Radio interview with Paul Stones Radio Reverb

Amanda Williams

I was fortunate enough to be called into an interview with the charismatic Paul Stone who works for Radio Reverb in Brighton. The interview was about an hour long and the main subject was my novel, Just Two Weeks. Especially selected music to match the mood of my novel was played in between sections and we talked  about this and that while the music ran its course. To  be honest it was less like an interview and more like a chat. We broached other subjects including  this blog, my disability, what inspires me to write, whether or not I am a bohemian. Oh yes. I did a reading from my novel too! His colleague intercepted occasionally to put across his views of blogs and life in general, and to introduce the next interview with the band Red Diesel.  And the entire interview took place while a large dog who had initially jumped up top greet me, slept peacefully at my feet.

I was sorry when the time was up.

As he says – sit back with a glass of wine/cup of coffee/tea and have a listen….

Enjoy!

P.S. Because Molly our cat was mentioned I gave the interview her picture.

 

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Guest Post from fellow blogger Sylva Fae

ladybirdI’ve been away from my blog for a while. In fact I’ve been away from the UK for a while. I visited Thailand and Burma which was really interesting.

Back to my blog.  This is a guest post from Sylva Fae who owns her own wood! (along with her family)  http://sylvafae.co.uk/blog/

Sylvanian Dreaming…
I have always loved writing but never had a reason to do so other than for studies or work. Not, that is, until two things changed in my life; I had children and we bought a small woodland. Many people thought we were crazy to buy a woodland just for fun, maybe we are slightly crazy, but it has been the best thing we have ever done. Kings Copse is hidden away in the Shropshire countryside, far far away from our real and sensible lives. It is our magical haven, a place for adventures and the inspiration for writing stories for my little children.
But how did it all begin?
So many times we have wished for things in life only for them to stay as dreams. It was after a disastrous camping holiday with a boisterous toddler that we mused about how nice it would be to have our own little woodland; a space to let our daughter run wild and enjoy the outdoors. Secretly we each went away and researched it and discovered this dream was actually within our reach. We spent an amazing summer pottering around woodlands for sale and eventually found our perfect place. Sometimes you just get a feeling that something is right. That feeling washed over us as we sat on a huge fallen tree and gazed at the sunbeams sparkling through the tree branches. We just knew that this was our wood.
Toasted Marshmallows and New Discoveries
My husband and I both have a love of the outdoors. We enjoy camping and pottering around but neither of us really knew what we were doing when we ventured in. What we did have was a vision. We wanted a safe place for our children to play, where they could roam off the path into the undergrowth and explore freely. We wanted to sit around a camp fire, toasting marshmallows and cooking our tea. We wanted to gather fuel for our log burner at home to keep us warm over winter. Most of all we wanted to share our little woodland with our friends and family.
We learnt quickly and slipped into roles. My husband busied himself doing ‘man-things’ with axes and making fires while I entertained our little one. We explored, creating new paths each time and discovering exciting places. Together we mapped out the wood, naming our special places as we stopped to play. Little toddler legs cannot wander far so we’d stop frequently for an adventure and all the while I drew upon my memories of beloved childhood stories and recounted them for my daughter. We found the tree throne where the fairy king of the wood sits, we made fairy gardens in Bluebell Bank and listened to the trees to hear what stories they had to tell. Remembered stories from The Faraway Tree and the Beatrix Potter animal antics gave way to made up ‘mummy stories’ about our magical adventures with the animals and fairies of the wood.
Now any parent will know how difficult it is to keep spirited children entertained on long car journeys! I discovered that my stories kept her engaged and content, in fact she preferred our ‘mummy stories’ because they were about her and the secret places we’d discovered and named together. Daughter number two came along shortly after and our stories grew to include her. They became my little woodland fairies and seeing the woodlands through their eyes was far more magical than I could ever have imagined. When my third little girl arrived I decided to start writing some of these stories down.
Introducing The Woodland Warriors
Those first couple of years were fun. We learnt a great deal about managing woodlands, my husband taught himself woodcraft skills and we made plans to develop our woodland paradise. At the end of the summer term, I happened to mention to other mums in the playground that we were off to the woods and they jumped at the chance to join us. The children had a glorious day charging round with sticks, making dens and playing on the rope swing. With my girls busy, I got to sit around the fire drinking camp fire coffee and cooked stew on the fire in a big cast iron pot – bliss! That initial group became our Woodland Warriors. The woods came alive with the sound of happy children making their own fun, and the only piece of technology for miles around, was the camera phone I used to record the muddy grins of happy children.
