Today I am delighted to introduce you to fellow author Jan Gordon, who writes under the name Melanie Mole. Melanie grew up in a tiny village in the wonderful countryside in England. Long walks with her dogs in beautiful scenery and winding country lanes gave her time to think and dream. Most of the time dreaming of a future where her life would be as calm as both the countryside in which she walked, or how she felt when she read her treasured books. Dreaming was something which came easily to Melanie. Very often her school report would mention that she spent more time day dreaming than doing her school work, except in English lessons which she loved.
Her love of words was always there, but sometimes stifled by the opinions of others. But as she grew older Melanie would not let these hold her back her any longer. Over the years Melanie grew in confidence and it was then that she finally felt able to follow her writing dreams. Being part of quite a large family, but always feeling different to everyone else, Melanie found solace in both writing and books. This, coupled with her new found confidence in herself, mainly because of the freedom of middle age, was where her writing really found momentum.
Taking 25 years to complete her first book, around family life and a pressured work environment in palliative care, Melanie began to realise that simplifying her life was the way to go. Living more simply and finding ways in which to enjoy having less became her chosen path. This was where her book Simply Does It was born. Her experiences to find a more simple life in which to have to time write and do more of the things that she loves, are shared in this unusual non-fiction book. Her other book, Man + Woman + Trouble, is a comical look at the mistakes Melanie made during her relationships. It is full of tips on what not to do if you want a great relationship. It is aimed at both men and women.
Please Introduce us to your Blog. What is it all about? What sorts of posts do you lean towards?
Hello Cynthia, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions.
My blog is about anything to do with books, writing, author interviews, the amazing opportunities that simple living has afforded me, and anything else that peaks my interest.
A lot of my posts are about writing as that is my true love. I try to look at how other writers have written, and how their lifestyle affected that.
I am always looking at ways of showing support to other writers. So many of us flounder at first, so it is nice for us all to support each other. Writer love is what it is all about!
I also did an article about a man who calls himself Captain Beany. He is totally obsessed with baked beans, and even has a museum in his home dedicated to them. I was impressed with the work that he does for charity, and so wanted to feature him on my blog. It got a good reaction which I was pleased about.
You can find my blog here.
What Inspires and stirs your creativity?
The first would be my grandchildren. I have four now and the eldest is 11 this month. I look at the photos of them that I keep near my computer, and I just about burst with happiness. I want to do my best writing for them. It would be nice one day if they read my books and thought that they were a good read. That would be great!
Secondly it would be the simple things in life. I have never been a materialistic sort of person, so the little things have always inspired me. That can be as simple as raindrops on a leaf, an animal, spending time with someone special etc. I feel lucky to be inspired by little things as I tend to notice them more. So I am blessed.
Conversely, what do you find difficult to write about?
I definitely find writing fiction more difficult. I generally write non-fiction, but I got brave this year and wrote my first short story called ‘Blossom Shines at Buttercup Bay‘. It is contained in a Creativia Anthology titled ‘Once Upon a Broken Dream’. I was really pleased that my first attempt at writing fiction was published in this book. My aim is to write a whole series of Buttercup Bay Books. I have the outlines already written, so just need to start writing them now!
What Message, if any, do you hope to Share through your blog/posts?
I want to share so many things through my posts. But the main one is that we are not alone when we find it difficult to write. There are so many writing groups, forums, websites etc. that there is always a place to go where we can learn, get support, or both. The writing community is massive. All we have to do is to find the right fit for us, and then we can interact as much or as little as we want to. The world really is our writing oyster!
How has your blog helped you as a writer/Indie Author? What things have you learned along the way that you never anticipated?
I only started my blog quite recently, so I am learning all the time from it. At first I would plan what posts I would write, but now I do them as the inspiration hits me. The only posts which I do tend to plan are author interviews because readers seem to like those a lot. I like them too because I learn so much from them. Also I write posts about my next book, or when one is due to be released.
One of the things that I never expected to learn from my blog is that not all authors find inspiration in their surroundings. I wrongly assumed that where they write always inspires them. But, I have now found through interacting on my blog, that this is not always true.
I am lucky that I have leaned many writing tips along the way too. I am blessed when other writers share their tips or tell us about their writing day because we can all learn from that.
Tell us about your book(s):
My first book, ‘Simply Does It‘, has just been published. My life has been changed for the better in so many ways by living more simply. This book chronicles the start of my journey towards raising my writing capacity by over 800% in just a year! I wanted to keep the quality of my writing, so I edited again and again. I can honestly say that I have found the magic formula for being able to write much more, even though I was also a full time, live in carer for a relative at the same time. The demands of this mean that I never knew, day or night, when I would be called to help them. Plus I had surgery of my own during this time too. So, if you want to know how I started that journey then ‘Simply Does It‘ could really be the book for you.
