Whilst I was recuperating I decided to reschedule some of my earlier posts to reach the wider audience that they have now. They’ve been ‘made-over’ to include the YouTube videos that are now a standard feature and the booklist has been brought up to date. My regular feature will be back in January.
Today I’m delighted to feature one of my favourite authors Stephanie Butland.
Stephanie lives in Northumberland, close to the place where she grew up. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and loves being close to the sea. She’s thriving after cancer.
Over to Stephanie:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Is There Something I Should Know by Duran Duran. They were my teen crush.
Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah because my Dad used to sing it (I must remind him, haven’t heard it for a while)
Paul Simon’s Graceland. In the 1980s was the soundtrack of car journeys with my family; I went with my parents to see him in concert last year.
A little bit of Bach. I rarely listen to music when I’m working, but if I do it’s a Bach concerto. (Actually, I rarely listen to anything without words.)
Famous Blue Raincoat by Leonard Cohen. It was the first Leonard Cohen song I heard, in about 1986, though I think it was a Jennifer Rush cover version! Leonard Cohen songs have been a constant in my life. Words, words, words.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
A knitting project. Knitting helps me to think and relax, and I love making things for people I love. I take knitting everywhere. I once had my needles confiscated on the way through airport security and I was lost! (I take wooden needles for travel knitting now.)
Fruit. But only the exciting sort. You can keep your apples and your evil bananas (yuck). But I could cheerfully live on berries, cherries, melons and pears, with Parma ham on the side for dinner and a chocolate cake garnish for dessert!
The sea. Walking on a beach, rain or shine, was part of my upbringing in Northumberland and is what I miss when I’m away. I moved back to Northumberland 7 years ago and being near the sea again is one of the best things in my life.
Notebooks and pens and pencils and every sort of post-it. All of the stationery, basically.
And all of the books. I get a bit panicky if I’m nearly finished one book and haven’t already decided what I’m reading next.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Never get drunk on advocaat.
Relax and be kind. No-one is judging you as harshly as you judge yourself.
Some things can’t be rushed. Wait.
Say yes to that first-term offer at college. You know the one… If you don’t you’ll always wonder what might have happened.
Not everything that feels personal is personal.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I’m a coward when it comes to films – it’s rare that I’ll see anything with a certificate higher than 15
I can spin yarn on a spinning wheel
I loathe and despise pantomimes
I have absolutely no sense of direction (why is north not uphill?)
I have not eaten sweetcorn since the time I was 15 and had a gastric bug and I was sick with such force that the sweetcorn I’d recently eaten POURED OUT OF MY NOSE. You’re welcome.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
Visit St Kilda. We tried when we went to the Outer Hebrides last year but the weather was against us.
Stay in the Ice Hotel
Appear on Strictly (and stay long enough to get to do a waltz and a tango)
Write a book while living in a loft apartment in New York
Spend a concentrated period of time learning to do something that had no practical use. Ideally, a month somewhere remote in China learning to write Chinese characters.
(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)
Does your past define your future?
When her daughter was born with cystic fibrosis, Kate Micklethwaite vowed that Daisy would never be defined by the illness. Kate is determined that her perfect little girl will be known for her love of butterflies and croissants and nothing else. Kate does all she can to be the perfect mother – whatever that means – and yet, somehow, has started seeing herself the way others see her: single parent, source of small-town scandal, drop-out, former mistress. Half a family.
When Daisy starts school, Kate meets her new teacher, the kind and charming Mr Spencer Swanson. Now, with more time on her hands Kate can start thinking about her own future. With her Open University dissertation deadline looming, Kate needs to decide what she wants next. But as she and Spencer get to know each other, Kate notices that people are whispering behind her back once more . . .
