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?
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/
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.”