Writers and Artists, Goodreads, reviews and being thankful.

Here is the last review on Goodreads, just left, by one of my pre-publication reviewers.

There are so many books out there, so many tales to tell and yet this book is a rare find. As you turn each page of Killing Hapless Ally, you start to understand why. It takes more than a good story to make a great book and the author’s use of language, her ability to interlace harrowing with humour and extract strength from despair, is nothing short of extraordinary. With black humour and crafted language, you are transported to an emotionally harrowing childhood in Wales, introduced to Ally and the characters she created in a bid to control a world that that could make no sense to an innocent child. Adolescence sees a whole new set of challenges and it’s an extraordinary writing ability that makes you laugh, cry and shake your head with incredulity. With lusty shenanigans afoot in France, you accompany Ally in the f**cking caravan and shudder as she experiences her first orgasm.

There are few books that really stand out for me. As a small child, televisions were banned and I was raised with the likes of Dickens, the Brontes, classical poetry and oddly, Pam Ayres! As an adult, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabrielle Garcia Marquez stills stands out as a tale that is all consuming on every page, with no need for superfluous cliff hangers. The Killing of Hapless Ally combines the beauty of language, the skill of a gifted writer and a story so realistic that it is almost unbelievable. When you throw in sex, death, self harm, suicide attempts and the ability of the human mind to survive, this becomes a book that you simply have to read. A rare find indeed.’

Yesterday, I heard I had publication from Bloomsbury’s Writers and Artists website for an article on the value of poetry in today’s society. I focused – and it was a very personal piece in the end – on poetry and, in its broadest sense, mental health and included a section on my observations on poetry and teenagers. I hope you like it. I would have liked to write a much bigger piece (hint to anyone…)

I have a piece on ‘Mother’s Day’ that I couldn’t place in the press, so I will put it here. It may not seem like a celebration and it’s rather full of curses, and yet love is a complicated thing. I have spent decades trying to get out from under the shadow of my mother, someone, as with my father, I never knew as a adult. I have heard only and repeatedly that she was a saint. This is my riposte to that. But did I love her and do I miss her? Oh yes, oh yes: every day of my life.

So my book launches a week today. I have had an exhilarating week, but one that gives pause for thought. I have found that people are coming forward, having read a little about my book or heard what it is about, to tell me about their own experience of depression and anxiety; to begin to put in words their feelings about obstacles they want to get over or cruelties from which they feel they have not recovered. It would not be my place to give advice, only to say, ‘I hear you.’ And also this. Look at the fear you feel or have felt; address the things that hold you back; seek professional help if you feel you need this to heal. If you ask and don’t get (for you have only to look at the brilliant supportive MH community on twitter to see the stories of this), ask again; try a different GP; speak to Mind for advice and support. I know it is hard. But I have found that in dealing with my febrile imagination, rapidly shifting moods and moments of panic and despair – and I want to say that I had thirty mangling, enervating years of these before I even fully believed I deserved help. Yep: thirty years – I was able to begin again. Some days, it’s like I am going backwards, such is the delight in the spontaneity and freedom I can feel; some days are difficult, but that is life. I have learned that in the more difficult elements of my personality, there are also clues to, for example, a greater elasticity of imagination. That scared me when I was younger, but now I am beginning to appreciate its other side.

 

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