My West Yorkshire theme continues this week with author, Suzi Stembridge, talking about her wonderful journey as a writer. and her best selling books. So, please help yourself to a glass of bubbly and then settle down to meet my lovely guest…
Writing was probably something I always wanted to do, little books made in my post-war childhood still exist, very childish by today’s standard, but I remember sitting on the top of the bus coming home from college with stories buzzing in my head. One of my first jobs was working for an editor of a Motor Racing magazine, working at the European Grand Prix. and he would encourage me to write filler pieces and I was thrilled when I got other articles taken up by other magazines. I began to write fiction seriously in my thirties, as the children were growing up, with the help of a library of books, a dictionary, a Thesaurus, absolutely no internet to help with historical facts in those days, and I pride myself on the bibliography at the back of most of the books! Perhaps the Open University course I was taking at this time inspired this!
As with my protagonist, Rosalind, in 1960 I landed in Athens as an air hostess and fell in love with the heat, the air, the scent and then the country. It was here, when we finally retired from running my tour operation businesses Greco-file & Filoxenia, (helping people to visit unspoilt and unusual places in Greece), we built a small house in Arcadia, 700m from the Aegean Sea on the Peloponnese and then I began to write seriously.
After several false starts CAST A HOROSCOPE, the story of another air hostess, (not me, for goodness sake!) finally made it to Kindle in 2011, quickly followed by BRIGHT DAFFODIL YELLOW,
THE SCORPION’S LAST TALE and finally
THE GLASS CLASS.
These four books created the COMING OF AGE QUARTET, they had been swirling around in my head for a very long time. Then I broke my leg in 2003 and an enforced a rest, from the business I founded and ran, encouraged me to make all four independent stories into the beginning of a family saga. Eventually, with THE GREEK LETTERS QUARTET, I took this one family back into the early nineteenth century and called the series of eight novels JIGSAW, as, although each book stood alone, they and their characters fitted together.
I have since written an illustrated children’s book THE PUPPY WHO DIDN’T LIKE RAIN which appeals to adults as well.
Jigsaw has four main protagonists. Samuel Carr who as a 20 years old in Greek Letters Volume 1 “Before” makes an impulsive decision to travel to Greece just as the Greek War of Independence is coming to an end, imagining that this heroic journey will both make his fortune as a liquorice farmer and establish his manhood in the eyes of his brothers. By Volume 2 “And After” he is already a father and about to embark on his second marriage but it is his third marriage to the daughter of his Greek friend that establishes the Anglo-Greek dynasty which holds the Jigsaw together.
His great-granddaughter Helene, mother of Rosalind the second main protagonist, relates her own childhood in Volume 3 “The Eyes Have It” and as a beautiful young woman she sets off to find her Greek cousin and together they experience a huge adventure in the remote and high Pindus mountains.
Volume 4 “Much More Than Hurt” is as much Rosalind’s story as she ages along with her ‘Second Great Love’, the third protagonist along with their son, the fourth protagonist. Intertwined stories of relatives and friends create excitement and mystery and bring not only the Greek Letters Quartet to a close but also the whole series Jigsaw. Yet this book stands very much on its own as each of the characters battle to make their way.
The Coming of Age series with “Cast a Horoscope”, or “Doors to Manual”, introduces Rosalind as a twenty-years-old who finds herself as a rooky air hostess in Athens, then exploring the Greek islands in 1960. Her adventures and traumas around the Mediterranean leave a lasting legacy - her son Andrew.
In “The Scorpion’s Last Tale” it is the teenage Andrew who steps in to rescue a family innocently holidaying on Corfu which has fallen foul of the Colonels’ regime, the Junta in 1972/74. This nasty story is of the age.
In “Bright Daffodil Yellow” Rosalind’s heart-throb is on the run in Northern Cyprus at the time of Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. What or from whom is he running? Can he remain incognito? With tragedy at Portmeirion in Snowdonia, walking on the bleak fells in the Lake District this book, as so often in series Jigsaw, pits sudden horror against intense beauty. Nothing is more unexpected than the Moorgate tube disaster or the pain of reconstructive surgery.
“The Glass Class” again set in the late 1970s wraps up the twentieth-century characters as they realise that they can’t set alight West Yorkshire, Snowdonia or even the Greek island of Spetses; and middle age brings certain responsibilities but with so many unexplained deaths are they facing something or someone more sinister?
Not surprisingly the books are all partly set in Greece, particularly mainland Greece and the Peloponnese. (Before 1974 the whole island of Cyprus was considered Greek). There is a strong Welsh and Yorkshire theme, where I still live with my family, in some of the books with north-west England and Southern Europe generally featured in the Greek Letters Quartet. Still concentrating on my genre of historical fiction there is often a thrilling or criminal twist in the books with blackmail often driving the plot.
It is frightening that many of the books set in the mid-twentieth century, and written from diaries have now become historical or social fiction in their own right!
The eight books when taken together I believe trace an age, which neatly fits from the time of Jane Austen to the era of the first computers and mobile phones with the first part of that era being a time my ancestors would have recall to, through their elders, and the latter part when young people have no conception how to manage without Facebook.
Facebook: Suzi Stembridge
Pennine Writers & Landscape Artists Capturing Greece
GREECE IS THE THEME
Jigsaw: Greek letters & Coming of Age – Two Quartets
Pavlov: The Springer Spaniel@thepuppywhodidn’tlikerain
Linkedin: Suzi Stembridge at Freelance Author and Writer
The Open University: BA. Hons (OPEN)
Member of the Institute of Journalists: M.C.I.J
http://amzn.to/1nKE5wR Full Amazon page co.uk
http://amzn.to/1pfOuljFull Amazon page.com
http://amzn.to/1wSkZXZ GREEK LETTERS VOL 1 ‘Before’
Thank you Suzi for sharing your wonderful books and writing journey with us. Thank you also lovely visitors and friends for stopping by. Please call back again to meet another amazing author. Until then, have a fabulous day and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.
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