Monday 22 October 2018

Yesterday Uncovered - 1960's with Julia Ibbotson & Drumbeats

This month on Yesterday Uncovered we slip back to the 1960s

Sitting, in the shade, on a recliner at the side of my pool is Julia Ibbotson, the author of, Drumbeats so please help yourself to a glass of chilled bubbly, a plate of tapas, then make yourself comfortable and enjoy slipping back to the 1960s.

Tell us a little about yourself

Thank you, Pauline, for entertaining me again with bubbly by your pool! Well, as you know, I’m the author of best-selling award-winning books with my lovely publisher, Endeavour. Drumbeats, set in 1965, is a coming-of-age romance in the midst of civil war in Africa; there’s a spice of mystery too! It’s the first of a trilogy which follows my main character, Jess, through the decades, starting with the 1960s at age 18, when she goes off to Africa for a gap year, and moving on to the 1980s and 1990s. Actually, this is great timing, Pauline, because the last of the trilogy (Finding Jess) came out in July!  I originally self-published Drumbeats as an indie author but was delighted to be signed with Endeavour back in 2015.

I’ve just moved to writing fulltime, after a career in education, as a secondary school teacher (English and Drama) and a senior lecturer/researcher at university. It’s lovely to be able to manage my own time now – and to be able to go to ‘swim and gym’ every morning, walk in the countryside around my village, and chat to other writers over lunch at the RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) chapters. It all gives me inspiration. I just have to try to be disciplined about getting on with my writing, and not stop for too much coffee, social media and chocolate! I love having time to do the extensive research I do for all my books: I’m intrigued by history and time travel.

What inspired you to write about the 1960s?

I’ve always been fascinated by the 60s. Drumbeats brings in the music, fashion, and attitudes of English life back in the day. In many ways it was the decade that saw the start of so much in our world today. Yet we’ve moved on very significantly since then. It was also a time of innocence and naivety, despite all we read. Things weren’t as ‘out there’ as they are today; you didn’t discuss openly all sorts of things we do now: sex, mental health, abuse. There was a veneer of openness but so much was hidden and covered up. In Drumbeats I try to portray what this was like for an 18 year old from quite a strict English family life, now on the brink of the grown up world, caught in the turmoil and drama of West Africa.

Tell us little about the story and its plot without giving too much away

Imagine! - it’s 1965 and 18 year old Jess escapes her stifling English background for a gap year in Ghana, West Africa. But it’s a time of political turbulence across the region. Fighting to keep her young love who she believes is waiting for her back in England, she’s thrown into the physical dangers of civil war, tragedy … and the emotional conflict of a disturbing new relationship with Jim, an American medic. But why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams? And what is Jim really involved in?
This is a rite of passage story which takes the reader hand in hand with Jess on her journey towards growing into the world.

Is any part of the story based on facts / real events?

I did go to Ghana as a volunteer teacher and nurse, I did live in the 60s, and the political events of West Africa at that time (the civil wars etc) did happen. Some of Jess’s experiences in Ghana are based on mine. But further than that, I won’t confess!!

My next two books in the trilogy are also based on real historical events and social background and on some of my life experiences too or those of people around me: being close to someone with mental health issues, betrayal, divorce, but of course as a writer you change some things for creative licence. Readers are sometimes surprised at the things that happened to people (or things they put up with) in the 60s, and (as later in the trilogy) the 70s and 80s. It was a different world – but then, it’s history!

Are any of the characters based on someone real or are they pure fiction?

I think most writers base their characters on people they know, even slightly, or on something interesting about them, just as a book is more vivid if it’s set in a location that the writer knows well. Jess maybe has something of me at that age (18): adventurous, brave, yet quite dangerously naïve about the world.

If research was necessary what did this involve

I always love the research I do for every one of my books! I researched the 1960s just as much as I did for the Dark Ages for my mystery time-slip (A Shape on the Air), set in 499AD. For Drumbeats, I needed to be accurate about the 60s music, the fashions, the events of that period. I’m told that history starts 50 years ago, so certainly 1965 needs to be researched as such! And as it’s set in Ghana, I had to research the political events in a time of turbulence in West Africa.
I’m an avid reader, and for my own reading, I love books that show me a different historical period and location, especially if it’s exotic! I tried to make Drumbeats vivid so that readers could really feel that they were there.

Links to Julia and her books…    (buy-link on Amazon for ebook and paperback)  (for all the Drumbeats trilogy on Amazon)
Twitter:  @Julia Ibbotson    (inspiration pics that informed my books and research)   (my Goodreads author page)

Thank you for stopping by and meeting Julia

On Thursday we meet Philippa Nefri Clarke talking about...

Until next time, I hope the sun is shinning on your face and in your heart.



Suzy, The Grey Brunette said...

I think I've got a copy of Drumbeats on my book shelf but I still haven't got round to reading it! I will soon though! It sounds fabulous!
Suzy xx

Pauline Barclay said...

Hello Suzy, thank you sooo much for popping by. Have a fab day and enjoy the reading Drumbeats. xxx

Dr Julia Ibbotson said...

Thank you, Suzy. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks for popping by - and many thanks to Pauline for a lovely interview - great to chat with you again! x

Pauline Barclay said...

It is a pleasure and glad we had time to chat, Julia. x