The Dirty Dozen… with Nick Rowe!

Welcome to another edition of The Dirty Dozen!

This is my spin on the author/blogger interview… Not all of these questions are easy, but hopefully they will give you an insight into the person on the other side of the screen, and more of a connection. Ultimately, blogging is all about making connections. Show your humanity, show your love, and support each other. Because really, what else is there?

This week, I’m delighted to be hosting Babbitman, aka Nick Rowe, in the Dirty Dozen “hotseat”.

Now this is an unusual, and particularly enjoyable, one for me as I have the pleasure to know Nick “offline”. I’ll let Nick explain it in his own words below.

Nick is a talented blogger, writer, actor and now voice artist…. as shown here: https://babbitman.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/als-pretty-words-my-villainous-voice/

You can find out more here – https://babbitman.wordpress.com/about/

1 – How in all the gin joints in all the world did you come across my blog?

NR – Because I’ve known you since about 2005 and then one day a few years ago you said “hey, I’m writing stuff and I’ve got a blog”. And I said “wow, that reminds me, I’ve got a kids’ story I wrote a while back” and we bonded over writing (rather than Excel, Star Wars and the hilarity of public sector employment, which were the usual topics). And then you wrote an early blog entry on entering the brief and bewildering world of twitter. And I tried to comment on it. Which meant I had to set up a WordPress identity of my own in order to do so. And so I now had a bloody blog that I hadn’t actually intended to create. You did it, Al, it’s your fault that I now have 100 totally innocent people following my blog. You sowed the seed, Al. Yes, you can actually look at my blog and say “I am your father”. 😀

AL – I am the butterfly that flapped its wings and changed history… I may add “Blogfather” to my bio too. 🙂

2 – You, in three words?

NR – Analytical, arty, alternative

AL – and alliterative!

3 – The last book/ film/ or album that you wish you’d made?

NR – Apart from the one that’s been in my head for about a decade? Probably “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens”, just to knock off the annoying edges (although mine aren’t the same as yours, or other people’s).

AL – I have ranted about Star Wars a little before… https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/12/30/the-force-awakens/

NR – Maybe just avoid the Starkiller Base idea which, as well as being stupid, was just one step too close to “A New Hope”. That’s not to say I could make anything as great as that myself; I tend to be in awe of works of art that work well but find those that fall just short to be so annoying! If only they’d fixed x y z!! I would have! (Yeah, right, and cocked up something else instead).

The book I wish had my name on is Sunwielder by Diana Wallace Peach. For me, it’s the perfect story and I love it and her loads. Funnily enough, I doubt I would have come across that book if I hadn’t found her blog. And I only found her blog by having one of my own. And how come I ended up with a blog in the first place…? (Thanks again, Al!)

AL – I know Diana will read this (possibly in her flannel pyjamas), and be flattered by that, but she deserves it. <3

4 – Where are you now on your writer’s / blogger’s journey ?

NR – Well, after pootling about with my blog for a year or two, throwing all kinds of random gubbins up on to it (short stories, poetry, art, theatre props), I decided to join a local writer’s group to force me to get stuck in and actually practice writing, which also has the benefit of creating more content for the blog. My ever-distant novel still needs a pile of specific research and structuring and I need to hack down my original Babbit story somehow to a more commercial length (which you pointed out to me bloody ages ago!).

One of the hardest things is cracking on with the big projects rather than focusing purely on the little blog items which are fun but not ultimately what I feel I want to do. They should be the five minute shorts to the big feature, but at the moment I’m stuck in a perpetual cycle of Looney Tunes, Danger Mouse and Tom & Jerry.

AL – You and me both on that count!

5 – A lot of writers and bloggers enjoy taking part in quote challenges, and sharing inspiring nuggets to help their fellow bloggers along. Can you tell us though one piece of life / writing advice, or quote about life / writing, that you are absolutely sick of hearing, that really doesn’t do it for you?

NR – “It was meant to be”. I’m not a believer in fate. I believe in cause and effect. A lot of success is about being in the right place at the right time with the right people. But unless you’ve got the right material, it ain’t gonna happen. And if you get knocked back, well, it’s just that you’ve not aligned the right place, time and people with what you have to offer. So keep plugging away! This, of course, is much easier to say than actually do. Particularly when you’re a compulsive lazy-arse like myself…

AL – Lazy arse, or distractible creative type? That’s always the excuse I use…

6 – Two true facts about you, and one lie…. Don’t tell us which is which.

NR – I am a wearer of winklepickers;
I haven’t built a full size piano out of cardboard;
I once spent 20 minutes chatting to four-time Oscar winner Nick Park at a wedding

AL – I think I can see what he’s done here… although I don’t remember seeing the winklepickers in the office… they may just have been hidden under the desk!

7 – The zombies rise and take over the world. You have five minutes to pack a bag and hit the road… You’ve got the essentials – water, tent, sleeping bag, vitamins, toothpaste, Al’s zombie haiku guide… What else do you grab?