The Warriors left mucky, exhausted yet bubbling with excited ideas to create a woodland playground. My husbandmaking music was keen to oblige and used his new-found woodcraft skills to put up swings, climbing frames and most recently, a mud kitchen; all made from rope and logs from our own little woodland. Each time the Woodland Warriors joined us, the adventure playground grew and I planned craft activities and rambles of discovery. We started running theme days including a pirate adventure with a treasure hunt ending with buried treasure, and a Halloween adventure with pumpkin carving, witches brooms, a spooky trail and ending in a scary walk in the dark.
Secret Worlds and Magic Wishes
As little legs grew our rambles became longer and more adventurous. My favourite moment has to be discovering the Secret Field. My girls and I set off hunting for fairies and ended up at the bottom corner of the wood, a forest of ferns towering above the girls’ heads hides the world beyond. We decided to wade through to see what was on the other side. Imaginations ran wild as we carefully parted fern fronds – maybe a magical land like Narnia, would there be dragons, unicorns or talking animals? Of course I could see quite clearly over the top but watching the excitement of discovery through their eyes as we emerged on the other side was just magical. You get used to the shade under the trees so breaking through the dense ferns into the bright sunshine over a huge field was amazing. The girls ran and ran until exhausted then collapsed in the long grass of our Secret Field.
Discovering the world beyond the woods led to new adventures and the field has become a favourite place. It is a great place to view the woods and appreciate the changing of the seasons. In spring we found a magic clover patch and pick a four-leaf treasure every time we need a wish. In summer we lie in the grass searching for mystical creatures in the clouds chasing mermaids and cloud dragons across the sky while we feast on sorrel. Autumn is great for foraging, the hedges rich in blackberries and chestnuts (if you can beat the squirrels) and Winter is fabulous for stomping through muddy puddles.
Stories and Outdoor Learning
There are two things I’m passionate about, promoting early reading and getting children learning and playing outdoors.
Giving children the opportunities to read and develop their own love of books is such an fun way to start their education. It enhances their imaginative play and opens their little world up to one of fantasy, adventure and discovery. I love the bond formed when we snuggle up at bedtime to share a book. Fond memories of being read to by my mum come flooding back as I share my favourite childhood stories.
Playing outdoors is also essential to early education. I do believe technology is important and my children love watching TV like any others, but balance is the key. Children learn better outdoors. They develop problem solving skills, are exposed to moderate risks and create their own fun. My girls have grown up with a roaring campfire burning, even my littlest can toast her own marshmallows! They climb and fall out of trees, create new dishes in the mud kitchen and learn about construction as they build dens. My girls have a wealth of skills and experience they can take forward into the real world and are not afraid of getting dirty!
Back to the Real World
A few months ago I joined Twitter with a view to seeing how it all worked should I ever pluck up the courage to share my stories. Almost immediately I made contact with authors and was advised to start a blog. Sylvanian Ramblings was born and my woodlands have been the main source of inspiration for blog posts too. I’ve continued writing stories for my girls but now they are old enough to get involved and love sharing story ideas. I quickly scribble down their thoughts and observe their role play games every time we’re out having our adventures. I try to juggle being mum, Woodland Warrior, Sylva Fae, working and writing – it’s not easy but it is fun. Just so many stories to tell and not enough time to write them…
Sylvanian Dreaming for the Future
So far my girls have been the only ones to share my stories. They are stories of secret fields, magic clover patches and woodland creatures. I’ve been content simply to be a secret writer but maybe this year my stories will make their way into print. That’s the thing with dreams, they stay dreams unless you take action to make them happen. Five years ago we had a dream to own a woodland…
Into the clearingwoodland critters1 (1)

Age: Entering second childhood but old enough to know better.

Occupation: College lecturer – teaching English to adults with learning difficulties. Nemophilist dreamer at weekends!

Location: Cheshire, England

Blog: Sylvanian Ramblings – writing as Sylva Fae http://sylvafae.co.uk/blog/

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A prologue to Just Two Weeks my psychological thriller

JUST TWO WEEKS v7 FINAL FINAL Cover front only

 

The party is in a tiny flat on the first floor. Everyone is shouting above the music and the room vibrates with sound. Jo’s hands clap above her head and she turns her hips in time to the beat as she dances barefoot. She knows Rob is watchiher and she twists round to catch his eye. He is leaning against the wall while he puffs on a joint. When he leaves the room she feels a rush of disappointment.

