Saturday 30 October 2021

Author Jennifer Ann Gordon of New Hampshire.

 



Please welcome Author Jennifer Ann Gordon to the Scribbler.


Follow her guest post to discover her bio, her links and all good things about her writing.

 

 

Bittersweet Autumn Thoughts

 

I get sentimental during the autumn, not sure if it’s remnants of hopeful back to school wishes—the hope that this year will be different than the last one. Or perhaps it is seasonal depression creeping its way in with the shortened days and the cold frost covered mornings.

I love Halloween. I have as long as I can remember. I remember seeing myself dressed in one of those close-to-toxic plastic Halloween costumes that made the inside of my nose itch and burn with each stifling breath. I think I was supposed to be Aurora, but the photos from this time give off more of a bad seed or serial killer vibe. I remember my skin getting wet and clammy under that mask, smelling my own candy-coated breath as I snuck Sweet Tarts and Tootsie Rolls from my Halloween bag—my fingers would make the outside of my mask sticky with sweet grime.

I remember graduating from plastic costumes into real costumes. Made up of hand me down clothes and a red yarn wig for a Raggedy Anne costume. I remember the disappointment on my father’s face when he realized I wouldn’t be dressing as Raggedy Andy. I never could be the tomboy he wished me to. Not even for Halloween.

As some kind of halfhearted attempt to make him happy, I carried the Raggedy Andy doll he had given me for my birthday. My raggedy imaginary twin brother.




My sticky candy hands dropped that doll in a puddle filled with moldering fall leaves and by the time I got home it smelled terrible. I decided to play with the doll from now on outside. Raggedy Andy could live on our porch or in the garage as if he were a feral cat.

On a day not long after Halloween, Sandy, the neighbor’s boisterous golden retriever bounded into our yard and snatched it out of the makeshift swing I had tied to pine tree branch.

Part of me was relieved, that I wouldn’t have to play with this moldy boy doll.

My father looked at me with disappointment again when I told him of the great Raggedy Andy doll-napping of the neighborhood. I was always prone to crying, and there were no tears when I told him about what happened. Just wide eyes that silently begged for a new doll, this one Raggedy Anne.

I think of that doll now, now that it is fall and sometimes, I swear I can almost smell it’s muddy damp body. I miss it.

I miss everything this time of year.

Now when I think of that doll I cry.

***

My grandmother on my father’s side, Grandma Ruth, looked like Bilbo Baggins. I never saw a photo of her that my mother didn’t take, so she was always Bilbo in my eyes. Never her saw her in her youth, could not even imagine what she would have been like, had she ever been young? It seemed impossible. She was not quite five feet tall and had wiry gray hair, short and curly, and she wore plastic bonnets when it rained. I never understood how my tall lanky father was a part of her. She wore knee high nylon socks and sensible shoes and a navy-blue smock dress that made her look like someone’s maid.




I never saw her in anything but this, even though she spent every Saturday afternoon and night at our house for years.

She and my mother would play cards at the kitchen table, my father escaped to long weekend naps. My mother and Grandma Ruth would drink Tom Collins after Tom Collins. Their voices getting louder and slower as the afternoon crept towards dark. In my memory of this it feels like fall, it feels like the weeks before and after Halloween. It always feels like before and after Raggedy Andy.

I have no memory of my father sitting and talking with his mother, though he must have. Their family was always quiet and strange with each other. A family of strangers and shadows. My father was the oldest of ten children. Of his nine brother’s and sisters I believe I had only in my life met three of them. Though others would eventually show up for his funeral. They all blended into one blur, one whisper in my ear from my mother. “The Gordon’s are here.”

One of the Gordon’s, Pete, went missing in his late teens, a runaway perhaps, or perhaps not. He was never mentioned, never looked for in any kind of meaningful way.  Once I asked my father about it, he said “Well there were ten of us, one going missing is still good odds.”

I wondered if my father and his mother would talk about him in some strange silent way that only Gordon’s could understand, but I somehow couldn’t.

I was always allowed to go with my father on the rides back to my grandmother’s small apartment above a hardware store, four towns away. The same town my father grew up in.




On the way there we would stop at the liquor store. My father would push the cart and my grandmother would just point at what she wanted. My father would take the large glass jugs and fill the bottom of the cart. I didn’t know how someone so small could consume that much liquid.

Gin, whiskey, scotch, and tequila. I didn’t understand what it meant at the time, but my mother told me that “Ruth drinks the tequila with the worm still in it, she even drinks the worm.”

I would have nightmares about that, during fall, during the times I miss my grandmother. Missing my grandmother feels like swallowing a worm. It feels like Autumn.

