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today 6/2/16 on aobibliosphere™ [aobibliospotlight™: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart]

Thursday, August 18, 2011

bibliochat with Carol Wyer

aobibliophile™: hi Carol and welcome to aobibliosphere™. first, tell us a little about yourself. where you are from, your family...

Carol Wyer: Although I am British I was born in Germany and spent my younger life there. Hence my love of beer, German sausages and lederhosen.
I lived abroad for some of my earlier life and as an adult I lived and worked in France and Morocco as a teacher- translator. I finally came back to the UK in the late eighties, met my husband, and settled in Staffordshire where I have lived ever since.
I ran a language company translating and teaching within companies and schools until the late nineties when I suddenly fancied a change of direction and became a fitness instructor for a while.
Nowadays there's only me and my husband to cook for, which is just as well as I am not renowned for my culinary skills. Son flew the nest last year and even though he only managed to fly as far as several doors away, we don't see too much of him. I guess he doesn't fancy dropping around for burnt offerings.

aob™: what made you start writing comedy?

CW: My parents were both blessed with a super sense of humour. My father had a quiet, acerbic wit and my mother and I shared a more childish delight in comedy. I was brought up on a diet of seventies sit-coms and light-hearted television.
My parents loved comedy programmes. Every evening there seemed to be something funny on television, from ‘Man about the House’ to the ‘Two Ronnies’, ‘Fawlty Towers’, ‘Dave Allen’, ‘The Comedians’...I could go on and on. I don’t recall watching anything serious. We even watched ‘The Magic Roundabout’ just before the news each night. I think it had quite an effect on me and helped me view life with a slightly zanier attitude.

aob™: have you always written humorous pieces?

CW: I suppose I have always written stories that contained humour. Some time ago I wrote a series of short stories that taught children French. They were light-hearted too. I find comedy or laughter injected into a lesson helps people to learn languages.

aob™: why did you start writing?

CW: I believe we could all do with some cheer in our lives. There is so much serious stuff going on all the time. Occasionally, it is just nice to relax and enjoy some time out. Nothing pleases me more than making someone laugh.
Last year was a significant year for me. I was facing 50 myself and everyone I knew around me seemed to be hitting the big five-oh too. They were all making radical changes and decisions-some were having cosmetic surgery, some were leaving their long-term partners, some were off to foreign countries and I recognised that it was a time in your life when you could enjoy change and embrace life with its opportunities.
My son had just left home and I no longer filled the role I had been filling for all those years. I was effectively unemployed. I now had the opportunity to do whatever I wanted (within reason). I wrote out a long list of things I wanted to achieve in the next few years. Writing a winning story in a competition was one of those.
A few weeks later I was in my favourite boutique in town, telling tales about my mother and my son’s exploits. The women there encouraged me to write the stories down and within a short time I had enough material for a chapter or two for a book. It seemed natural to continue and write the whole novel.

aob™: Carol, what do you think is the most important element to writing comedy?

CW: Don’t overdo it. Humour should be balanced with a little pathos to make it work better. Similarly, high drama can sometimes be strengthened by juxtaposing it with light comedy - I learnt that from Shakespeare!

aob™: the novel is set in a rural village called Snittington in Staffordshire. is it real?

CW: No, Snittington is fictional but if you lived in my village you would maybe recognise some of what has been written. There are parallels to be drawn, although we don’t have a Mrs Featherstone zooming about the place on her mobility scooter.
There is a real sense of community in a small village and I wanted to convey that too. It’s particularly the case among the older members of the village who have lived there for decades. They still know how to appreciate life and have fun.

aob™: who is your favorite character in Min Skirts and Laughter Lines?

CW: I expect people think I would like Amanda but actually it’s Amanda’s mother I admire. She is very like my own mother who is full of vitality and positive energy. She gets up to all sorts of unimaginable mischief and is shining example of how we should enjoy life. Some of the other older characters in the novel are great fun too. The neighbours, Ethel and Fred, are a riot.

aob™: Amanda blogs her life – what made you decide to make her a blogger?

CW: I wanted to write the novel like a diary but that format has been well-tried and tested over the years. I read an article about how ‘Silver Surfers’ were using sites like Facebook and blogging, even more than the younger generation were so I thought that would be a different angle. Of course, I didn’t even know what a blog was, let alone how to set one up so I had to start one myself to see if the formula would work.

aob™: did it?

CW: Yes, I have learned a huge amount over the year. My guess that Amanda would make friends and connect with people like her was spot on. I have found so many friends and people like me out there. I honestly feel as if I know them very well. I was astounded at how many blogs there are. People write about all sorts of things but mostly it is a way of reaching out and sharing hopes, thoughts, and your life with people. It allows those who can’t get out and about, or who are miles away, or who live in a small village where there is no one your own age to share experiences with, to communicate. It has been an eye-opener and an extremely satisfying experience.
I also found that people of all ages blog or Tweet or chat on facebook. Age is no longer a boundary.
Amanda, of course, doesn’t write proper ‘posts’. They are more diary entries. All the critics say you should keep posts short or you’ll lose followers. I tested that theory by writing posts that were up to 1,400 words. People still read them and so I decided Amanda could easily have shared her life with her new friends.
The advantage of this style of novel is that the reader doesn’t have to plough through an entire chapter. They can read a few posts or entries, each of which stands alone. An ideal format for a beach read or for time-pressed people.

aob™: are you Amanda?

CW: The simple answer is yes. In many ways I am exactly like her. However, you are also her. She isn’t just a fictional character. She represents Every woman in so many ways and we should all be able to associate with her on some level.

aob™: what is the overall message you are trying to convey in this book?

CW: Enjoy your life as much as you can and appreciate your loved ones, neighbours and friends. Years ago I read ‘Candide’ by Voltaire and was rather taken with the message in that book. I have echoed it in Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines.

aob™: will there be a sequel?

CW: Absolutely! I am in the process of writing it much to my neglected husband’s dismay. It means another few months of ready-made meals and neglected housework.
 It begins where Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines leaves off. It is not going to be written as a blog this time, although there will be blog entries in it. The mother plays an even greater role in the sequel so be prepared for more laughs.

aob™: that's something to look forward to then! thank you very much Carol. it was great chatting with you here at aobibliosphere™

CW: You're welcome aob™ 

For more information about Carol Wyer and her work, please visit:

let's PARTY!!!
Carol will be hosting a fun-filled 
book launch party 
for her debut novel Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines on September 16, 2011  
- an all day event in every time zone at www.carolwyer.com and www.facing50withhumour.blogspot.com

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