NR – My MP3 player and some way of recharging it using solar power (ensuring that “Second Coming” by The Stone Roses is prominent because “I like it” [spot the quote]). Ideally, also a terrific hand-and-a-half sword for zombie decapitation. Failing that, a hefty frying pan as wielded by Tiffany Aching, which is one of the few weapons capable of caving in skulls AND frying bacon.

AL – I just shuddered at the thought of surviving the zombie apocalypse, but having no way to fry bacon because of over-use of frying pans for caving in skulls… the horror

8 – I’m often mistaken for John Cusack (not by Nick, admittedly!). But who would play you in the movie of your life?

NR – Me. I do a bit of Am-Dram, so why not?

(AL – Nick recently appeared in a production of “One Man, Two Guv’nors” as the fantastically-named Alan Dangle, to rave reviews: https://babbitman.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/a-hoot/ )

NR – But if it’s a star you want, perhaps James McAvoy, although I think he might be a bit short. How about Michael Fassbender? I really have no idea. The soundtrack would be full of The Jam (& other Weller incarnations), Ska, 60s soul, The Charlatans and The Stone Roses. And my mate’s old band, Adorable.

AL – I could see Fassbender doing a creditable job of playing you. I’d definitely buy that soundtrack, too.

9 – Doc Brown pulls up outside your house in the DeLorean… He’s got a few hours to spare, and fuel for one return trip… Where/when are you heading?

NR – I am a history buff and it forms part of the desire to write my novel, so I’m really, really tempted to go back to… but no. Deep down, I’m still a small boy who wants to see dinosaurs. So sometime in the Jurassic, about 150 million years ago, around Colorado / Wyoming to see Stegosaurs and Allosaurs roaming the land.

AL – You might have to check the back seat before you go – my boys would want to tag along!

10 – Your beloved partner (real or imagined) is out for the evening, and your celebrity “pass” is popping round. (You know, the one celebrity who your partner would allow you to spend a night with, without it being considered cheating… that’s a thing, right?) Who knocks on your door?

NR – Is this a thing? I don’t know. Is it weird that I’ve never fantasized about a celebrity? I can’t name a single woman who I would be that bothered about ‘dating’. I think it’s because they’re not ‘real’ people. They might turn out to be utterly dreadful.

AL – In the eternal battle of fantasy vs reality, Nick has chosen… reality.

11 – You manage, fortuitously but entirely accidentally in a bizarre toaster incident to rid the world of its most dangerous inhabitant… Who do you call to help destroy the evidence, and burn that hairpiece?

NR – That would be you, Al. You’re relatively local and between us we should know enough to be able to get away with it (provided that we’re not discovered by some pesky kids).

AL – I know an abandoned fairground locally, and have an array of white sheets….

12 – Another apocalyptic scenario, only now the pet food is running out… You have a dog, a cat, and a rabbit, but only food supplies for two of them… Which one misses out?

NR – The bunny bites the bullet, helping to feed the other two. Might have to train them to find more rascally rabbits!

AL – As Elmer Fudd would say, “Kill the wa-bit!”

13 – In a line, any regrets??

NR – I used to really regret damaging my knee playing football, which means I can’t really run much these days and footie is now a distant memory. It also contributed to me being made redundant. But that was the catalyst to move sideways into a different department where I picked up additional skills enabling me to join another company paying more money and who flew me across to their offices in Florida, which allowed me to finally visit Kennedy Space Center on a day off, which was proper awesome.
So no, I don’t think I regret things any more. Carpe diem and all that.

So, a huge thank you to Nick (who is apparently my “blog son”) for coming to play and share himself. I hope his long-planned novel gains traction. I can’t wait to read it! Nick has been trying to get me to join him in testing out some performance poetry, so any folks in the Nottingham area may well be seeing us together on a stage sometime soon. We’re still undecided on a name… Feel free to make any suggestions in the comments!

Now, go and check out https://babbitman.wordpress.com/ . Share the love 🙂

Join us same time next week for another Dirty Dozen, where the lovely Ritu of https://butismileanyway.wordpress.com/ will be joining us for the last edition before a break for summer. She’s got some news she’s dying to share…

 

Do you fancy a turn in the hotseat when we return in September? (This is aimed at bloggers as well as writers, so don’t be shy!) Leave your email in the comments and I’ll be in touch 🙂

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen… with Liesbet Collaert

Welcome to another edition of The Dirty Dozen!

This is my spin on the author/blogger interview. This will hopefully create something entertaining and informative for you, the reader, while sharing what platform I have with some amazing and talented people. Not all of these questions are easy, but hopefully they will give you an insight into the person on the other side of the screen. Ultimately, blogging is all about making connections. Show your humanity, show your love, and support each other. Because really, what else is there?

This week, I’m delighted to be hosting Liesbet Collaert in the Dirty Dozen “hotseat”.

Liesbet is a blogger and world citizen, currently (quite literally) flying back to the USA after a short visit to Belgium in between global adventures! You can find more about her travels here – http://www.roamingabout.com/about-us/

Liesbet Tahiti
Liesbet looking radiant in Tahiti

1 – How in all the gin joints in all the world did you come across my blog?