My father would bring the boxes of alcohol up the steep stairs to her apartment. It would take two trips, and this happened every Sunday afternoon when we would bring her home.

Her apartment was filled with paintings she had done. Her daily habit was to watch Bob Ross and follow along with him as long as she could until she could finish on her own.

Her mantle had framed photos of horses and a large house that I had never seen and never even been driven by.




The Gordon farm. It looked haunted even though there were nameless lanky children scattered in front. None of them looked at the camera. I wondered which one was Pete. But I never asked. I didn’t know how to ask silently, to talk silently like the Gordon’s could.

I don’t know what happened to the family that lived there, the family that was mine except they were not. A family of strangers that I miss, that I think about during autumn, before and after Halloween.

I think of them as ghosts, rattling around inside my head. When I think of them, I smell that old wet doll, I smell my candy breath, and taste the cherries from the bottoms of my mother and grandmother’s sticky Tom Collins glasses, and I wonder if it’s possible to miss a family you never really knew.

 

 




Jennifer Anne Gordon is a gothic horror/literary fiction novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent which won the Kindle Award for Best Horror/Suspense for 2020, Won Best Horror 2020 from Authors on the Air, was a Finalist for American Book Fest’s Best Book Award- Horror, 2020. It also received the Platinum 5 Star Review from Reader’s Choice as well as the Gold Seal from Book View.





Her novel, From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1) received the Gold Seal from Book View, as well as The Platinum Seal from Reader’s Favorite, and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2) was released to critical acclaim and was recently announced as a semi-finalist for Best Horror/Suspense for the Kindle Awards for 2021.




Her latest novel Pretty/Ugly received the platinum Seal from Readers Favorite, as well as the Gold Medal from Literary Titan. The novel has been called “An exquisitely written horror tale” by Wendy Webb (NYT Bestselling author of The Haunting of Brynn Wilder)






Jennifer also had a collection of her artwork published Victoriana: The Mixed Media Art of Jennifer Gordon.

Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, the top-rated video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network, as well as the host of “Let’s Scare Jennifer to Death”

As a podcast host Jennifer has interviewed authors such as V.C Andrews, James Rollins, Paul Tremblay, Sarah Langan, Mary Burton, Josh Malerman, Joe Lansdale, Shawn Cosby, Carol Goodman, Paula Munier, Wendy Webb, and Matt Ruff. She had been a contributor to Ladies of Horror Fiction, Horror Tree, Writers After Dark, Reader’s Entertainment Magazine, Nerd Daily, and Ginger Nuts of Horror. She is also a featured writer for Top Shelf Magazine, and Uncaged Magazine.

She is a member of the Horror Writers Association where she sits on one of the juries for the Bram Stoker Awards. She is also a member of New England Horror Writers and sits on the committee for the New England Crime Bake festival.






Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog "Lord Tubby".

She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.

She has made her living as an actress, a magician's assistant, a "gallerina", a comic book dealer, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.






When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her husband and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like 'give me a kiss' and 'what hand is the treat in?' ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.


She is a Leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.


For more information and benevolent stalking, please visit her website at http://www.JenniferAnneGordon.com

For media and interview requests please contact Mickey Mikkelson at Creative Edge Publicity – mickey.creativeedge@gmail.com

Literary Rep – Paula Munier at Talcott Notch - pmunier@talcottnotch.net

Facebook Author Page - https://www.facebook.com/JenniferAnneGordonAuthor/

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/jennifergenevievegordon/

Twitter - https://twitter.com/JenniferAnneGo5

Saturday 23 October 2021

Branching Out with Returning Author J. P. McLean of Denman Island, BC.

 




Jo-Anne has been a welcomed guest twice before on the Scribbler. On her first visit way back in 2015, we were treated to an excerpt from Book four in The Gift Legacy series. See it HERE. At that time, it was titled Penance.

The Gift Legacy series continued, BUT… changes were made to new and exciting titles and bold covers. The stories remain the same. In 2018, she returned to explain why. See it HERE.

This week she is back and has kindly agreed to a Branching Out Interview. There is a new book on the horizon, changes in her marketing strategy and lots of good news. She is also sharing an excerpt from just released novel—Blood Mark.

 

Let’s chat with Jo-Anne.



 

Allan: We are overjoyed to have you return, Jo-Anne. Thanks for taking the time to be with us this week. Before we talk about writing and your stories, please tell us about Denman Island, your homelife, and perhaps something we didn’t know about you before.


Sunset from Denman Island.