My second book, ‘Man + Woman = Trouble‘, came about because I had so many stories to tell about the mountain of relationship mistakes I had made. I also wanted to give tips on how not to behave if you want a great relationship. So this book encompasses these, and more. I tried to keep it lighthearted so that it would be both interesting, and also make readers laugh. It is aimed at both men and women no matter what type of relationship they are in. So I hope that my readers will enjoy it.
What Inspired you to write your book?
I was inspired to write ‘Man + Woman = Trouble’ because of my own experiences. I thought that if I have those sorts of problems, then other must do to. I wanted to look at them in a comical way, whilst also trying to show how not to make the same mistakes that I did.
My inspiration for writing ‘Simply Does It’ was the amazing experiences that I have had by living a more simple life. I can’t stress enough how different my life is now that I live more simply. It has soothed my soul like nothing else, and reduced my stress levels beyond compare with the life that I once led. It has truly been a breathtaking experience.
From what Point of View do you prefer to write? Is there a reason?
Until now I have always written non-fiction books. I have tended to write from my own perspective so far as the subjects that I have written about are either ones which I have experienced first hand, or are very close to my heart. But, even though they are from my own point of view, I try to offer a balanced argument too.
How would you describe your “Voice” or Style of writing?
My style of writing is really just hearing what thoughts come into my head, and then documenting them. I wish that I could say that it was more technically done, or in the style of some great writer, but it isn’t. My writing is generally like someone is having a gentle conversation with the reader. I am writing my thoughts, and they are reading them. I don’t know how else to do it. I think that we all have our own writing styles, and that we shouldn’t fight them. Going with the flow is much better than having a daily battle with your writer self. Life is much calmer that way, and I like that.
What genre do you prefer to write or are you truly eclectic?
Until now I have always written non-fiction. I know that my books will often be about writing, as I think about it so often. But they will also be about the benefits of simple living. The world seems to be running at such a frantic pace now that something has to give. Either we find a better way to live which is less stressful, or we could quite literally spontaneously combust. The choice is our own to make. I just hope that more of us make it sooner than later.
Do you painstakingly plot out your story; are you a discovery writer or a bit of both? Why?
My only piece of fiction is my short story ‘Blossom Sines at Buttercup Bay‘. So I’m not really sure yet. I did have some sort of outline before I started to write it. But it tended to be very fluid during the writing process. So I would probably say that I do both.
Do you have a favourite or least favourite character? And Why?
It would have to be Monty because he is so kind and sincere. But that may change to someone else over time. I guess that I won’t really know until I have written the rest of the books. It is something that I am looking forward to.
Share an insight or secret about your book(s).
Well, I have written most of my books without getting a good night’s sleep. Because of a shoulder injury I have, I still need to have further shoulder surgery. The pain from it means that either I take regular pain killers that don’t work, or I take strong ones which knock me out during the day a lot too. I haven’t been able to sleep in a bed for 18 months now. So I sleep sitting up in a chair every night. To be honest it is exhausting. Most of us can cope with a few night of poor sleep, but at the moment that is my reality every night. I hope that the further surgery that is scheduled for me will work, and I will be sleeping soundly again soon.
What do you feel is your best advice to share with other aspiring authors?
Never, ever, give up! Use whatever keeps you going to do just that. Also, read about J.K Rowling’s story for inspiration. I don’t just mean about how many publishers turned her down. I mean about what she went through in her personal life before she even got to that point. Keep fighting for what you want, always.
Would you like to share an excerpt from the book or a poem or two to give readers an idea what you offer?
Yes, that would be good. The first excerpt is from my book ‘Man + Woman = Trouble‘ –
That Old Chestnut Nagger
The characteristics of a That Old Chestnut Nagger are persistence and having a really good memory, and boy do women have good memories. Especially where we think the subject in hand really matters. Make sure that you remember this because it is a distinct advantage if you do. Of course no logical thought process would have ever gone into this decision. We tend to store up our points to remind us how bad you have been in a sort of brain sack. It’s hidden away in a very dark and dingy place. The sort of place you wouldn’t want to go to after dark. Where monsters loom, and even they have to fight for survival. A place where you should expect the unexpected to happen, and where you should be very afraid, because it is very unpredictable depending on mood and hormone levels.
Men just need to remember that we can store all this information we often refer to as important stuff for a very long time. This is the sort of stuff which we are sure to bring up the next time you either look at us in a funny way, or perhaps when you do something like breathe. Yes I did say breathe. You can sometimes only do one of these before we blow again. We are like a volcano just waiting to erupt. Not all of us of course. But there are enough women like this for anyone to be weary.