LC – I found you, because you found me! You liked my blog and left a comment to one of my posts about my (lack of) book writing progress in March. So, I returned the favor, enjoyed what I read, loved the creativity and humor of your new site and became a fan.

AL – Thank you… the cheque’s in the international post 🙂

2 – You, in three words?

LC – Impulsive, straightforward, adventurous

3 – The last book/ film/ or album that you wish you’d made

LC – A well-written book in my genre: “The Motion of the Ocean” by Janna Cawrse Esarey. I wish I could tell my story in as fluent and entertaining voice. There are a few great books and movies I really like but I am not looking for the status and fame of the artists who created them.

4 – Where are you now on your writer’s / blogger’s journey?

LC – I finally started writing a book about the eight year cruising journey my husband and I took on our 35’ sailing catamaran Irie. It will focus more on relationships and battles in life than on the actual sailing. The story is set on our floating home and the tropical isles of the Caribbean and the South Pacific. My American husband and I have had many adventures together prior to this one, but, because we never “rested” (stopped traveling), writing a book about them was impossible. This year, we are taking a break from being on the road/the water to focus on our “careers” and trying to make more money than the pittance when we travel.

AL – (There is even a section on Liesbet’s website on “living frugally” – worth checking out if you think that travel needs to be expensive!)

LC – During our cruising years, I maintained the blog It’s Irie (www.itsirie.com), but being off the boat now and enjoying a lifestyle of house and pet sitting throughout the US, I started a new blog called Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary (www.roamingabout.com). It is a collection of experiences, thoughts and photos about our unique life and my writing “progress”.

Over the years, I have also written heaps of articles for well-known sailing magazines in the US, Europe and the Caribbean: http://www.roamingabout.com/published-articles/ Right now, my priority is my non-fiction book, having got through the A-Z Blogging Challenge!

5 – A lot of writers and bloggers enjoy taking part in quote challenges, and sharing inspiring nuggets to help their fellow bloggers along. Can you tell us through one piece of life / writing advice, or quote about life / writing, that you are absolutely sick of hearing, that really doesn’t do it for you?

LC – “Sailing means freedom” and the thought that long term travel is only for the rich. We’ve proven both adages wrong! Plus, the conception that traveling as a lifestyle is always glorious (“just like a vacation”) is totally untrue.

AL – Well, if anyone would know about the truth, rather than the romantic ideal, of sailing, then it’s you!

6 – Two true facts about you, and one lie…. Don’t tell us which is which.

1. US Homeland Security kicked me out of the country once
2. US Homeland Security made me return my Greencard
3. US Homeland Security made me get married

AL – I’m reading a subtext of issues with Homeland Security…

7 – The zombies rise and take over the world. You have five minutes to pack a bag and hit the road… You’ve got the essentials – water, tent, sleeping bag, vitamins, toothpaste, copy of Al’s zombie haiku survival guide (coming soon to all good e-retailers)… What else do you grab?

LC – My husband, my computer, my camera, my diary (and in the olden days pen and paper)

AL – Note to anyone else who replies – if you are going to include your life partner in the list, make sure they’re first, as here!

8 – I’m often mistaken for a young, tall Tom Cruise (that’s a total lie, by the way!) … But who would play you in the movie of your life?

LC – I’d like to play the role myself, in my desire to have as many experiences as possible in life, acting is something I haven’t done yet. But, since I have no acting talent (well, it wouldn’t be acting in the first place, if I played myself, right?) and since you probably don’t like that answer, Julia Roberts can be the actress, the Coen brothers are allowed to direct the movie and Eddie Vedder will come up with the perfect soundtrack.

AL – I could see Julia Roberts working… Great pairing there in the Coens and Vedder!

9 – Doc Brown pulls up outside your house in the DeLorean… He’s got a few hours to spare, and fuel for one return trip… Where/when are you heading?

LC – Who is Doc Brown? What is a DeLorean? I’m not good with popular culture, never having lived a settled life long enough to become engorged and I have a really bad memory, but apparently, we are talking about “Back in the Future”. Not someone to dwell on the past and being one who loves adventure, I have to admit that I do like the unknown quality of the future, and don’t want to know yet what’s next. So, I would take a trip back to 2001 to Sulawesi in Indonesia to join a British man I had fallen in love with – instead of giving that plan up after trying and failing to get a plane ticket from Sumatra – and see how that decision of being more persistent would have changed my whole future and life…

AL – That’s a big roll of the dice there… by the way, next time you travel the world, let me know and I’ll lend you my copy of Back to the Future for those quiet nights on the sea!

10 – Your beloved partner (real or imagined) is out for the evening, and your celebrity “pass” is popping round. (You know, the one celebrity who your partner would allow you to spend a night with, without it being considered cheating… that’s a thing, right?) Who knocks on your door?