 

Jo-Anne: Thanks so much for having me back! I’d love to tell you about the island I call home. Denman is one of the northern Gulf islands. It’s situated about halfway up the eastern coast of Vancouver Island in the Strait of Georgia. The island is 50 square kilometers (20 square miles) with a population of 1,100. It’s rural, comprised largely of farms, but there’s a thriving artist community as well. We’re ferry-bound, so living here isn’t for everyone, but it’s a popular summer destination for tourists.

Though the crossing from Buckley Bay to Denman is just 1900 metres (1.9 kms/1.2 miles) and takes a mere ten minutes, our ferry, the Baynes Sound Connector, is the longest salt-water cable ferry in the world (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC1d_VA_hDk).

Denman has a 113-yr-old general store (https://visitdenmanisland.ca/listings/denman-island-general-store/), which is also the post office, the gas station, and the liquor/beer outlet for the island. We also have a bookstore (!) Abraxas bookstore and café (https://visitdenmanisland.ca/listings/abraxas-books-gifts/), and an artisan-run craft shop (https://visitdenmanisland.ca/listings/denman-craft-shop/). Denman has a medical clinic, a dental bus (yes, a converted bus), a fitness centre, two community halls, and much more. But I’m beginning to sound like the tourist bureau. You can read more about what else Denman has to offer through the website https://visitdenmanisland.ca/.

Islanders have ready access to freshly baked bread and pastries, organic vegetables, eggs, poultry, beef, lamb, and pork. Given the abundance of food available, we don’t need to make the trip off island often, but every two weeks or so, we’ll head into Courtenay and Comox. They are the closest cities to us at about a twenty-minute drive north on Vancouver Island. Most of the big-box stores are there, as well as banking, insurance, and anything else we can’t get locally.

What people may not know is that my husband and I have lived on Denman for twenty+ years (where does the time go?). The house was our cottage for ten years prior to moving over full time. When we first moved here, we thought we’d miss the bustle of the city; I’d been a city girl most of my life, first in Toronto, where I was raised, and then in Vancouver, where I attended university and lived for ten years. But as it turned out, we didn’t miss the city at all. When we have an occasion to be back in Vancouver, the few days of city life are wonderful. We get our fill of restaurants and shopping, and then can’t wait to get home to the quiet countryside again.

 

 

Allan: Exciting times, Jo-Anne. A new novel recently released – Blood Mark. Please tell our readers what to expect when they pick up their copy. Is there a dramatic change from your earlier series?

 


Jo-Anne: Exciting indeed! Although Blood Mark is my eighth book, it’s the first book outside of The Gift Legacy series. For that reason, it feels very much like my second book. I know readers will compare the books and I hope Blood Mark holds up to their scrutiny and they love it as much as the legacy series. What readers can expect is a wild ride with fresh and unpredictable plot twists.

This is the teaser: What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive? Jane Walker survives the back alleys of Vancouver, marked by a chain of blood-red birthmarks that snake around her body. During her tortured nights, she is gripped by agonizing nightmares when she sees into the past. It isn’t until, one-by-one, the marks begin to disappear that she learns the deadly truth: Her marks are the only things keeping her alive.

E.E. Holmes, award-winning and best-selling author of The Gateway Trilogy has read it and says: “Featuring a fearless, badass heroine and plot twists that will leave readers breathless, J.P. McLean's Blood Mark is a gritty, sexy, fast-paced thrill ride from start to finish.”

Eileen Cook, award-winning author of You Owe Me a Murder calls Blood Mark “An explosive new series that combines mystery and magic into a can’t-put-down thriller.

What hasn’t changed with the new book is the contemporary Vancouver setting, and the inclusion of supernatural elements. But Jane Walker, the protagonist in Blood Mark, is very different from the protagonist in the Gift Legacy. Jane walker is a scrappy orphan who’s been raised in group homes. She’s had to cope with the stigma that comes with looking different and struggles to make ends meet. Likewise, the best friends in the two books are quite different. Sadie is Jane’s best friend and roommate in Blood Mark. Sadie is a beautiful woman who works as a waitress by day, and a hooker by night.

 

 

Allan: I’ve had the pleasure of reading Secret Sky, Book One in the Gift Legacy series and I’m anxious to get into the series again. You have published seven other novels. I won’t ask you to pick a favorite because it’s a tough question but I’m curious of which was the most difficult to write? The most emotional?

 


Jo-Anne: You’re right about how hard it is to pick a favourite. As for the most difficult book to write, I’d have to say it was the first, Secret Sky. Not only was it difficult from a writing perspective, because I was learning the craft, but it was the first time I’d exposed my creative work to public scrutiny. It felt a lot like stripping naked in public.

