Jackie Law – Blogger in the Spotlight

Jackie Law

Today I’m pleased to welcome Jackie as my Blogger in the Spotlight. Jackie blogs as NeverImitate and you can visit her fab blog here: https://neverimitate.wordpress.com/

Thanks for agreeing to be part of my Blogger in the Spotlight feature. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?

I am a middle aged wife, mother, hen keeper and writer living in rural Wiltshire with my husband and three teenage children. I was born and raised in Belfast at the height of the Troubles, moving to England when I graduated from university. I was an IT Consultant specialising in financial services for ten years and met my husband at work. We now run our own, small IT Company.

I was absolutely career oriented until the midwife placed our first child in my arms. I realised then that I could not trust anyone else to look after this precious gift. Our three children were born over a three and a half year period and I did not go out socially for over five years. I worked from home and became very isolated.

Now that my kids are growing up – my first child left for university in London last month – I feel that I need to reassert my independence. My writing is helping hugely with this as it is both an intellectual challenge and a window to a world that I enjoy being a small part of.

What books/authors did you enjoy as a child?

The first books I remember reading for myself are Dear Teddy Robinson, Ponder and William, and the Adventures of Galdora. I devoured almost anything by Enid Blyton: The Famous Five, Girls of St Clare’s, Malory Towers; I also read and reread the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Hornblower saga by CS Forester, and I loved Sherlock Holmes.

When I was fourteen I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I found the latter a challenge after so many easier reads but the story was good and inspired me to seek out what I thought of as adult books. For no reason I can remember I ended up reading Jeffery Archer and then many, many forgettable romances. This is now a genre that I avoid!

What made you want to start blogging?

It started as therapy. I suffer from social anxiety and was struggling to leave the house let alone talk to anyone outside my family. A friend had a blog and, inspired by her, I decided to write down what I was thinking in an attempt to rationalise my feelings. For a little over a year the majority of my posts were very personal. Putting it down in words helped me to put the anxious thoughts aside.

Eventually I managed to say everything that I wished to say in public, but found that I still wanted to write. I started reviewing the books I was reading and discovered that book blogging was a thing. I love where this has led me. I do sometimes wonder if I should have started a new blog for my bookish posts but I consider it to be my space and don’t wish to be constrained.

I did create a second blog for my short stories. I write flash and micro fiction, although now only rarely. When I started with this I put links on various challenge sites and got some positive feedback. Then I started to get negative feedback. It gave me an insight into the difficulties that authors face. I have such a huge admiration for their skill and determination in taking a story to the finish line and setting it free. I want to support them in any way I can.

What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I need to write. It started as a form of therapy and has now become a necessary part of my efforts to stabilise my mental health. When I publish a personal piece these days it is often because I am in a difficult place.

Most of my posts are, however, book reviews and related pieces. I enjoy the interactions with other writers, authors, publicists and the book selling community. I feel that I can be myself here, something that I struggle with more locally.

Tell me about your blog – sell yourself!

Oh dear, I have never been much good at selling myself.

I want to support authors by doing my little bit to raise the profile of their book. Having said that, I write my reviews primarily for future readers so will always make them honest. The honesty can be a bit awkward if I don’t like the book and know the author will read my review.

I hope that my blog is informative, a reference for readers looking for something they might enjoy.

I do get a buzz when publishers pick up on something that I have written. Being quoted on the back cover of a book I loved brought a big smile to my face.

What’s your favourite book you’ve reviewed so far this year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose.

You do realise how hard a question that is?

A Little life’ by Hanya Yanagihara blew me away. I couldn’t fault it but realise it will not appeal to everyone.

‘Yellow Room’ by Shelan Rodger is such an exquisite example of compelling story telling I must include it.

As I am only allowed one more I will opt for ‘Beauty Tips for Girls’ by Margaret Montgomery which has so many layers for the reader who chooses to see. I loved it.

What are you reading just now?

I read several books a week so this is a moving target. Let me mention a recent read that particularly impressed, ‘Playthings’ by Alex Pheby, to be published by Galley Beggars this month.  I am particularly fond of the small presses as their lists tend to be so carefully curated. 
The book is based on the true story of Paul Schreber, a nineteenth century German judge who suffered from what was then diagnosed as dementia praecox, today known as paranoid schizophrenia. Schreber wrote a book describing his psychotic experiences and ‘Playthings’ is the author’s take on Schreber’s life. Written in the first person it is both disturbing and fascinating.

Tell me about your reading habits:  book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?

Last year my husband allowed me to commission a carpenter to turn what had been our dining room into a library. I can now sit on my comfy chair, feet up, surrounded by books; this is where I go to read. I also have my desk in there to write at, and a piano that I play very badly. It is my space and one of the few places where I feel totally relaxed.

I read most during the day when I have the house to myself. I don’t read ebooks.

How can people follow your blog or connect with you on social media?

My blog: https://neverimitate.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/followthehens

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zeudytigre

And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

I would be Winnie-the Pooh, who believed he had a very little brain but nevertheless had some wise words to share and was much loved.

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

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