LC – I feel like an idiot not having a quick answer for this question. I don’t really live in a fantasy world, my real life is exciting enough. Let me think… How about the Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, since I recently saw a movie with him and had no idea about his popularity, living on a boat in the middle of nowhere for many years? It would be awesome, to meet on American soil, talk Dutch to each other and exchange life stories. I would like to prepare Pad Thai and serve plum wine with it. That is after a mojito and shrimp cocktail and before signature wines to continue the evening. I’d offer him Baileys and Belgian chocolate for dessert. Or American chocolate chip cookies with Belgian morsels in it. The album “Into the Wild” is playing, followed by a mix of other favorites of mine. Until, I ask “Are you hungry… for something else?”

AL – If Matthias isn’t available, that would totally work on me… For those who don’t recognise the name, this is a picture of the not-entirely-unattractive Matthias Schoenaerts. I know I’m in danger of losing half the audience at this point!

matthias schonaerts
Matthias Schoenaerts looking radiant in my basement

11 – You manage, fortuitously but entirely accidentally in a bizarre toaster incident to rid the world of its most dangerous inhabitant… Who do you call to help destroy the evidence, and burn that hairpiece?

LC – My husband or my dad (I know, that is the most cliché answer).

12 – Another apocalyptic scenario, only now the pet food is running out… You have a dog, a cat, and a rabbit, but only food supplies for two of them… Which one misses out?

LC – The rabbit, because it makes good stew. Just kidding. Nobody misses out, since I will share my own food with the rabbit, or any animal that needs it.

AL – Top marks for finding a way around the problem, without sacrificing Thumper.

13 – In a line, any regrets??

LC – The idea is not to have any. Many quotes exist to confirm that sentiment. I’m doing my best with that one. So far, at 40, I don’t have any, except, maybe not making it to Sulawesi in 2001. But, that is more a curiosity matter than a regret. I did visit the island months later, with another man, an American this time… I only want to regret things that I did do, not things that I didn’t do.

AL – A perfect quote to end on!

So, a huge thank you to the Liesbet for sharing her fascinating story with us… and thanks no doubt for introducing some of us to Matthias Schoenaerts!

I look forward to following more of Liesbet’s adventures on her blog, and hope to see the book version in the near future 🙂 . Now, go and check out http://www.roamingabout.com/ and share the love!

 

Join us same time next week for another Dirty Dozen!

Do you fancy a turn in the hotseat? (This is aimed at bloggers as well as writers, so don’t be shy!) Leave your email in the comments and I’ll be in touch 🙂

 

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen… with Richard Archer!

Welcome to another edition of The Dirty Dozen!

This is my spin on the author/blogger interview. This will hopefully create something entertaining and informative for you, the reader, while sharing what platform I have with some amazing and talented people. Not all of these questions are easy, but hopefully they will give you an insight into the person on the other side of the screen. Ultimately, blogging is all about making connections. Show your humanity, show your love, and support each other. Because really, what else is there?

This week, I’m delighted to be hosting Richard Archer (aka “Skaggy The Poet”) in the Dirty Dozen “hotseat”.

Richard is a poet who blogs and performs on a regular basis as part of the Walsall Poetry Society. He has a poetry book out – https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/buy-my-book/ – and you can follow more on his blog at – https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/

I asked Richard for a cheery picture. He sent me this one…

Pic for Al

1 – How in all the gin joints in all the world did you come across my blog?
Most days I do a random search on WordPress using the tag poem or poetry and see what turns up. One day your site appeared and I liked what I read so I decided to stick around, when I read your poems about the Walking Dead I knew I had made the right choice.

Yay! I’m planning more on The Walking Dead… maybe a romantic sonnet or two for Lucille 🙂

2 – You, in three words?
O.C.P. – Obsessive Compulsive Poet

(My inner nerd notes that these letters were used for the name of the all-powerful corporation in the original Robocop film, and smiles at the irony)

3 – The last book/ film/ or album that you wish you’d made
Every time I listen to the Professor Elemental album “Ape Quest,” I think I wish I’d thought of that. If you like steampunk chap-hop then this is the concept album for you as the Professor travels time and space to find his missing butler who is also an ape named Geoffrey.

I’d never heard of this before, but you can check it out on youtube. Bet you’ve never heard anything like it! This made me laugh out loud repeatedly. “Come take a look at my time travel trousers!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSXI6l5rubQ

4 – Where are you now on your writer’s / blogger’s journey?
I’m in the middle of working on three books of poetry. The first is a collection of poems from around my local area (the West Midlands in the UK), the second is a collection of poems with another poet from my home town of Walsall and last but not least I’m writing another book of poems to follow up my book “Beer Froth” which was published last year.

5 – A lot of writers and bloggers enjoy taking part in quote challenges, and sharing inspiring nuggets to help their fellow bloggers along. Can you tell us though one piece of life / writing advice, or quote about life / writing, that you are absolutely sick of hearing, that really doesn’t do it for you?
A lot of people when they know you write poetry try to be helpful with advice that often goes as follows…
“Listen to this you’ll get a real kick out of it and I bet it would make a great poem.”
To me poetry is my personal views and interpretations of events, stuff has to mean something to me to enable me to write about it. However I often say to the advice profferer “that’s great why don’t you write a poem about it?” Hoping to help another writer.