More people are pushing their way in. They are even drunker than the people already there, are carrying plastic bags full of drink and shouting. Someone treads on Jo’s toes. On the other side of the room, a fight has broken out and Jo makes her way to the hallway to avoid it. There, people are leaning against the walls, lounging on the stairs, chatting to each other, smoking and laughing. She walks past them to the galley kitchen. Bottles litter every surface and the kitchen floor is drenched with wine and crushed crisps. She sees Rob holding a wine bottle up to the light, inspecting the contents. A couple are arguing in the corner, but apart from Rob there’s no-one else in the room. He finds some red wine in one of the bottles and fills Jo’s glass. The man, worn out by the argument, storms out.

‘Got a smoke?’ the woman says.

Jo puts her mouth to the stream of water from the tap and sucks down cold water.

‘This is Jo,’ Rob says. ‘We work at the same place.’

The woman lifts her head, puffs smoke towards the ceiling. ‘Pleased to meet you.’

Jo swallows some wine and looks at Rob, wondering. He tops up her glass. This is supposed to be one of their ‘relationship resting’ periods and she feels lost for words; her head begins to spin. She feels sick. Too much wine. No food.

‘Can we open the window? I need some air.’

‘Help yourself,’ the woman says.

Rob comes to the rescue and heaves the sash window open. Cool fragrant summer air wafts in from the orange blossom outside. he houses in the terrace are packed close together and she notices a light from the neighbouring house go out.

‘Hey. Be careful.’ Rob’s voice.

From here she can see the city spread out in the distance: lines and lines of twinkling house lights climbing up the mountains far away until they vanish into a pinprick. A half-moon pops out from behind a cloud. Someone turns the music up. Raucous laughter comes from the room where she’d been dancing. She decides she’s had enough of parties. This will be her last. She is thirsty. She finishes the wine in her glass, holds it out to Rob. ‘Can you get me some water?’

He fills it up from the tap and hands it to her. ‘Hang on, think I’ll join you out there. Just get my fags…’

Jo scans the kitchen and sees peanuts scattered on the floor, the cupboard doors hanging off their hinges. The woman in the black dress leaves the kitchen and Jo feels at ease sitting out there away from the action. From the party room comes the sound of Rap. A breeze fans her face and she sighs deeply, wanting this moment to go on forever while on the street below a motorbike roars past and from somewhere in the city a siren screeches. She hears a meow. A kitten is on the neighbour’s ledge and Jo makes a half turn towards it then looks back towards the kitchen where Rob is coming through the doorway. Behind her the kitten is meowing louder and Jo shuffles along the ledge. The kitten continues to meow frantically: it is tabby with white paws and has moved towards her. Hand outstretched, she leans towards it, loses her hold on the plastic glass which bounces on the patio below. She feels herself slip and grabs the blind cord. It is the only thing there to hang on to.

‘Jo……….’ Rob’s voice, screaming.

She feels herself go. The wind rushes past her. The smell of orange blossom floods her brain. In silence she falls and feels her body land on the patio below, feels the pain sear through her.

Then nothing.

Read on to find out what happens to Jo!

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“What about me?” says Jolene’s mother.

colorful_peace_bugHiya, I’m Georgina, Jolene’s mother in Just Two Weeks. She doesn’t give me a name in Just Two Weeks, so I thought I’d tell you it. This is a picture of the car me and my soul mate Milo went to Amsterdam in when we got married in 1968. He was a lovely guy and it was a great little car – shame it broke down in Amsterdam. We had to sell it as scrap metal and then go overland to India on buses. It was so different in those days. There wasn’t the danger then. Afghanistan was no problem. It was a passing point to India. Milo and I were married for thirteen years and it’s not entirely true what Jolene said about  his passing. He wasn’t a heroin addict and he didn’t die from an overdose. I was told he died from a heart attack. He died in Bombay, or Mumbai as they call it now. And yes I remember him giving Jolene that silver carving just before he died. I never realised what happened to it until I read Just Two Weeks. It was a  very  hard time  for me after Milo died. I think I went a bit berserk. I can’t remember what happened that well, but there I was with a three year old daughter, Jolene and I was completely lost. I have to admit we did stay in some dumps like she said in Just Two Weeks, but I had very little money then so I didn’t have much choice. But it wasn’t as bad as Jolene makes out and I wasn’t permanently on the look out for a man, though there were one or two, I’m sure. It was too bad for Jolene –  I know she had a bad start, but I always loved her.  Like she says, I had a bad start in life too.  Don’t tell Jolene this – she’ll only get uppity, but I reckon  I was worse off than she ever was. My dad was in the theatre. He died of pneumonia when I was two and my mother didn’t really care for me or my sister plus we were always broke. My sister’s name is Sally. I’m not going to waste precious time telling you about Sally, but I will say she lives in London and is married to a politician. I’ll leave it at that. Except to say he is not in a party I would vote for and I’m a committed socialist and proud of it.  I never see her. Neither does Jolene.  One more thing Baz never hit me.  Despite what Jolene says in Just Two Weeks. He was a bit of a rogue, but I know how to look after myself and I got out before  any harm could be done.  And even though Baz only met Jolene once, he thought she was highly intelligent and an asset to me. At least that’s what he told me.  And I will say one final things. I know Jolene  thinks I think of no one but myself, but she’s wrong. I think Jolene is a really clever girl, got ,my looks too. But I was never keen on Mark.  I preferred…well you’ll have to read Just Two Weeks to find out who I’m talking about. Ta ta for now. I’ll blow a couple of kisses.