The most emotional book to write was Burning Lies because in it, the protagonist loses something very dear to her heart. I left my own tears on the keyboard writing that one!

 

 

Allan: Please share a childhood memory and/or anecdote.

 

Jo-Anne: When I was very young, perhaps six or seven years old, I loved windy days. I remember racing with the wind at my back and my arms held wide and jumping into the air, hoping against hope that the wind would lift me off the ground and I would fly. I’ve long been captivated by the notion of flying. In fact, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had recurring dreams of flying—dreams I have to this day. I can’t wait for personal flying aircraft to become a reality. It’s no wonder my first series centers around a secret society of people who can fly! 

 



Allan: Is there a bit of Jo-Anne McLean in any of your characters? Do you find inspiration from real people or is every character a total figment of your imagination?

 

Jo-Anne: The protagonist in the first series, Emelynn, had two of my foibles: zero sense of direction and unruly hair. I didn’t plan it that way, it just evolved. Using something I was so familiar with made it easier to bring the character to life. For example, I was able to describe what it felt like to get lost, or the frustration of map reading. Likewise, I knew Emelynn would need hair elastics and a big-toothed comb.

Most of my characters have bits and pieces of real people in them. Sometimes it’s just a physical trait, like the way a character flips their hair away from their face, or an unsteady gait. Other times, it’s a personality characteristic I’ve observed, like genuine empathy, or callous indifference.

It’s a challenge to keep the characters fresh and different from one another. That’s why people-watching is so fascinating to me. My observations often end up as character details in my stories.

 

 

Allan: What draws you to the supernatural or paranormal genre?

 


Jo-Anne: It’s the possibility that these phenomena might exist. Like that little girl inside me that was convinced I could fly if only I could run fast enough. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could move objects with your mind or communicate with your thoughts? It may seem far-fetched, but scientists are actively working on these possibilities.

The supernatural or paranormal genre is also the genre that I most enjoy reading. For me, its pure escapism, an indulgence. I readily suspend my disbelief, get lost in the story, and lose all track of time when I’m reading.

 

 

Allan: You have recently signed on with the publicity firm, Creative Edge with Mickey Mikkelson. Can you tell us about this new direction?



 

Jo-Anne: Publicity is a necessity if you want to find and grow your readership. It’s one of the building blocks of a writer’s career. But I always felt out of my depth with publicity, not knowing who to reach out to, or how. So I was very excited to learn about Mickey and Creative Edge (https://www.creative-edge.services/). He’s taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I’ve been working with him since January. Not only has he gotten me interviews with influencers and put me in front of people who are interested in my genre, but he’s organized reviews for my books. He’s helped me up my game and I’m tremendously grateful.

 

 

Allan: Favorite book? Author? Movie? Dessert?

 

Jo-Anne: Haha! Favourite book? I’ve got dozens—I read a lot—so if you ask me tomorrow, it will change. Today’s favourite is Spirit Legacy by E.E. Holmes. It’s an interesting take on ghosts. The intrigue just kept building with unanswered questions, dubious motives, and strange phenomena. Is it the ghosts who have deadly intentions? Or the protagonist’s friends, her family? Holmes kept me guessing right to the end.

One of my favourite authors is Charlaine Harris. She wrote the Sookie Stackhouse books which became the True Blood TV series. 




She also wrote the Midnight Texas books, which became a TV series, and the Aurora Teagarden books, many of which have been made into TV movies. Harris writes with a keen sense of humour, which I love, and her characters are people I’d like to know and hang out with.

As for movies, I’m at a bit of a loss. I’m not a movie buff. My husband and I have different tastes, so what we watch are movies where our interests intersect, which are thrillers and action flicks. My favourite of those is probably the Bourne Identity based on the Robert Ludlum book and starring Matt Damon.

My favourite dessert? SO many to choose from. In winter, I’d say butter tarts or butter-tart bars. In summer, it would be ice cream (mint chocolate chip, or chocolate-peanut-butter ripple).

 

 

Allan: Anything else you’d like to share with us?

 

Jo-Anne: Just my thanks, Allan. I really appreciate the care you take to elevate the profile of authors and champion their work. I feel very lucky and grateful to be included.

 

***Thank you for saying that, Jo-Anne. It’s great guests such as yourself which makes this all worthwhile and so enjoyable for me.

 

 


 

An Excerpt from Blood Mark.

(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)

 

 

Blood Mark came out on October 19th. It’s the first book in a brand-new supernatural thriller series that I’m excited to share with your readers.