I’ve had the same. Working in an office and the toner runs out halfway through a big print run… “ooh you could write a poem about that”. Yes, because these are the moments I want to capture!

6 – Two true facts about you, and one lie…. Don’t tell us which is which.
I failed my English Literature studies at school and hated poetry cursing it almost daily during my time in the education system.
I have appeared on TV talking about poetry.
I was once booed off at an open mic when I read a version of the Lord’s Prayer that I had rewritten to be about doughnuts.

Well, doughnuts are heavenly…

7 – The zombies rise and take over the world. You have five minutes to pack a bag and hit the road… You’ve got the essentials – water, tent, sleeping bag, vitamins, toothpaste, copy of Al’s zombie haiku survival guide (coming soon to all good e-retailers)… What else do you grab?
As I have foot problems and I figure I’m going to be doing a lot of walking I wouldn’t go anywhere without a pair of comfy insoles. Plus pen and paper the apocalypse needs poetry and I will probably literally get to test whether the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

I applaud the practical approach to footwear – it’s easily overlooked. But you might want to keep a sword as back-up to your trusty pen. I know D. Wallace Peach will be carrying a sword, for one thing!

8 – Who would play you in the movie of your life?
I think David Tennant would make a good me in a film entitled “From pork scratchings to poetry and back again.” As for the director I don’t want subtle so let’s have Quentin Tarantino working from a Paul Cornell screenplay with a Professor Elemental score.

Get Jason Statham on board too and I think this is a runner.

9 – Doc Brown pulls up outside your house in the DeLorean… He’s got a few hours to spare, and fuel for one return trip… Where/when are you heading?
Back to the eighties to visit myself at school. It’s time for a long overdue chat where I explain to myself that to get qualifications you actually have to attend school not spend all your time in second-hand record shops or the pub.

Isn’t this what youth is about though? And why wouldn’t you share the winning lottery numbers too (or at least Leicester winning the Football Premiership at odds of 5000-1)??

10 – Your beloved partner (real or imagined) is out for the evening, and your celebrity “pass” is popping round. (You know, the one celebrity who your partner would allow you to spend a night with, without it being considered cheating… that’s a thing, right?) Who knocks on your door?
I’ve always had a thing for Drew Barrymore so if she popped round I would have to attempt my signature dish of spag bol washed down with copious amounts of decent craft beer. We would dance to the dulcet tones of Cecilia Bartoli and when I pass out and she says “shall I call an ambulance? “ It’s probably the end of dinner.

It’s the stuff of romantic legends…

11 – You manage, fortuitously but entirely accidentally in a bizarre toaster incident to rid the world of its most dangerous inhabitant… Who do you call to help destroy the evidence, and burn that hairpiece?
Jean Reno the “cleaner” from La Femme Nikita, one of Luc Besson’s earliest and greatest films.

Richard’s taking no chances here!

12 – Another apocalyptic scenario, only now the pet food is running out… You have a dog, a cat, and a rabbit, but only food supplies for two of them… Which one misses out?
I figure dogs and cats can sort of fend for themselves so I’ll take the rabbit. I think never having owned one (we have an urban fox problem where I live) makes me curious as to what sort of pets they make.

Hurray! A win for the rabbit at last! Although having previously owned some, I would caution that they make rather disappointing pets…

13 – In a line, any regrets??
I’ve had a few I wouldn’t be lying but one wasn’t affecting my life as badly as I thought until I answered these questions!

So, a huge thank you to Richard for sharing, including those details about Drew Barrymore’s dream date, his envy of Professor Elemental’s chap-hop stylings, and acting as the humble rabbit’s last hope in the end times!

I hugely look forward to his future poems and books. Now, go and check out https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/ and share the love 🙂

Join us same time next week for another Dirty Dozen!

Do you fancy a turn in the hotseat? (This is aimed at bloggers as well as writers, so don’t be shy!) Leave your email in the comments and I’ll be in touch 🙂

 

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen… with Denis Young!

Welcome to another edition of The Dirty Dozen!

This is my own spin on the author/blogger interview. It will hopefully create something entertaining and informative for you, the reader, while sharing what platform I have with the amazing and talented people who have so bravely (foolishly?) volunteered to take part. Not all of these questions are easy, but hopefully they will give you an insight into the person on the other side of the screen. Ultimately, blogging is all about making connections. Show your humanity, show your love, and support each other. Because really, what else is there?

This week, I’m delighted to be hosting Denis Young in the Dirty Dozen “hotseat”.