JUST TWO WEEKS v7 FINAL FINAL Cover front only

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So who is Jolene Carr?

 

JUST TWO WEEKS v7 FINAL FINAL Cover front onlyWell she is the main protagonist in Just Two Weeks.  She is the woman with the driving force behind the novel. And this is a little bit about her.

At 36 Jo has had an interesting life with many ups and downs. Her mother is an ex-  hippie who dragged Jolene round Asia when she was a child. They slept in hostels and cheap guest houses while Jo’s mother searched for her perfect man.  Unfortunately Jo only has a vague memory of her father who died of a heroin overdose when she was three.  Jolene didn’t get off to a good start.

When she ran away from home at 17, she sank  to the bottom of the pile. She was homeless for a couple of years, squatting in a disused hospital and got in with a ‘bad crowd’. But after three  years of this she decided, not wanting to end up like her mother, she was sick of this life and got into university to study for a degree in Social Anthropology. She worked  hard and got a first. But Jo has always tended to play to hard too. Until she met Mark she drank and took cocaine when she could . And slept around. Like her mother she was looking for the perfect man. Like her mother she was never given the chance to get to know her father. In many ways, Jo is unsure of herself. She has two main girl friends, Lisa and Amy and she is fiercely  loyal to them all. She confides in them though never confides in her mother who she feels never listens. Throughout her life she is haunted by the  loss of her father. And Raquel, the enemy in Just Two Weeks preys on this emotion.

Jo has long dark hair which she often  puts up. She loves jewellery and doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. As a rule she lives in jeans and dresses as casually as the situation will allow. She doesn’t like her nose which she thinks is too big and used to dye her hair bright pink. But these days she doesn’t colour it at all. Lucky for her she doesn’t have one grey streak.

I am very fond of Jo. Even though we are very different, I have a lot of time for her. She has no mean qualities at all. Perhaps the only downside to our friendship is her unreliability, her forgetfulness. Once she had her phone switched off for such a long time I was really worried about her. Turned out she’d misplaced it when it slid onto the floor under the passenger seat in her car. And she has a tendency to make stupid decisions which often backfire. But she’s really a lovely person.

Jo has a soft side to her character. Probably because of her past she is sympathetic to people down on their luck. She’s an easy target for hawkers and enjoyed her work as a Housing Officer in the local authority where she worked with people who were at risk of becoming homeless. She is pretty, laughs a lot  and falls in love easily, quite often with the wrong man,  but really there is only one man for her. You will have to read Just Two Weeks to find out who this is! And it isn’t Mark.

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Behind the scenes of Just Two Weeks

 

Featured Image -- 401 lightbulb

I said my next post would be about the inspiration for my novel Just Two Weeks. Well true to my word here it is. I will start off by saying it was a visit to Sri Lanka which inspired me.  Raven Reviews offered me a guest post about the inspiration for my book. They posted it on their blog and included  some excellent photos which really depict my words well. You can read it here.

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Interview about my book Just Two Weeks plus a competition to win a copy!

I hope you’re not fed up with me bleating on about my  novel, but I want to post this interview as it covers much more than the usual. Within the interview there are three short extracts from the book so you can have a peep at the writing.

interviewYou can read it hereFeatured Image -- 401.

If you like what you read you can win a paperback copy of my novel Just Two Weeks.  All you have to do to find the answer to the question is to go to  ‘Look inside’ on the Amazon page. You can ‘look inside’ here.  There is not much time however as the competition  ends on 30th November. And so sorry to all of you who  live beyond the  shores of UK, as it is  only open to UK residents. See the competition here.

My next post will be about what  inspired me to write Just Two Weeks.

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