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Who are you? It's a very good question

A while ago I approached an independent bookshop and asked if it would be possible to organise an author event. In the middle of giving some background about the book and my authorial journey the woman on the end of the phone said… But are you somebody?  I could only conclude that she meant… somebody well known.

            I blustered a bit … I mean what do you say to that?  My family know me well, fellow writers, friends, clients, some bloggers and readers but if you’re asking me if I am a celeb then sorry to disappoint. Her reasoning seemed to be that they get so many requests from writers, and heaven help us, including self- published ones that they’ve had to draw up a criteria. Being a nobody isn’t on there.

            Shock was the dominant emotion when I hung up. I stared at the phone for a few seconds, hardly believing my ears. Oh how I wished I’d recorded the conversation but you don’t think such a measure is necessary do you? Not unless you’re working in a call centre where the level of abuse from customers is climbing. I didn’t even have the presence of mind to ask for her name or speak to the manager. Maybe she was the manager without being managerial.

            Where’s this preamble leading you ask?  There are times in life when we feel compelled to go deep inside and ask ourselves those searching questions. Who am I? What is my place in the world? How can I best serve?  

            When we ask ourselves this question, it’s an indication of an identity struggle- not necessarily a crisis – but the sense of me/I/myself has become fuzzy round the edges. It’s like looking at your reflection in a frosted mirror.

Questioning who we are is an ongoing process which requires a constant re-framing, a willingness to embrace the ever changing landscape that is our backdrop. The perception of who I was three years ago has shifted to a more comfortable sense of self today because I allowed the change to happen naturally with no pre-conceived ideas of who I should be. There lies the rub. The book-shop gatekeeper implied that in order to be offered an event slot, I should be someone who is worth it.  

            It seems to me that being somebody equates with YouTube stardom. If you can promote a super-duper way of applying mascara or reveal to the world that you a light-worker channelling the Pleiadians and have a million plus followers then star spangled doors of opportunity will automatically fling open and welcome you because you are A Somebody.  Forgive my cynicism here.

            But wait. There are benefits to being a nobody. It’s not our successes which mops up that fuzziness around the ego but our failures. We learn humility, the art of giving without expecting anything in return and we no longer have to jump up and down on our personal trampoline to be seen. We can simply be. The best thing is we don’t have to take ourselves so seriously. There’s no pretence, no need to perform or or lose our sense of authenticity just to tick someone else’s boxes.

            One thing I can share, being an oldie, is that the first half of life seems to be about becoming somebody important/famous/rich/successful and the second half is about divesting ourselves of that illusion. Without this pressure, we can become who we really are.

            So had my normally mercurial mind been activated during that conversation, I would have said this. ‘ I am someone who is generous with my time, a giver, an energiser, a motivator. Someone who is real, who engages, who co-operates and is a decent person. If I didn’t say so earlier, I happen to have written two original, well- reviewed books set in your city where I lived for twenty five years. That makes me the somebody you are really looking for, don’t you think? ’

I didn’t say any of those things. Instead, I did the very British thing of apologising.  ‘Sorry to have troubled you.’



An interview with the author of Eyes of the Blind

It’s always a delight to meet writers who understand their craft in order to produce beautiful prose in addition to writing a compelling and unusual story. It’s my real pleasure to introduce you to Alex Tresillian, author of Eyes of the Blind, published by Urbane Publications. Alex lives in rural Worcestershire which I guess makes us neighbours.

Alex kindly agreed to talk about his writing life for my blog.

Alex, what would you like your readers to know about your writing background?

 Been writing creatively since I first knew how to hold a pen. Remember my father typing up two poems I wrote when very small. Have a lot of unfinished novels from my teens. Wrote mostly plays thereafter (my parents worked in the theatre), and was able to stage some myself when working as a teacher, which I did for more than twenty years. Working for an education company in Lebanon, I authored two series of text books, one on grammar (something I greatly enjoy!) and one on writing.

What inspired you to write Eyes of the Blind?

