Welcome, welcome! A while back, you saw my reviews of this fabulous author’s books: Alchemy, Shaman’s Drum. Today, you get a chance to meet the lady behind the stories. Ailsa, can you get us started with a little about yourself, and where you are from while I bring in the tea tray and refreshments?
- Born on a train nowhere near my parents lived so stateless from birth.
- Went to University to study drama with an English teaching degree in London. Had more jobs than I can remember, most of them fun. On marriage number 3. Now French national and living in France since 1990. No children but always masses of animals
What about with your writing? What got you started?
- From a tiny age I was given Beatrix Potter books which had gorgeous illustrations and fascinating stories. I wanted to make more of them.
- I must have been about 4. My school reading book was unsatisfactory so I sat down and re-wrote the end. That was how it began- never stopped since
Was that the inspiration for your first book?
- First book never published – my boyfriend at that time’s looks. It was a Scarlet Pimpernel/Pirate dual personality story.
I’ve read two of your books. Do you have any new projects or news you can share with us about what’s coming?
- Just got back from a road-trip to Slovenia from which we had to run away as the frontiers were closing all around us. Did the return journey to France in 24 hours with hardly any sleep. Glad to be home but will make a good story.
- Book 3 of the Alchemy series, a memoir book by my alter ego Nanny Ab and a work on Healing which my publishers asked me to write. Yes! Asked ME!
- Yes of course – this is from Book Three of the Alchemy series. “This was a conundrum for Riga. Since her acceptance into the Guild of Black Shaman at the age of seven, she had been a magic-user. All but the most basic of modern equipment was completely alien because her magical energies caused them to stop functioning or, in the worst case with electrical goods, blow up. She had never driven a car, had no idea how they worked and yet here she was, being called by the spirit of one. It had reached across the yard to touch her.Had it been an animal there would have been no hesitation but as a shaman she believed that everything had a spirit. Rocks, trees, water, forests…so why not a car? Especially one that had obviously had such a close relationship with the Duke. They must have been a team. Like a horse. If it had been a horse, would she have hesitated for a moment?Deciding that if the thing had enough spirit to call to her then it was her duty to respond, she lifted the tarpaulin and caught her breath at the gleaming chrome and shining paintwork revealed. A deep green body with the Scottish Saltire flag painted on the roof and, bending down she saw a face. The front most definitely looked like a face with big eyes.She sat down cross legged in front of the car and opened her spirit to it. The sadness and longing flooded into her and it felt almost like pain. So, these machines of the Once-Born did have spirits after all!”
I’m drooling! And, waiting patiently… sort of. Do you have an event you can point to and say, “this! This is when I became a real writer!”?
- When people on line started wanting more of my creative work. Shortly after I was given a contract by a publisher so felt vindicated in saying “Me awfur”
How do you feel about writing as a career?
- Erm – it is all I do now I am retired due to ill health so I suppose – yes, if that doesn’t sound pretentious.
I don’t see that as pretentious at all. You’ve taken the cards life dealt you, and made it a winning hand. Has that influenced your choice of writing styles?
- Not at all. I love playing around with all styles. I write comedy, memoirs, fiction, romance… will try my hand at anything.
Is that reflected in your cover creation as well, or did you work with someone else?
- In both trad published series it was my two publishers but in my one self pubbed I did it – and it shows. Won’t be doing that again. Get professional help is the only answer.
Sounds like you have your hands full. With the range of styles you write in, do you weave the stories out of whole cloth, or do you draw from your own experiences and knowledge?
- My Alchemy series is based on my own life-long experience of pagan religions of all sorts. The rituals quoted are genuine.
- How much of the book is realistic? All of them? All of it. I draw on my own experience in the Royal Air Force for YTC gay romance, writing as Cameron Lawton.
With such a wide array of genres, and interests, do you have a specific method for selecting your titles?
- Which one? First one ever published was military so “Yours to Command” became inevitable and the sequel “Cancel Christmas” has happened to both me and current husband in the services.
Have you had any books that influenced your life, and later your writing?
- Myths and Legends of all sorts, Alan Garner, Tolkien and Sir Terry Pratchett. Surprisingly also the Bible which is a collection of great stories.
What about favorite books or authors? Any come to mind as a mentor figure?
- None. I write in my own style which probably is probably a mish-mash of influences by all my favourites.
That definitely can make things interesting. With so many favorites, have you found any new authors to add to the list?
- Plenty but the one thing I don’t have is time. I have the books on my TBR list but still cannot read for long without migraine.
Sorry to hear that. I’ve seen you on Facebook, and you do so much for your fellow authors. Can I be nosy, and ask who you’re reading now (time permitting)?
::Blush, gulp!:: Thanks? I was not expecting that one! ::clears throat::
Who would you say has been your biggest support on your author’s journey?
- All my friends on line have been very supportive. I don’t have much in the way of family but they have stepped into the breech and cheered me on.
Were there many challenges you encountered and learned from with the support of your friends?
- Stickability is more important than inspiration or creativity.
- [One of the biggest challenges was] time! I am chaotic and find it very difficult to organise my work so end up writing three MS at one time . I am also recovering from a stroke and coma so tend to fall asleep.
- [Also, writing] the blurbs!
I think every author alive could agree with you on the last point.
What about personal growth? If you could start over on a book with what you’ve learned now, is there anything you’d change along the way?
- Of course! I don’t do perfection and I can always see “tweaks” in everyone’s work
Ugh! Don’t remind me! (That’s a story for another day, however.)
Going back to a previous comment – that you draw from your own experiences and knowledge – have you used that information before to weave in messages into your books for readers to find?
- Several. Gay people do their jobs and are People, just like you. Religion and belief systems should unite people not make them unhappy. If we learn more about each others’ beliefs we will understand and be less condemnatory.
And, the big question that all of his has been leading up to: What advice would you pass onto your fellow writing travelers?
- Don’t rush it. Never publish or submit something until you have polished it to death. Just because you CAN self-publish is no excuse for putting out crap. It does all of us no good at all.
Ailsa, it has been an absolute grand time having you over. Thank you for coming. As we wrap up, any last words for your readers?
- Yes, a very big THANK YOU for encouraging me when I am on my knees and for leaving me such lovely reviews. Without you gang, I would have given up.
And, another huge thank you for coming. May you have a safe trip home, and better health find you soon.
If you enjoyed the interview, and wish to connect with Ailsa, you can find her home over on the Bingergread Cottage, or on Amazon here writing as Cameron Lawton. She also haunts Facebook Here, and makes appearances on Twitter Here.
If you enjoyed the interview, and wish me to host one for you, please head over to my Offered Services page, and fill out the simple submission form. I’ll get back with you soonest to discuss details.