Fonts, Podcasts and Software.

Like most authors, I guess, I listen to a few podcasts about writing and the traits of other authors. When asked to recommend I always say that I’ve tried a number, deleted most from my phone but stuck with two that I’ve loved and listened to from episode 1 to present day.

The Taylor Stevens Show – listened to episodes 1 to 280 as of today where Taylor explains how to write, edit, re-edit but in minute detail. Listening to one of these podcasts always makes me return to my work in progress with fresh ideas in my head. #280 is entitled “The importance of character voice,” and as both my work in progress jumps between six female characters as does it’s predecessor, being edited at the same time, so a need to distinguish between the six women became even more paramount.

Writer’s Routine with Dan Simpson. Dan interviews a current, published author each week and asks them about where they write, how they write and why they write. I’m always jealous of described office setups and do most of my own writing between 5.00AM and 8.00AM while laying in bed writing on an iPad. For a full interview of how “Arranged Marriage” was written by me you should go to the excellent author-interview blogpost by Christal A Cooper at her Blogspot.

Those are the two podcasts I subscribe to but I must also mention one now defunct, podcast, an 18 series show called The Invisible College. Cathy Fitzgerald made the series for BBC Radio 4 and the last episode went out in June 2017 and I have gone through the series four times so far and always learn something new. Basically, Cathy goes through the BBC archive looking for advice from famous writers, from Ted Hughes to Ray Bradbury, often the clips are humorous, always worth listening to.

In the Writer’s Routine Podcast the interviewed author is always asked what software they use and even what font they prefer. The answer on software is usually a one word answer and can be Word, Scrivener or Google Docs, probably in that order of preference.

My story is slightly more complicated and is dictated by my use of a Windows laptop, an iPad and an iPhone so, not really that compatible. My Windows laptop runs an outright purchased version of MS Office and I was happy to do all my work in Word and love the formatting stage and was savvy enough (because of a hobby of photography) to back everything up on an external hard drive. I purchased (on recommendation) an iPad version of Scrivener for £47.00 and tried it for a while but couldn’t at the time, see any benefits over the Word platform.

Then, in a day job, sat in an office, I was introduced to Dropbox. Happy days.

My personal Dropbox account allowed me to work on my laptop using Word documents in Dropbox, then download the Apps for Word and Excel onto my iPhone and iPad and that let me work on my manuscript on any of the three lumps of hardware, wherever I was. My planning spreadsheet is on Excel so that suited also. The backup from Dropbox to laptop hard drive and external hard drive then became once or twice a week only.

All went well until Microsoft, in their wisdom, decided that even though I had a one-off purchased version of Office on my laptop, if I wanted to open and edit a Word or Excel file on my iPad or iPhone, I would have to pay them a monthly fee. No.

An alternative was needed. Scrivener was resurrected on the iPad and this time I went through the tutorial and learned how to use it properly. Scrivener is now my tool of choice for a first draft (I’m using it now) keeping each chapter separate from others, emailing each finished chapter to myself for storage on laptop and hard drive (in Word format) and for eventually compiling all chapters together at the end of the first draft. I have found, over two novels that I have the ability to move things about on the pinboard, like chapter two needs to be chapter one, renamed, and chapter sixteen actually happens before thirteen so move the card on the pinboard and it all happens in the eventual compiled version.

I recently listened to author Abigail Mann who wrote The Sister Surprise on the Writer’s Routine Podcast and she described backing up Scrivener files to a hard drive, losing her originals and only then finding out that she’d been backing up a blank template. Having followed her on Instagram I was able to DM her with the following advice :-

At any time, but specifically on finishing a chapter or the edits to a chapter, find on your iPad the little file icon, bottom right, with an arrow sticking out of the top of it. File Out. When touched it gives you choices, choose “Send A Copy” and you get more choices of which format you want it in. In my instance it’s Word, touch Word and you get yet more choices, including Dropbox if you have it, or Mail. I choose Mail, my email opens, the Word file is attached and I can send a copy to myself.

