– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tour.
About the Author :
Samantha Henthorn was born in 1970something in Bury, England. She has had short stories and poetry published in magazines. Her books include the Curmudgeon Avenue series (The Terraced House Diaries and The Harold and Edith adventures). ‘1962’, ‘Quirky Tales to Make Your Day’ and ‘Piccalilly’.
She has two cats, one dog, one gorgeous grown up daughter and one husband. When not reading or writing, she is listening to heavy metal and would be thrilled to bits if someone read her books.
• Paperback: 251 pages
• Publisher: Independently published (2 Oct. 2019)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 1696877938
• ISBN-13: 978-1696877930
The house on Curmudgeon Avenue should be happy now, the nincompoop residents have all met their sorry ends. But they haven’t quite left… now that a new family move in can the house find peace? Or are the ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue going to interfere with the goings-on, romance and dramas that new residents bring?
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Thank you for inviting me on to your blog! I am Samantha Henthorn- author of uplifting comedy-drama novels, but everyone calls me ‘Sam’ for short. I have lived in Bury near Manchester (UK) all my life. I have one dog, two cats, one grownup daughter and one husband. I often feel as though I am living in a sitcom – and this is reflected in my writing style. How I became an author is a long story, brace yourselves! Ever since I was a little girl, I have always noticed life’s quirky and funny occurrences. For example, when I was four years old and just about to set off for school, the telephone rang. My mum spent a long time in conversation, then put the phone down and said ‘You can’t go to school today because a lorry with an elephant inside it has crashed into the school’. No elephants were harmed during this incident – although the school’s front railings were severely squashed. I remembered this many years later and checked with my mum that it actually happened – it did, and so a version of this became the start of the Curmudgeon Avenue series. Professionally, I worked as a nurse for the NHS for twenty years but had to accept ill-health retirement because I have MS. This was in 2014 and I had not even reached my fortieth birthday. Leaving nursing was a huge disappointment, so to help me get over this I turned to my love of reading to find an occupation that I could do while sitting down, for half an hour at a time.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
Great question, I could be here all day talking about favourite books. Roald Dahl, I would say was my all-time favourite – The Twits, in particular, especially the bit about ‘A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly.’ I also loved books about witches, or as they are called now ‘Witch lit.’. The children’s books I loved from this genre were Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch and Witchdust by Mary Welfare – which was about two witches living in a little cottage together with their cat, how appealing is that? I think my attraction to books about witches started when I was told that I have a ‘witch’s name’ (Samantha) on a family day out to Pendle when I was about seven years old. I could go on, I certainly loved books as a child. As an adult, again, how long have you got? Reading for me is something I do to relax – I think it’s better than mindfulness. I have been reading mainly independently published books for the past three years. I like nothing better than to escape into the pages of an uplifting romance. My favourite three authors of this genre are Sharon Booth, Jessica Redland and Lizzie Lamb. I am currently studying a Creative Writing and English Literature degree. The current module is about novels and I have rekindled my adoration of Thomas Hardy and also enjoyed very much reading Ali Smith and Arundhati Roy.
Given that I like to read the opposite of what I write, I have been known to dip my toes into the thriller pool. I recently read The Hive by Jane Holland. I haven’t reviewed it yet but it is creepy in a remarkable way, and well worth a mention. It would be tough to choose an all-time favourite loved book, but if asked I always say Richard Adams’ Watership Down, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird anything by Stephen King, oh! And what about The Color Purple by Alice Walker. While we’re on to that subject, The Ballad of Lee Cotton by Christopher Wilson is also a favourite. See, I told you, I could go on all day about books…
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Of course, there is! Wow, I would ask Victoria Wood CBE – Bury’s own literary hero and dearly departed comedy genius what made her choose scriptwriting over novel writing. I’m not saying she should have abandoned scriptwriting – Dinnerladies was a gift I think we can all agree on. The reason I would love to have this conversation is that my Curmudgeon Avenue series is currently being made into an audiobook, the narrative really lends itself to spoken word. This makes me wonder if I am a scriptwriter hiding in a novelist’s skin…
I recently read that multi-award-winning author Ali Smith suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome. After telling her how much I enjoyed reading her novel Hotel World, I would ask her for her tips on coping with fatigue while trying to complete a book!
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
From my own books, I would invite sisters Wantha and Toonan Rose. They are right up my street. First, I would crack open a cold bottle of Aldi Prosecco, then I would ask sassy Wantha to give me a makeover (as long as I didn’t have to wear a lycra bodystocking). Then I would ask Toonan to read my tarot cards – as of The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue, Clairvoyance is Toonan’s new vocation. From Roald Dahl’s The Twits I would ask Mr Twit what tricks I can play on my husband. I would not invite Mr Twit to my house though, I would arrange to meet him in the pub – and I would probably have to get the beers in!