Denis is a fellow haiku-obsessive from Melbourne, Australia, who is passionate about the environment, about photography, about Afghan hounds, and about Rupert Murdoch… as you’ll see below! Please go and check out his wonderful blog at https://haikuhound.wordpress.com/

1 – How in all the gin joints in all the world did you come across my blog?
In two words, Ronovan Writes. In a few more- when I decided to share my love of images I capture on camera and their accompanying haiku the idea of creating a blog came to mind. Months later and very few visitors to my site I was wondering what to do. My main supporter and visitor was Sue Vincent of Daily Echo and the small dog ANI, who writes amazing haiku with incredible images (Sue does as well). I kept seeing her reference to Ronovan Writes challenge so I dropped in and the world of haiku sharing through blogs exploded upon me. Many visits and visitors later one of the true exponents of haiku has become a regular I must read and learn from each week. That of course is you Al.

Thanks Denis. I wonder how many blogs have been connected through Ronovan’s haiku challenge? I know most of mine began there, connecting with fellow haiku-ers, and expanding outwards from there

2 – You, in three words?
Environmentalist, egalitarian, humanist- optimist (and lover of Afghan Hounds)

3 – The last film that you wish you’d made?
This is a tough one. Any film with Meryl Streep in it just to learn life from her, an amazing woman who could have been the first female President of the USA if she had wanted to.

4 – Where are you now on your writer’s / blogger’s journey?
Well, I am a late developer in terms of fiction. I started writing for money in the late 1990’s and this was brainstorming teaching ideas and text segments for History/Geography/Social Science text books for junior secondary school students and teachers. I did this kind of writing until 2014 on and off as a hobby, spare cash earner. In all my name is on about 20 books as a co-author. And I was smart enough to use some of my own photos sometimes and still get regular copyright requests for reprints.

I have started planning /drafting /researching my first novel. It is a family based story linked by the Japanese army sword brought back to my grandmother in 1945 by a soldier who had been with her son, (my uncle) when he was killed in battle. This story drifts across the life of my uncle and his family up to now, it interconnects with a fictional family of the Japanese officer who died holding the sword. Currently the sword sits in my clothes cupboard and is an item of intense family bitterness. There is a lot of emotional demons / family dysfunctionality / dreams unfulfilled / lessons to learn / and pure imagination in this story. Wish me luck everyone!

My other writing love is haiku. On the haiku hound blog you and your readers can read some of my haiku and share images of my life and the places I visit. I belong to Writer’s Victoria here in Melbourne and meet monthly with a bi-lingual Japanese Australian haiku writers group. We also read our haiku to other poets a couple of times a year.

Last year I attended a writer’s workshop to help organise thoughts for my novel. After one creative session I had a planned draft for a children’s book. The subject is a sheep who escapes into the Aussie bush for a few years and hangs out with kangaroos and gets up to other adventures. Many kilos of accumulated wool later she returns to the outside world to fame and acclaim. The group on that day were excited by the potential of my story, so if there is an illustrator reading Al’s interview and we agree on a contract there is a book on the way.

Having been a self-described late developer, there’s no shortage of ideas fizzing around in Denis’s head. I particularly look forward to the novel based around the sword, if those emotional demons can be channelled into the story. Good luck!

5 – A lot of writers and bloggers enjoy taking part in quote challenges, and sharing inspiring nuggets to help their fellow bloggers along. Can you tell us though one piece of life / writing advice, or quote about life / writing, that you are absolutely sick of hearing, that really doesn’t do it for you?
32 years of secondary school teaching led me to believe that advice is a dangerous word. Guidance through practical positive example works for me. I ignore quote challenges and inspiring nuggets. Does this make sense? Basically I don’t look for such stimulation and don’t participate.

Denis is clearly an advocate in life as well as on the page in “show, not tell”.

6 – Two true facts about you, and one lie…. Don’t tell us which is which.
How can I lie Al? Even in jest?
I remained a secondary school teacher for 32 years straight and believe I made the right career choice
I have been a University Lecturer
I am utterly absorbed in Japanese culture and language.

7 – The zombies rise and take over the world. You have five minutes to pack a bag and hit the road… You’ve got the essentials – water, tent, sleeping bag, vitamins, toothpaste, boomerang… What else do you grab?
A large poster of Rupert Murdoch… rumours hint that it does to zombies what a crucifix and garlic does to vampires!

So, Denis, you’re not fan of Mr Murdoch then!

8 – I’m often mistaken for John Cusack (quiet at the back). But who would play you in the movie of your life?
George Clooney would be me, with a little make up work (sorry George). Sofia Coppola would direct. Denis Young would write the screenplay of course. Lisa Gerrard would score the soundtrack.

9 – Emmett Brown pulls up outside your house in the DeLorean… He’s got a few hours to spare, and fuel for one return trip… Where/when are you heading?
I would be heading for my current location in Melbourne in the year 2116. When I get back I would have the hard evidence for climate change deniers in Australia and worldwide, (but especially in Political Australia now) to shove up their….mouths… and bring on immediate rapid response to reduce CO2 emissions and speed up renewable energy use , assuming we don’t get a rapid response in the next 5 years.

A passionate response there. Denis literally wants to save the world. I feel guilty now about wanting to use it to go and just have a few glasses of mead with Shakespeare….