Every now and again, go into your emails, click on the files, Save As and direct them to your preferred hard drive folder to be a new chapter or to replace a previous edit. THEN BACK THAT FOLDER UP ONTO AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE.

She was grateful and sent a nice message back.

Something else I found from the Scrivener tutorial was the ability to have all researched documents in a Research sub folder so that once you are in the main Scrivener novel file you have all your chapters and all your research, all in one place.

So, I have a complete version of a first draft in Scrivener but do not have a separate version of Scrivener on my laptop (extra purchase) so what to do. Having sent all the chapters and finally the compiled version of the first draft in Word format, it would seem logical to start editing in Word. Except, that would limit me to the laptop so Microsoft loses out again. Google docs was my researched choice, downloaded onto my iPad and became the perfect free tool for editing. Edit chapter one, send the whole compiled novel to myself by email in Word format, edit chapter two, send that by email and so on, keeping copies of every update. You will note that Google Docs is as easy to back up as your Scrivener chapters.

After what seems to be a hundred edit runs, the finished-for-now product is kept on the laptop, in Word format, formatted for chapter headings and given an index that links to chapter headings and the whole lot is ready for either Beta readers and an editor or (more usually) Kindle Direct Publishing.

So not a one word answer then. Oh, nearly forgot. Font. I don’t know why but, after experimentation, my font of choice is Bookman Old Style that has more rounded characters than most fonts and makes it easier, for me, to spot bloopers. Not that I spot them all of course.

Nothing hand written I hear some of you exclaim. No notebooks? Well, I handwrite while journalling but that’s a bit different than novel writing. Journalling is not carried out on modern equipment and needs to use a different part of the brain entirely. I have a leather-bound book with a long, leather belt that wraps it twice and seals it closed. Inside the leather cover is hand-made paper and the paper is written on in fountain pen – a limited edition Conklin flexible nib pen. I feel the difference is necessary. Novels writing is for getting it down, polished and published, journalling is for posterity, for your old age or for those that come after you.

Note taking while walking, jogging, gardening, sitting about – Notability is a great App to have on your iPhone and notes can again be emailed to yourself.

If any of the above helps, changes your life or you disagree with anything I’ve said, please let me know.

Arranged Marriage.

I had more fun writing this novel, Arranged Marriage, than writing any other and still enjoy reading it back – trying hard not to edit because it’s all too late.

Although it’s a stand-alone novel it does follow on from the two girl’s parents story to be found in A Boy For Two Witch Girls which, if you read this post between 11th and 17th February 2021, is only 99c on Amazon but thereafter jumps up to the staggering $2.99 which is still a bargain read.

Monique sees herself as always second place to her cousin Skye. Neither feel comfortable hiding witch powers in a human world. Both seek love and affection but can see no way to attain it.

Then Silas, a combined witch and vampire, turns up at their door and explains to them that their destiny is to bring together the witch world with a vampire world that lies behind a gateway. Skye will be the main force with Monique advising and, once again, believing herself inferior. Both are destined for arranged marriages.

Marriage to two princes sounds exciting to the girls but they have no idea that the princes are not alike in temperament. Arranged marriage, it seems, suits some young women but not others and a lot will depend on the man chosen.

Will Skye fulfil her dreams? Will Monique finally outdo her cousin any aspect of her life and are the rumours she has read about, regarding a vampire’s destiny of fulfilling his bride’s passions, turn out to be true?

A stand-alone novel of love, hate, forced marriage and marriage jumped into. Skye is the daughter of Janice from “A Boy For Two Witch Girls” and Monique is the daughter of Shelagh from the same novel. Read this novel then delve into the history of how two witch families ended up living in the same remote cottage.

Early readers have described this novel as YA with adult themes, NA with a retrospective look back at youth and also as a love story for any age group.

