Book 1, but set that aside for a structural revision. I am into the second revision pass of Book 2 of the series, which requires some character redevelopment. Books 4 and 5 have also partially been written and sit awaiting revision.

Q. What are you currently working on?
See above. I am revising Book 2 entitled Blue Popcorn. I am also working on some flash fiction. In the background is another book outside of the genre.

Q. How do you spend your leisure time?
I hold weekends for my small family. My daughter has many extra-cirricular activities, so my working week finds me taxi-ing her to and from school and sports practice. Inside of school hours I can write and read, a luxury I make use of. Weekends are spent being a sports mum, shopping, and trying to fit in some family activities – going to the beach, the movies, the dog park, the city sometimes.

Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?
Given I began work on a British based thriller series, and now live in Australia, I guess the jury may not struggle with this one. I also intend indie-publishing. Australia uses the U.S. Amazon.com, and the way my author platforms and social media have really opened up my internationalism, so I am truly having to think about a more global audience than initially planned for.

Q. Can you provide links to your work?

No. I'm aware that I need to get something out pretty soon, but my own learning process is still highlighting how to make my storytelling stronger, so I want the time to make a good debut novel. The answer will probably be found in the publication of one or two short or flash fiction anthologies as a taster for my fiction. Coming your way, hopefully very soon.

Your turn…

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