10 – Your beloved partner (real or imagined) is out for the evening, and your celebrity “pass” is popping round. (You know, the one celebrity who your partner would allow you to spend a night with, without it being considered cheating… that’s a thing, right?) Who knocks on your door?
Meryl Streep knocks on the door. I make a wicked gluten free chicken pie with steamed organic veggies. Dessert would be green tea ice cream and organic raspberries. We drink Temple Bruer organic preservative free Pinot Noir. I play the soundtrack to August Osage County and keep repeating Lay Down Sally by Clapton very loud, and it sounds great on my B & O system.
The night ends with the line, “well Meryl it’s been a lovely evening but we’re both busy people and both need an early night, I’ll call a taxi”…

A fantastically detailed response there. It’s amazing how often I ask people this question and they claim never to have thought about it… and then provide an answer like this 😉

11 – You manage, fortuitously but entirely accidentally in a bizarre toaster incident to rid the world of its most dangerous inhabitant… Who do you call to help destroy the evidence, and burn that hairpiece?
I guess it was dumb of me to leave the hairpiece attached to the back of his scalp when I suggested an industrial toaster as the quickest means to freshen it up a bit.
I would call in an experimental Chinese Bio Tech team who could actually maintain a near perfect walking, talking, grinning, slightly zombie-like reconstruction including hairpiece. No-one would know he had unfortunately accidentally expired except perhaps the wife who would be known to exclaim at times that she no longer felt old age creeping up on her.

This made me laugh out loud… I think Denis has rumbled my “code” about the hairpiece!

12 – Another apocalyptic scenario, only now the pet food is running out… You have a dog, a cat, and a rabbit, but only food supplies for two of them… Which one misses out?
I am truly an animal lover and even carefully catch spiders and wasps when they are inside and release them at the local kindergarten. So this really causes anguish. Charlie as any of my blog readers would know was a wonderful dog, so the dog stays. Whilst cats don’t have the loyalty of dogs I guess the cat stays. Charlie came from a rural background and her family of dogs dispatched many rabbits away when they trespassed into the run paddock. Therefore, rationally I guess, the dog and cat could extend their food supply with fresh rabbit. I am very sorry to all rabbit lovers but Al insists.

My job application for the Rabbit Protection League seems to have been rejected. Can’t think why…

13 – In a line, any regrets??
I am a firm believer that our life unfurls as we have it predestined. Karma is karma. So Al, I have no regrets because I live the life I am programmed for. Also readers you must remember once you wish you changed one action or incident in your life everything after that would have been different. That means none of you would be reading Al’s interview now. However, in my parallel universe………..

Thanks for this opportunity Al.
Any commercial or other offers can be handled through Al for a 5% commission.

I thought we agreed 15%?…

 

So, a huge thank you to the passionate, plain-speaking Denis Young for sharing himself with us, a retired school teacher George Clooney-look-a-like who wants to save the world from climate change and Rupert Murdoch… while working on his menu for entertaining Meryl Streep.

I wish him the best of luck with completing his first book, and look forward to more of his wonderful haiku and photography in the meantime. Now, go and check out his blog, and share the love 🙂

Join us same time next week for another Dirty Dozen!

Do you fancy a turn in the hotseat, with a new batch of questions? (This is aimed at bloggers as well as writers, so don’t be shy!) Leave your email in the comments and I’ll be in touch 🙂

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen, with Judy Martin

Welcome to another edition of The Dirty Dozen!

I read, and enjoy, a lot of blog posts with blogger/author interviews, so this is my own spin on that. This will hopefully create something entertaining and informative for you, the reader, while sharing what platform I have with the amazing and talented people who have bravely volunteered to take part. Not all of these questions are easy, but hopefully they will give you an insight into the person on the other side of the screen. Ultimately, blogging is all about making connections.

Show your humanity, show your love, and support each other. Because really, what else is there?

This week, I’m delighted to be hosting Judy Martin in the Dirty Dozen “hotseat”.

Judy is a prolific and engaging blogger-poet, who has just completed NaPoWriMo, and has recently released her first self-published collection of poetry – Rhymes of the Times. One Amazon reviewer described this as “Whimsy and fun with a side of ‘sauce’ “, and I completely agree! You can find it here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rhymes-Times-lighthearted-through-rhyme/dp/1530270634 and her blog is at:  http://edwinasepisodes.com/

1 – How in all the gin joints in all the world did you come across my blog?

I think I came across your blog on either Ronovan’s or TJ’s haiku challenges. I loved your sense of humour, and you write a bloody good limerick, that is why I stay around. Well, that and the fact that you are a brilliant interactor with others and also very supportive.  Right, that’s your lot for compliments!

(Can’t blame a guy for trying!)

 

2 – You, in three words?

Clumsy, eccentric and silly

 

3 – The last book/ film/ or album that you wish you’d made

Oh, this is tricky.  I wish that I had made Michael Jackson’s Thriller! What an innovative album that was in so many ways.

(Note to self – did I just write a whole month of zombie stuff without mentioning Thriller? Bad Al…)

 

4 – Where are you now on your writer’s / blogger’s journey ?