The Woman in the Photograph
1968. Veronica Moon, a junior photographer for a local newspaper, is frustrated by her (male) colleagues’ failure to take her seriously. And then she meets Leonie on the picket line of the Ford factory at Dagenham. So begins a tumultuous, passionate and intoxicating friendship. Leonie is ahead of her time and fighting for women’s equality with everything she has. She offers Veronica an exciting, free life at the dawn of a great change.
Fifty years later, Leonie is gone, and Veronica leads a reclusive life. Her groundbreaking career was cut short by one of the most famous photographs of the twentieth century.
Now, that controversial picture hangs as the centrepiece of a new feminist exhibition curated by Leonie’s niece. Long-repressed memories of Veronica’s extraordinary life begin to stir. It’s time to break her silence, and step back into the light.
The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae
Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.
She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that – just in time – saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .
Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point and she wants to find her father.
Have her friends left her behind?
And she’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. She barely knows where to start on her own.
Then there’s Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn’t make it. And now she’s supposed to face all of this without him.
But her new heart is a bold heart.
She just needs to learn to listen to it . . .
Lost for Words
THIS BOOKSHOP KEEPS MANY SECRETS . . .
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you.
Into her refuge – the York book emporium where she works – come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories.
Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can’t hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heartbreaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story?
It’s time to turn the pages of her past . . .
The Other Half of my Heart
Fifteen years ago Bettina May’s life’s veered off course in one disastrous night. Still reeling from the shock of losing everything she thought was hers, Bettina opens a bakery in a village and throws herself into the comfort of bread-making.
She spends her days kneading dough and measuring ingredients. She meets someone. She begins to heal.
Until someone who knows what happens that night walks into Bettina’s bakery. In the pause of a heartbeat, fifteen years disappear and Bettina remembers a time she thought was lost for ever . . .
Can she ever go back?
Letters to my Husband
Dear Mike, I can’t believe that it’s true. You wouldn’t do this to me. You promised.
Elizabeth knows that her husband is kind and good and that he loves her unconditionally. She knows she hasn’t been herself lately but that, even so, they are happy.
But Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when Mike dies in a tragic drowning accident. Suddenly everything Elizabeth knows about her husband is thrown into doubt. Why would he sacrifice his own life, knowing he’d never see his wife again? And what exactly was he doing at the lake that night?
Elizabeth knows that writing to Mike won’t bring him back, but she needs to talk to him now more than ever . . .
How much can you ever know about the people you love?
Thrive : The Bah! Guide to Wellness After Cancer
There’s still a part of us that thinks surviving cancer is a bit of freakish good fortune – the medical equivalent of having a cannonball go right through your middle and living to tell the tale – and so often it’s hard to know how to ‘do’ life after cancer.
Thrive: The Bah! Guide to Wellness after cancer focuses on moving on from a major physical, social and psychological trauma. Like Stephanie’s first book, How I Said Bah! to cancer: A Guide to Thinking, Laughing, Living, and Dancing Your Way Through, Thrive uses a blend of storytelling, practical advice, humour, thinking techniques and strategies, visualisations, meditations, questions, candour and common sense designed to help those who have had a cancer to get from survival to a place where they are truly thriving.
How I Said Bah! to Cancer
This book tells how one woman said ‘Bah!’ to cancer through thinking strategies, a proactive approach to treatment, and a determination to keep the rest of her life going and retain a sense of humour (most of the time!). It shares everything she learnt along the way, from the nature of cancer cells and chemotherapy drugs, to how she was able to help her friends and family to help her. ‘I was never going to die from cancer. That hard lump peeping out of the top of my bra was aggressive but it was small enough to be contained, and I was young and strong and otherwise well. All the signs were good. Words like “lucky” and “caught in time” were thrown around like rice at a wedding. No, I was never going to die from cancer. But from the beginning, I never planned simply to survive it. Oh no. I was going to say a great big Bah! to it. Please, join in. Cancer? Bah!’
I’m with Stephanie on the films. I even have to think twice about a 15! 😄
LikeLiked by 1 person
Me too! 😂
LikeLiked by 1 person