Another thing to remember is that we never lose sight of our original point for discussion. It is always there lurking in the background. Don’t forget that it is also a woman’s prerogative to add more points at any time. In fact the list can just grow and grow. Like one of those seemingly tiny pieces of paper that is folded neatly, but which can unravel and grow to an incredible length at any time. So, gentlemen, it may be advisable that you have your own list to argue points from. That’s something that the lady in your life won’t be expecting. Shock tactics are usually a good way of causing a detour around the subject in hand. Especially if you want to buy some extra time or if you are dying to get to the pub/bar or to do something else that’s equally as important. But of course you need to be aware that any dodged points will only come back to bite you later, so sometimes it’s best to just suffer at the time and get it over with. It really depends on when you want more hassle. Is it best to have trouble now, or later? Only you can make that decision. Because one thing you can be sure of is that it will surely come at some point in time.
What you need to do is literally wait until the nagger is taking a breath and dive in with the first point you want to make. Then just keep going strongly, or keep very quiet. How she reacts will guide you towards which of these you need to do. Remember that just because one tactic worked last time doesn’t automatically mean that it will work this time. You may also pay later if you choose the wrong course of action this time. A bit like gambling with terrible odds. She is the banker, and we all know that the banker nearly always wins.
The second excerpt is about when I went to live with nuns, from my book ‘Simply Does It‘ –
When I had first arrived at the convent Sarah had encouraged me to explore both the main building and the grounds at my leisure. I was interested in all of it. I wanted to immerse myself in the whole process during my stay so that I could understand how the simplicity factor of their lives really worked for them. I needed to learn from the nuns so that I could accomplish more when I returned to the outside world. I knew that to do this I needed to visit all of the communal rooms in turn, and to spend time taking in the sights and sounds of each one to make sure that I fully immersed myself in the atmosphere of each area so that I got the full value from my time at the convent.
There were several bedrooms and bathrooms on the first floor. Each floor was around a central quadrant which was framed by very ornate stonework cloisters and lovely arched windows. Walking through these cloisters was like walking back in time. It felt quite surreal. Like I had been momentarily transported into someone else’s life, feeling what they felt, thinking their thoughts, and walking their walk. I liked that the cloisters could be used in all sorts of weather as they were deep enough to shield you from the rain no matter what direction it came from. They were a very simple but clever design.
Now, lets talk About YOU:
If you had to describe yourself to someone who has never met you, what might you say?
Gosh, that’s a difficult one. I would have to say that I am an honest and supportive person, with a passion for writing and books. That I care about people and the environment, and genuinely want to make things better whenever I can. That I am a good listener who tries not to judge too. Physically – rounded, with rosy cheeks, and a good heart!
If you could meet one person from the past, who might it be and why?
What an interesting question! The person that I would most like to meet from the past is actually still alive. But I am hoping that you will indulge me with this one. He was born several generations before me so is still technically from the past I guess. His name is Leslie Phillips and he is a British actor. When I was a child my mother always watched films that he was in. I always wanted to be the same age as him in the films that he made in the 50’s. He played parts where he was always suave and sophisticated, with a very posh accent. I thought that he was a dreamboat. So, really I wanted to meet him because of the parts that he played. I would like to ask him what makes him tick.
When you are NOT writing, what is your favourite pastime?
It has to be reading. I am a book-a-holic. There will never be enough time for me to read all of the books that I want to in one lifetime. Not in ten lifetimes in fact.
Describe Your Dream Getaway Destination. Have you ever been there? What makes this place Irresistible to you?
Any of the Scottish islands would be the place for me. I love peace and open spaces. I also love ragged coastlines and weather which isn’t too hot, so they are the ideal sort of place for me. Since visiting Scotland many times a as child, and reading a book called ‘Island on the Edge: A Life on Soay‘ I have been even more obsessed about wanting to go there. So, watch this space!
Do you have a Mantra?
I certainly do – ‘I can and I will’. I repeat that to myself all the time, sometimes out loud in public places too 🙂 It has definitely helped me to believe that I can and I will at many points during my life. So, I will keep on using it.
What “Charity” or “Cause” do you feel passionately about & Why?
A percentage of the profits from my books go to Autism charities. I chose those because two members of my family have Autism. They are very high functioning and so live almost like their peers. But obviously Autism is close to my heart because of them. I also worked with people who have learning disabilities for nearly 30 years, and so have both a carer and family perspective on it. It is a disability which is often misunderstood. Plus there is a stigma related to the word Autism. People tend to see the disability instead of the ability. Some of the greatest people ever born, like Einstein, were Autistic. We all have disabilities of a kind. I truly believe that now is the time to focus on people’s abilities rather than on what they can’t do.
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions Morgan. I really do appreciate it!
And Thank YOU Jan/Melanie for sharing your time and talent with BnV.