Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Introducing ... Lesley Cookman




And now we are seven!
So pleased to have Lesley (perfect Lady Novelist and mad cat lady?) as the newest member of our team. Here she is introducing herself with those dreaded three words:

I was delighted to be invited to join Novel Points of View and not so delighted to  be invited to choose three words to describe my creativity!

I think the first would, unfortunately, be “enforced”. I have been a working writer for over 32 years. I know that, because I started when I was pregnant with my third child, who is now 32. I wrote as a freelance, first for Which Computer and subsequently for its stable mates Business Matters, Small Business Matters and various other trade journals. I had always written, inspired by my favourite books as a child, such as Elizabeth Goudge’s Little White Horse, Monica Edwards’ Romney Marsh series (I write pieces for the Monica Edwards society’s magazine now) and Pamela Brown’s Blue Doors series, but never thought I could do it as a job. Instead, I became a model, an air stewardess, actor, disc jockey in a night club...you name it, I’ve done it. When I wrote the first of my Libby Sarjeant series it was the 20,000 words of a dissertation which prompted Accent Press’s Hazel Cushion to buy it. So I had to finish the b... sorry, the novel. Ever since, each book has become harder, so yes, sorry, “Enforced”.

The second word would be “comforting”. I write what I like to read, and none of it is alarming. I write about the Kentish countryside because that’s where I live – well, in a seaside town, actually -  and it’s all very – yes – comforting, and feels like being enfolded in a familiar blanket. I also have murders. But the one thing my readers tell me is that when they pick up a new book it’s like meeting old friends. The books have evolved into different situations for a group of friends to explore, and naturally, because of  my own background there’s theatre in there, too.

Which brings me to my third word, “theatrical”. I made my first professional appearance on the stage in a London “fringe” theatre, although we didn’t call them that, back in the Dark Ages. Since then, after having my children, I have done a lot of work for my local theatre, The Playhouse, Whitstable. I have become a bit of an expert on pantomime (I’ll bore anybody) and had a book commissioned back in the nineties on how to write one. It’s still in print in its third edition, believe it  or not, with a foreword by Roy Hudd. I’ve written and had produced and published (they earn me my holiday money) seven pantomimes, and at the behest of the British Music Hall Society, one “Music Hall Musical”, which has now formed the basis of my new Edwardian series, The Alexandrians. I used to be the editor of the BMHS journal, “The Call Boy”, and had access to some of the greats before they popped off to the great Green Room in the sky.

Music plays a huge part in my life and always has. My father was half of a singing duo, I married a musician and produced four of them. I am extremely proud of them all, although none of us will ever have a great deal of money (especially the one who is a published poet. Poor soul.). I am now a widow (horrible word. Conjures up black lace veils), a grandmother (even worse) to two smalls and the slave to two cats. I am, in fact, what Central Casting would suggest as the perfect Lady Novelist/mad cat lady.

Thank you for having me.

12 comments:

  1. Great to see you here Lesley, and learn so much about you. A varied life indeed. Essential for a novelist (in my humble opinion).

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    1. I agree, Gill. That's why I'm never quite convinced when 20 year olds come out with "Groundbreaking novels".

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  2. Oh so fascinating and I love the way you've described yourself and your career. Conjures up all sorts of visions, each fun ones. Anyone who loves theatre and music has my vote, and one who writes the books I love to read, as it too. Pamela Brown rings a bell from my youth. I think she wrote 'A Swish of the Curtain,' which I loved as a child and which went so way to fuelling my passion for theatre, dance and music. You have good taste. Wishing you lots of success with all your books and lots of dosh to spend on your holidays, with some left over for other goodies. :)

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    1. Thank you, Jane, that's lovely. Your career is fascinating, too - read your guest blog interview the other day. No wonder we're both friends of Chrissie's!

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  3. Great to have you with us, Lesley, but I feel this is just the tip of the iceberg of your life experience ...... episode two to follow maybe> Elizabeth Goudge's name jumped out at me as she lived in the village at the top of the road here. Many of her books are set in this area. Must re-read her.

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  4. What an interesting life Lesley. Nice to have you here.

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  5. Welcome, Lesley and how lovely to read of your accomplishments - just wonderful! I also love the fact you describe your creativity as 'enforced'. Well if the fruits of your labours are anything to go by, then 'enforced' creativity is something I should try! :-)

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  6. Welcome to the blog, varied career path. Would love to hear more about the pantomimes.

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  7. Welcome to the blog, varied career path. Would love to hear more about the pantomimes.

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  8. Welcome, Lesley - it's great to have you on board! A varied life indeed. Now I understand why your books - especially the theatrical elements - are so convincing!

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  9. Lovely to read about you, Lesley - what a variety of life experiences. As Jennifer says, it makes for convincing stories!

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  10. Thank you all for your comments. On my (newly revamped) website, there are seven things you didn't know about me, which always get the same sort of response, but I bet we'd all have them if we searched our memories. We never think what we do is unusual because it isn't to us, just to other people. I'll do a panto post, Neil, eventually.

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