 I worked for eleven years in a school for visually impaired students. It was something that nothing could prepare you for. Having had that window into the blind world, it was something that I thought would be interesting to share, and a believable blind protagonist would be an unusual twist in the crowded thriller genre.

I understand you write in long hand. How long does it take to write a first draft?  Why do you choose this method over a computer/laptop? Is it a labour of love?

I don't see it as a labour of love: it is just how I work. I am anything but a technophobe, and actually type pretty fast. However, I find it very difficult to create when typing, whether it is because words are broken down into their individual letters as you type them (or, even worse, auto-suggested) I don't know. When I am writing I often write two or sometimes three options of verbs/prepositions one above the other and select when re-reading later.  I don't even know how I would begin to do it on a laptop. It is almost as though writing, for me, is a physical process, like sculpting. I literally 'work' on sentences even though the medium is just ink and paper. I was given my first typewriter (a cast-off of my father's) when I was about ten - a manual with the line spacer partially broken - and I have always loved the process of transferring my manuscript to typescript. For me it is a major part of the drafting/editing process. Mentally it would never suit me to write complete draft after complete draft. I would find that soul-destroying. The drafting and redrafting takes place on the pages of my notebook. I will still make changes after printing out a complete draft (in pen!), but would be unlikely to start again from scratch unless someone had given me a large advance!


What is your daily writing schedule? Do you have any quirky routines to keep you going?


I write in the morning. I have always been a morning person. If I can't get any done in the morning, then I don't do any that day. It doesn't matter what time I get up, whether it is six or nine, I will write for about an hour after breakfast. Sometimes, if it is really flowing, I might stretch to an hour and a half, although I am suspicious when it is flowing too easily. I reckon to write about 500 words of a book like Eyes of the Blind in that time. I might only manage 300 of something more 'literary'. However, for me the slow pace suits the creative process. If I write too much too quickly, the writing may be fine but the level of ideas goes down. Because I only have the most basic outline of where a book is going, I need plenty of time for the ideas to gel and grow while the writing is going on. So I will never write for more than that hour, although I may spend the rest of the day thinking about what might come next. I used to go for 'writing walks' in which I would think out the next phase of whatever I was writing, but parenthood and life in general taught me to do my thinking alongside regular daily activities.

I don't have any quirky activities to keep me going. I never mind missing a day or days because I know that it will all add to the creative melting pot when I do get back to work. The working session always begins with re-reading the previous day's or days' work, and changes often get made then.


You are traditionally published. What are your views on self-publishing? 

I have always taken the view that it was vanity. Yes, the publishing world is flooded with books and you almost certainly need luck to get your head above the parapet, but I am not convinced I would get much satisfaction from a self-published book.

 What advice would you give to writers working on their debut novel?

 Get to the end. It's a great feeling. Don't try to write like anyone else, write like you. Write it because you need/want to write it, not because you dream of being a best-seller. Whatever happens afterwards, don't give up. We are writers because that is what we do, not necessarily because the rest of the world recognises us as such.


Finally the moment those of us who have read Eyes of the Blind are waiting for; - The Sequel! What can you tell us about that without spoiling the anticipation?

Blind Justice takes us back into the world of the two main characters, Niall and Miranda, nearly a year after the events of Eyes of the Blind. Niall investigates a charity that is helping to empower disabled people through sport, and finds himself in the murky world of state-sponsored doping in athletics. Miranda returns to the British Association for the Blind, where much has changed but all is still not well. Before long, both find themselves at risk in more ways than one...


Eyes of the Blind is available on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eyes-Blind-truth-sometimes-plain-ebook/dp/B01NAAWBCR

This is a fantastic debut novel that will have you gripped from beginning to end. I read it in a few days and highly recommend it. I have some knowledge of children and young adults who are VI and Alex captures their struggles and strengths brilliantly. I do hope there is a second book coming soon.


Blind Justice is published by Urbane Publications and is published on July 5th 2018


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