Part three is my work in progress and will involve one of the girls settling down into domestic bliss in the human world while trying to sort out the various problems of her neighbourly lady friends.

Read Arranged Marriage now. This novel and all my previous novels can be previewed at StephensonHolt.com

A Discovery Of Witches (novel and tv series)

Firstly, a warning. Some trilogies have a start and a finish to each of the novels, with the heroes going on a single quest in each book. This is not such a trilogy and you shouldn’t read the first book expecting resolution at the end, or even a conclusion to the main story. It leaves you hanging and you either read books two and three or you leave disappointed. (Series one of the TV shows do the same thing.)


I read this novel after the TV series aired but hadn’t watched it. Then, as with all read then watch, felt surprised the characters were not the ones in my head, although the aunties came pretty close. I am presently watching series 2 before deciding whether or not to read book 2.


I loved this book, got deeply involved with the characters, their development throughout the novel and the story itself. It might have appeared in my bookshelf of top ten novels, certainly would have reached a top twenty list, but for a few personal gripes that knocked it to a four star review.
 
My Timeline:- started watching episode one of the tv series, turned it off and decided to read the book instead, got half way through the novel and read some reviews, couldn’t understand some of the comments in the reviews, finished the novel.
 
My suspense of belief, of the novel’s world, was complete while reading. I took for granted that the incredible amount of research by the author into historical facts was accurate (who am I to argue) and everything said about the relationship between witches, vampires and daemons seemed logical. The fact that they could all become friends, and because of their friendship, attract enemies, seemed to work completely. I found the novel a page turner, so why only four stars?
 
Someone reviewed this novel after hearing the audio version and commented that the accents of the characters were well portrayed by the reader. I can completely understand this but, as I found, time and again while reading, I didn’t know who was speaking and the voice of a narrator would have helped enormously. Three-way telephone conversations were confusing, a host of people in the same room even more so. Far too often a paragraph of speech is completed by ‘said Matthew’ for instance, shocking you into changing the voice you just read in, or even going back in the story. There are even instances of a character thinking, acting, speaking, but then you find out that the speech is by someone else. It would be interesting to find out how the narrator in the audio version coped and whether they had to re-read parts and change the character voice on the second read.


Some reviews that I read mentioned an editor being needed and I agree. The film running in the author’s head is clear to her with regard to who is speaking, but that needs to be conveyed to the reader. I thought this all the way through the book and was shocked at the end, on reading the acknowledgements, that not only was an initial editor thanked but also a second editor ‘to polish things up.’
 
Something that would be brushed over by most readers (I guess) but added grit to my reading enjoyment, was the fact that practically the whole novel is written in first person past tense, which is fine, but the odd two or three chapters jump into third-person omniscient past tense when Diana is away from Matthew and we hear Matthew’s story. Probably me and, as stated, most won’t find it a problem but I would have preferred those parts to have been in Matthew’s voice.
 
Research, as I said above, seems to be thorough. So why did the following grate so much in my head? Early on in the story, while in the Bodleian Library, in Oxford, England, a discarded newspaper Diana reads, refers to deaths in London and refers to ‘the Fall of 2007’. Fall? Autumn over here folks. British people never use the term Fall and a newspaper certainly wouldn’t. Worse, the reference ‘A quick check revealed that my body was naked and tucked tightly under layers of quilts, like a patient in a British intensive-care ward.’ What?
 
So, a few gripes but still a 4star review. Will I watch the TV series? – Yes, eventually. I tried the first episode for a second time and realised that the term ‘based on’ had been applied only loosely but then carried on regardless and got to the end of the series. Series 2 is now on Catchup TV and I am catching up slowly when in the mood. Guess what though – I expect a cliff hanger at the end of the series to make me watch series 3.
 
Will I read the second and third in the trilogy? Yes and they are on my ‘to read’ list. The gripes that I have, are worth it for being immersed in this world, away from reality.

Hey Author, Can I Interview You?