Well, I have self-published my book of rhymes ‘Rhymes of the Times’ and am editing ‘To Have and to Harm’ a book about a turbulent marriage.  As for my blog, I do not intend to give that up, I love it, and the other bloggers too!

 

5 – A lot of writers and bloggers enjoy taking part in quote challenges, and sharing inspiring nuggets to help their fellow bloggers along. Can you tell us though one piece of life / writing advice, or quote about life / writing, that you are absolutely sick of hearing, that really doesn’t do it for you?

I love taking part in the challenges and finding inspirational quotes.  I can’t think of anything that I get sick of hearing, specifically but ‘buzz words’ get on my nerves a bit. For example when people always say ‘going forward….’  What is that all about? I hope that we are all going forward, we would be bloody silly to keep going backwards (Hopefully, I am not guilty of using this one)!

(I completely agree with Judy on this one. I caught myself saying “going forward” in a meeting once, and wanted to throw myself over the balcony!)

 

6 – Two true facts about you, and one lie…. Don’t tell us which is which.

I have a small tattoo of a dolphin on my lower back

I have my belly button pierced

I have 2 gold teeth

 

7 – The zombies rise and take over the world. You have five minutes to pack a bag and hit the road… You’ve got the essentials – water, tent, sleeping bag, vitamins, toothpaste, signed Dolph Lundgren photos from Rocky IV… What else do you grab?

My laptop! My family of course, my phone!  I can still be connected to those I haven’t managed to bring with me.

(Let’s hope we deal with the zombies quickly, before the battery on the phone and laptop run out! Also note that laptop came before family… 🙂 )

 

8 – I’m often mistaken for John Cusack (…). But who would play you in the movie of your life?

I have been told not once but TWICE that I looked like (British TV personality) Vanessa Feltz (when she was large)!  I would like someone funny to play me, perhaps Jennifer Aniston or Cameron Diaz. I don’t know anything much about directors or screenplay writers but the ones who were involved with ‘Shrek’ would be wonderful! As for the soundtrack, Elton John maybe.

(I’d definitely watch this movie… I’ve also been told I look like the “large” Irish comedian Dara O’Briain… such comparisons are not great for the ego!)

 

9 – Doc Emmett Brown pulls up outside your house in the DeLorean… He’s got a few hours to spare, and fuel for one return trip… Where/when are you heading?

Hmmmm. Part of me would love to go back to the 1950s so that I could enjoy the fashions and the music, but I rather fancy myself as a Victorian lady daintily doing my needlepoint!

Sense AND Sensibility there from Judy!)

 

10 – Your beloved partner (real or imagined) is out for the evening, and your celebrity “pass” is popping round. (You know, the one celebrity who your partner would allow you to spend a night with, without it being considered cheating… that’s a thing, right?) Who knocks on your door?

Oh no, which one should I choose? I think I will go with Dolph Lundgren.  I have never been any good at all the romantic evening stuff, with my awkwardness and clumsy manner I am surprised I ever got any more than one date!  Well I would cook up a good old roast chicken dinner, not too complicated and a big guy like that needs a hearty meal. I thinks something chocolately for pud  to ‘get us in the mood’  although we would probably be to stuffed to move!

 Now music choices over dinner, well Barry White is a bit too obvious, and I should show a bit of class I suppose, so what about a bit of Human League, or a compilation of 80s hits that we could sing along to! As for the line that signals the end of dinner, I am CRAP at come-on lines, and they would either be too cheesy or too obscure.  It would probably be something mundane like “shall we sit somewhere more comfy?” Oh God, that sounds really naff but then, that is me!

(I love the fact that this section starts with “which one should I choose?”  Other interviewees have been more coy, but Judy obviously has a shortlist!)

 

11 – You manage, fortuitously but entirely accidentally in a bizarre toaster incident to rid the world of its most dangerous inhabitant… Who do you call to help destroy the evidence, and burn that hairpiece?

Well my two sisters would not only help but would cover for me as well!

 

12 – Another apocalyptic scenario, only now the pet food is running out… You have a dog, a cat, and a rabbit, but only food supplies for two of them… Which one misses out?

Oooh Al, what a cruel question to ask, I am sorry but the bunny gets missed out L Poor little ball of fluff. 

(The bunnies are not faring well in this apocalypse situation…)

 

13 – In a line, any regrets??

Only that I used my brain a lot more when I was younger!

 

So, a huge thank you to the clumsy but adorable Judy Martin for sharing herself with us, including those very detailed plans for her night with Dolph, dreams of Victorian needlepoint, and how her first thought in case of disaster is to grab her laptop… and then her family! Going forward…

I wish her the best of luck with editing her next book, and look forward to that being released in due course. Now, go and check out her blog, buy Rhymes of the Times, share the love 🙂

Join us same time next week for another Dirty Dozen!

Do you fancy a turn in the hotseat, with a new batch of questions? (This is aimed at bloggers as well as writers, so don’t be shy!) Leave your email in the comments and I’ll be in touch 🙂

The Dirty Dozen