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Yes, I either go to physiotherapy or hydrotherapy in the morning, then I have a rest. Then, when my house is reasonably tidy (I cannot write amongst clutter), then I write. I have to make sure, though that I am not sitting in front of my laptop for too long because I get neck pain and fatigue.
I used to write whenever the moment took me – but creeping downstairs at 3am to write another chapter is no good for anyone!
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Hahaha, no one needs to worry at all… my ideas well, they come from my imagination. I have always been an observant person plus twenty years working as a psychiatric nurse and even my eventual retirement taught me a lot about people. I may remember something, exaggerate and change the story and then let the characters take over. That said, one of the most irritating questions I have been asked while writing is ‘Oh, is that one a true story? Or based on such-a-person?’ ‘No’, I answer, ‘I’m an author, it’s my job to make things up’ (And then write them in any way but kill them off horribly on page 95). Only joking! (Or am I?)
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I would say I’m a plotter. I’ve had to be with the Curmudgeon Avenue series – so many characters I had to keep track of what they’re all up to, who they’re in love with and so on. That said, there have been times when I have let the characters tell the story. For example, I had no idea that Patchouli was going to meet and fall in love with former rock star Gil Von Black when she escorted her daughter to a speed dating event at the local pub. But the characters did meet, and this has opened up a whole new thread of storyline.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Yes. Firstly, I would say GO FOR IT there is nothing to stop you writing.
Secondly, I would say, don’t take my advice, that’s my advice. Do what is right for you, back yourself, because ultimately, if you want to be a writer, you will do it.
What are your futureplans as an author?
I am glad you asked. I have two more books planned for the Curmudgeon Avenue series. Excitingly, the entire series is being transformed into audiobook by the talented voice-over actor Lindsay McKinnon.
I have written my half of another short story collection The Grit and The Wit this is in collaboration with my writing buddy Maggie McGee.
I have plenty of ideas for some standalone women’s literature including a ‘witch lit’ and one set in Cuba.
My physiotherapist and my daughter have suggested I write a book about my experiences of having MS, I’m not sure how I feel about writing non-fiction – but watch this space!
Last, but not least: Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
As you know, The Curmudgeon Avenue series is narrated by the grumpy, yet proud Victorian terrace – passing judgement in brackets. Now that the nincompoop residents have all died due to a series of fatal household accidents, here is a snippet of when Ghost Edith tries to help her son, Ricky Ricketts when an intruder is suspected:
But there was no time for that, Harold, Edith and Edna heard a loud banging noise at the back door.
‘Hide!’ squealed Edith.
‘Don’t be ridiculous, Edith, no one can see us’ said Edna ‘Harold, you go downstairs and see who it is!’
‘Harold! Be quick!’
Harold flew down the stairs and arrived at the back door where he came face to face, not with Big George, but with Shania Goatshed his sister and one-time enemy.
‘Sharon’ Harold said. (Don’t forget she changed her name to Shania)
Shania started to sniff the smell of Ghost Harold. What’s that smell? She said to herself. Now, where would I find their wills?
‘Wills? We didn’t have wills you stupid cow!’ Harold’s bravery was mostly down his sister not being able to hear him – not too old for a game of why are you punching yourself?
Shania made her way through the house, rummaging through drawers and cupboards. Ah! This will do nicely! No wills? I’ll just have to print a few out and forge some signatures… Oh! Fancy! Shania chuckled to herself when she recognised Edna Payne from her passport photo. (Don’t forget Harold and Edna dated briefly back in the day).
‘Oh shit!’ said Harold ‘I think she heard me saying we didn’t write a will’ (Don’t worry, Shania noted that because she could not find them)
‘Oh shit!’ gasped Shania when she heard Ricky Ricketts walking through my front door; she legged it out of the back door, from whence she came.
‘Hello!’ shouted Ricky Ricketts, Matteo crouched behind him, having heard a noise from the upstairs flat to Genevieve’s next door, they crept around (slowly) to investigate the potential presence of a miscreant.
‘Anyone there?’ Ricky quietly said.
‘We should make a loud, banging noise to make us sound like more than one person’ whispered Matteo.
‘Good idea’ whispered Ricky. ‘Make a loud, banging noise then.’
‘Hello love, I’ll do it for you’ said Edith, floating just inside the vestibule of heartache. Edna rolled her eyes, Ricky and Matteo could not hear anything the ghosts said – or did. Or could they? Edna was wrong to doubt her sister. Edith flew into the front room and knocked the silver poppy vase onto the floor – it did not make any noise on the carpet, so she picked it up again and threw it on the floor in the kitchen.
‘Shiiiiiiiit’ they gasped at the sound of clattering in the kitchen, Ricky and Matteo grabbed each other in the hallway, where they were still pussy-footing about.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Terri Nixon.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!