When the question came, I panicked. Me? I’m not interesting. Why me?

A message back to the blogger, saying I’d been to her blog and it was mostly poets, gave the response that she (Chrystal Rice Cooper) had interviewed poets recently but there were a number of authors also among her 220 interviewees and I was to be number 221. I looked again, agreed to the interview and decided that if I didn’t like any of the questions, I needn’t answer them.

I didn’t have to worry. The questions were relevant and I enjoyed answering them because it made me look deeper into my work station, my time of day of writing and why, inspiration for the last novel and, above all, the interviewer asked for an excerpt from my latest novel and then a reason why I chose it. These last two are set out below.

I recommend the blogspot, this link will take you to my interview and with an index of every other interview, including, surely, someone you know or have read.

Go to The excellent blogger Chrystal Rice Cooper, with discussion on writing space, alternate titles, an excerpt and the thoughts behind that excerpt. The full interview can be looked at by following the link HERE but you can then go to other interviewees and then visit http://www.StephensonHolt.com for free chapters and much more than you would get in an Amazon sample.

As mentioned above, apart from the free chapters at my website, I gave in my interview an excerpt from the novel followed by a reason for enjoying writing it. That piece of the interview is repeated here;-

The dark, French streets seemed safe to Monique, not crowded by any means but with enough people scurrying along to make them not lonely, and anyway, the four storey buildings seemed to hug her in a friendly way. Some late-opening shop’s lights overspilled onto the cobbled roadway while soft music emanated from the occasional bar that she passed, adding to the romantic atmosphere. Yearning for Tristan’s arm around her, she strolled, her head turning this way and that, fascinated by sights, sounds and smells that had avoided her over recent times, relishing the freedom of strolling aimlessly with no real purpose, other than her target.

Yes, coming out of the vampire realm, passing the gateway out of Tristanos had felt liberating, and yes, the ferry crossing had felt a bit like a return to her own human and witch world, but this was different. Being alone, walking in the dark, feeling bohemian in a long purple dress, no underwear and sandals felt liberating and inwardly romantic without Tristan but with a need for something else, something special.

The light from the little shop on the corner spilled out over pavement and road invitingly, casting shadows amongst the cobbled street and glowing in the centre of her vision. A moth instinct told her to travel towards the moon and heaven. Could it be possible that the sign, seen from that distance, had the word chocolatier after a person’s name. Her feet moved automatically as saliva built and trickled down her throat and cocoa granules filtered into her nose bridge.

The window gave a view of heaven, bejewelled in shapes, colours, patterns she’d never witnessed before. Without knowing how, Monique found herself standing at the counter, her thighs rubbing together like a child’s as she pointed to future treats that were carefully picked up with tongs and placed in a box that always seemed to have room in it for just one more. As each was placed in the box, its ingredients were listed by the chocolatier and Monique felt that she’d already sampled each one.

The till said she had to pay a lot but Monique knew she would have paid double. Leaving the shop, staring down at the lid of her box, wondering how far up the road she could get without opening it, she looked up to see Gallmau stood in front of her, no doubt wanting a conversation, no doubt delaying the silky-sweet substance coating her mouth and throat.

His long grey cloak seemed strangely in-keeping with the surroundings and somehow complimented her own style of dress. His Brythonic language also seemed to suit his surroundings but meant that Monique would have to concentrate on that aspect of her life, rather than a life of sitting in bed with a chocolate in her mouth and a lover by her side who would ravish her body as soon as he was awake.

“Greetings Monique, a tavern is open, just on the next street corner. Two Cognac, one each, you’ll have to pay, a chat before the big meeting and a question. Have you ever eaten chocolate while sipping Cognac I wonder?”

Monique smiled, her core muscles clench-smiled and they both knew that chocolate and Cognac would be a new experience for her.

The bar had outside tables. Monique sipped the sparkling, amber Cognac from a balloon glass, far too big to hold the liquid, the sparkle coming from street lights shining through the residual alcohol clinging to the sides of the bowl. Then she placed her first chocolate into her mouth, it slowly found her body temperature, agreed it was the perfect temperature for them both and melted into what at one time had been her head but was now a pleasure dome and then, she opened her mouth to ask a question but Gallmau cut her off.

“It was easy Monique. Your internal organs shine bright in the night, like a beacon, and some are on fire with passion for both your husband and for chocolate. Tweaks made by me, to your liver, and your pancreas can easily make a girl hungry for sugar. I stood near what is now your favourite shop in the whole world and passed chocolate aroma towards you. You would normally have detected my witchcraft but had other things on your mind. The sugar in that chocolate is far higher than the taste of post-sex blood, don’t you think? I believe, for the female body, both chocolate and vampire sex are ultimate goals and if you can have both, then when you choose to have either, you are in a privileged position.”

  1. Reason this is an emotional part of the novel for you.

A long time ago, my wife and I went on the fifth of our educational trips to the wine regions of France (Euphemism for something). This one was to the vineyards of Bergerac.

Leaving a small hotel that was somehow stuck in the time of Zola’s France, we walked through the old town looking for a restaurant. When the heavens opened with the biggest raindrops on record, we just laughed to see our shirts and blouses sop up the water. Diving into the nearest restaurant we were immediately towelled down by staff who apologised for their weather and gave us Cognac to help us recover.

When I wrote the above extract, my head was in that restaurant, looking through the window, seeing Monique, experiencing her emotions and finally meeting Gallmau a few feet away from me. I don’t remember what we ate and certainly can’t remember thinking “that could be in a novel one day.”

First Draft completed in November

Then came the revelation that  webpage titles have difficulty with apostrophes as do search engines. Sometimes the name would come out as Skye s other times as Skyes. A change was needed.

All the way through the first draft of this novel, the working title has been ‘Skye’s Limit’ – well it started off as ‘Sky’s Limit’ but as I read back and edited I kept on reading ‘Sky ‘as ‘She’ so changed her name to Skye.

One of these girls, Skye, is the daughter of Janice, the hero of A Boy For Two Witch Girls and the other, Monique is the daughter of Shelagh who also appears in that novel. Arranged marriage works out for one but not the other. You’ll have to read the novel to find out which.

Looking back at the total story line, without plot or sub-plot, we have two late-teenage witch girls being given to (via arranged marriage) two vampire men. The premise is that it will make both realms stronger.

A stand alone novel that is actually a sequel to Janice and Shelagh’s story, the ending has prompted a book three in extreme draft form only (messing about with a first chapter) but that is usually how things go.

Editing of this first draft is proceeding slowly, while trying to reduce the 102,000 word count and then it will go out to Beta readers. If you have read the above and fancy receiving a free copy to Beta Read before it goes to an agent, then please get in touch via the contact sheet on my website at StephensonHolt.com

Tai Chi Book or DVD?

The book is small, shiny cover, elastic place holder in orange, as everyone agrees, a lovely little book and reminiscent, to me, of a missal. We are told not to judge a book by its cover but there is some useful information in here, for me. Not all info was used by me though – I shall explain.

I wanted to learn Tai Chi and the local class ( that had clashed with a course, recently completed) was no longer. This book seemed to be the answer. Chapters one  through three are divided into a number of sections dealing with body, mind and spirit which I found really useful and will read over and over again. Chapters four through seven concern place, warming up, basic stance etc and that is where I finally got to.

On a course, years ago, a lecturer explained the difference between reading how to do something and being shown how to do it. “Imagine,” he said, “you want to play Monopoly. You were shown by someone who had already played it. Have you ever read the complicated rules on how to play?” None of us had. So it is with this book.

The chapters on actual Postures are written instructions that would be difficult to perform while reading. For this reason I bought the DVD called “Tai Chi Sun Style 73 Forms” (see below). This DVD takes you through each of the 73 forms, one by one, a couple of times each, with Dr. Paul Lam and his assistant, one facing you the other not. The complete 73 forms can then be watched and copied with him either front face or back to you, depending on your preference. The DVD has nothing on breathing, mind, spirit etc.

For all the above reasons I believe the book and the DVD are invaluable together and less than half as good apart. I would recommend both.

Dr. Paul Lam takes you through the whole thing, stage by stage, fraction by fraction of each stage. He continually talks to you in a soft voice and is easy to follow.

Having explained a procedure, front-on, with his assistant, he then turns his back to do it again but without you imagining that you are looking into a mirror.

It is extremely useful to see front and rear view at the same time and this is extended into the final chapter where the whole routine is performed. You then have the choice of watching someone facing you, or you can choose to have him with his back to you so that you can copy moves as if you were in a group and you were following the person in front of you.

My Poor Car

Well, a difficult October and that’s ignoring Covvid-19 and its implications to normal life.  While laying in bed, early one morning, we heard a loud bang, looked out the window to see an unknown car having ploughed into my car and watched him drive off as if nothing had happened. My car was later written off as unrepairable.

Luckily we have a fantastic Neighbourhood Watch system with cameras everywhere (3 on our house) and a Number Plate Recognition camera at the end of the street.

Long story short, the police contacted the driver, suggested he may wish to return to the scene and offer his insurance documents and we have a new car arriving this Friday.

On the writing front, my work in progress is getting complicated and I have to keep going back to a huge spreadsheet to see who knew what and when. “Skye’s Limit” is a follow up to “A  Boy For Two  Witch Girls” and involves Skye and Monique  (witches) having arranged marriages with two vampire princes and the way they manage that in completely different ways.

The novel is becoming political and looks at Vampire standards towards women and how that may not be that different to the human or witch world. I will update on progress as and when.

More blog notes, reviews and details of novels written at www.StephensonHolt.com

Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons – A Review.

When I first read this novel, some twenty-five years ago, I found it fascinating and, at that time, it was a bit of a cult novel. Families who had all read the book, talked to each other by using quotes from the book. Nobody bought it then, it was passed from person to person as a dog-eared paperback. Thus it was a surprise for me to go into the Amazon reviews to find it was rated two and a half crowns out of five. On further investigation, one reviewer had loved it and scored it 5, two others had hated it and scored it one (this was 25 years ago). I note now that it is a Penguin Classic!

I was careful not to watch the film as I was sure that it would destroy the mental images built up in my mind. Such as the following;-

“A little later, as she (Flora) sat peacefully sewing, Adam came in from the yard. He wore, as a protection from the rain, a hat which had lost – in who knows what dim hintermath of time – the usual attributes of shape, colour and size, and those more subtle race-memory associations which identify hats as hats, and now resembled some obscure natural growth, some moss or sponge or fungus, which has attached itself to a host.”

The above makes me smile, I find it cute and enjoyable and warm. It is not belly-laughing material and doesn’t pretend to be – so why the publishers describe the novel as a comic classic is a mystery to some and an annoyance to others. In these days of fast TV comedy, more is expected. This book was first published in 1932 and is therefore capable of slowing you down to the speed of the day, much as, say V.S. Naipaul’s Mystic Masseur, written in 1957, would do.

The relatively sophisticated Flora is farmed out to her country cousins who smack of in-breeding and tribalism, right down to family structure with a chief at its head. There are questions continually thrown at the reader who somehow knows that the answers will never be found. It is not giving anything away to tell you that months after reading this book you will talk to yourself while walking down the street “I wonder what Great Aunt Ada Doom did see in the woodshed that was so nasty.”

This review and many more, along with novels written by the reviewer, at http://www.StephensonHolt.com

The Girl Under The Olive Tree – A Review

A must read novel for anyone interested in or sitting on a beach anywhere in Greece or elsewhere in the Med, enjoying sunshine and bright colours but unaware of the C20th history of Greece. I will explain why below.

A novel suggested by my wife – we each have a Kindle on the same account so can share books – we love Greece and have experienced many of the smaller islands and she thought this novel set on the large island of Crete would interest me.
On starting I read through the index and to my horror there were lots of dates jumping around everywhere. I screamed “You know I’m an idiot that can’t follow a book that leaps about in time” but she assured me I would be okay. I was okay. It bounces between present day (well 2001) and the pre- war and war years. Present day is narrated by an old main character in the first person with her reminiscence sometimes going into third person. The forties are all in third person and if I could follow that then anyone can.

Something personal to me and my reading-mind perhaps is the fact that when reading a wartime Greek book (there have been a couple) my head is always in a space where we are on a family holiday in sunny summer Greece with all its bright and vibrant colours and then visit one of the many small war museums where photographs are in black and white, drained of colour and that beach that you sat on earlier in the day is shown covered in rolls of barbed wire. Difficult to believe that it is the same place and this novel had the same effect on me. My comment at the top of this piece about it being a must read is because this novel fills in all the gaps between the bright colours and the black and white photos. It makes it real; it makes you understand what it was like to be on Crete at that time like no history book could. Leah Fleming captures the time, the characters and the place and makes you believe you are there.

There is nothing unusual perhaps about a rich girl striking out on her own, defying parents and moving to Athens. We know from the start which way the story will go as the opening prologue-ish chapter is the very end of the story where she is on Crete during the war. I detected a love story theme going on throughout (I am perceptive for a bloke) so I dived onto Goodreads at that point to see if most of the reviews were by women to find that the vast majority are. They shouldn’t be. This is a novel to suit all. If you read this novel and enjoy it and are female then you could pass it to any male friend and explain that it is a war story with a slight love angle (sorry about the gender stereotyping.)

One thing I did enjoy over other novels of similar time span (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin?) was the fact that there was no ‘this is how nice it was before the war and now here we are in the war’ and instead we have a build up towards hostilities and learn how tensions increased and the wait for hostilities was a long one in some parts of Europe.

I recommend the novel and would suggest it would be good background reading for anyone studying 20th century history. Obviously not fact but gives a flavour.

This review and many more (along with books written by Stephenson Holt) at www.StephensonHolt.com

The Deep Voice of Garrison Keilor.

A long time ago, (2003) we fancied a week’s holiday, but somewhere diffent, so we travelled to Norfolk, England for the first time ever, from our home in Wales, on the other side of the country. we stayed bed and breakfast at the Old Custom House in Wells-Next The Sea.  One over-riding memory of the place, in 2003, is that only one restaurant took credit cards so we had to get cash-back at the local Co-op in order to eat out each night.

Things may have changed but, back at that time, brakfast was around one long table and the proprietor explained that it was to get people to talk to other guests, rather then the normal ‘good mornings’ and then chat to whoever is sat with you.

We were amongst seven or eight people, all chatting and it became clear that two couples were either American or Canadian (Brits are always getting into trouble over picking the wrong one) and conversation turned to guessing where they were from/

My guess was close to the border – this raised eyebrows – then, pinning it down more, the middle of America, away from the coasts and in a state on the border of Canada. The two ladies were impressed, one of their husbands asked why I had come to that conclusion.

I explained. “You may not have heard of him but I have an author I read a lot called Garrison Keilor. He writes about local life and was recently on BBC Radio 4 doing readings from his Lake Wobegone novel. You men have similar voices to Mr. Keillor and I know the area I described is where he is from.”

The two couples looked at each other, somewhat stunned until one of the men spoke. “We are all from the same town as Garrison and I tour with him when he does his readings. If he needs a break in the middle of readings, to rest his voice and have a drink of water, then I take over for him because our voices are so similar.”

Is that a chance in a million? They asked Canada or USA and I pinned it to the town.