Following is an excerpt (you can also download the excerpt here: https://jpmcleanauthor.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Blood-Mark-Sneak-Peek-for-website-preview-2021-06-02.pdf)

1   |   Jane

August 8

Jane Walker might have been the only person in Vancouver not afraid to be in a downtown alley at half-past midnight. Shadows clung to fissures and corners, morphing into nightmare shapes as she passed. A warm breeze stirred the scent of rotting garbage along with her gag reflex. Rescuing Sadie was getting old. One of these nights, Sadie’s unique way of punishing herself would be the death of them both. And maybe Jane’s bike.

She parked next to Ethan’s Fat Boy in the hopes his reputation would spill over and protect her cherished Honda 500. But the caged bulb above the back door worried her. It bled a weak circle of light that pooled near the bikes. It was a toss-up whether it would draw attention or act as a deterrent. She said a prayer for the latter and removed her helmet. A slamming door punctuated a heated argument drifting down from a nearby apartment. She raked her long hair forward to hide the worst of the birthmark on her face then walked around the corner, bypassing the dregs of Riptide’s nightly queue.

A bouncer she knew manned the door. His steady gaze slid sideways at her approach. Boos from the lineup he held at bay prompted him to inhale, emphasizing the girth of his chest. He flexed biceps larger than her thighs, tipped his chin, and let her pass.

She nodded her thanks and stepped inside. A cocktail of perfume and stale sweat assaulted her. Thumping music reverberated in her chest as she scanned the bar for Ethan Bryce and found him pouring shots. A seasoned bartender, he worked the room like a ringside bookie at an illegal fight, smiling with one eye and watching for trouble with the other.

“Thanks for calling,” Jane said, pressing into the bar. “Where is she?”

Ethan held her gaze a moment longer than necessary then swiped his head to the left. Jane followed his line of sight to the dance floor, where her roommate swayed out of step with the music. Sadie had gone with tasteful tonight, wearing her LBD, as she called her little black dress. Her client must have been a high roller—unlike the ’roided-up jockstrap now keeping Sadie upright with a hand on her ass and a sure-bet smile on his face.

Jane strode through the dancers and stopped short of her. “Sadie?” she shouted over the music.

Sadie lifted her head from Jockstrap’s shoulder and struggled to focus. “Narc?” She blew at a stray blonde curl. Jane winced at the nickname Sadie rarely used in public.

“You know her?” Jockstrap asked.

“Shurr. Tim, meet Narc. Dance with us.” Sadie reached for Jane. Her mascara had smudged, leaving charcoal shadows under her eyes. It’s what two lines of coke and a few too many vodka chasers looked like.

Jane took her hand. “Let’s go home.”

“She’s with me tonight, honey,” Jockstrap said, tugging Sadie’s arm away from Jane. He looked down to Sadie with a smarmy smile. “Aren’t you, baby?”

Sadie squinted up at him. When she looked back at Jane, sparks of awareness surfaced. She pushed against his chest. “I gotta go.”

“You don’t gotta go,” he said, dragging her back. “Stay with me, baby. We’re having fun, aren’t we?”

“How about I bring her back tomorrow?” Jane said. “When she’s not wasted.”

Sadie stumbled as Jockstrap twisted to put himself between the two women. “I’ve made an investment here.”

Charming, Jane thought, recoiling from his stale-beer spittle. She was quick in a fight and had the advantage of being sober, but Jockstrap had a hundred pounds on her and a hard-on with a destination.

She knew Ethan wouldn’t tolerate her pulling a knife in Riptide, so she’d have to dissuade Jockstrap some other way. She looked to the floor. For Sadie, she’d expose her marks. Only for Sadie. An eyeful of ugly often gave her a split-second advantage. He was already wobbling—shouldn’t be too hard to knock him on his ass.

She shifted the grip on her helmet, widened her stance, and drew in a calming breath. Then, in one swift motion, she swung the curtain of hair away from her face. “She’s going home,” she said, pressing upward into Jockstrap’s personal space to ensure he got a good look at the thick blood-red birthmark that slashed an angle from her forehead to her temple. It looked like the work of a medieval battle-axe.

He shrunk back with a familiar snarl of revulsion. Already primed, Jane was ready to launch when a firm hand landed on her shoulder, halting her.

“Everything all right here?” Ethan asked, squeezing harder than he needed to. Jane felt a pinch of resentment at his interference.

Jockstrap’s gaze darted to the figure standing behind Jane. Ethan wasn’t big, but his reputation was. You didn’t cross him unless you had generous sick-leave benefits.

Jockstrap’s nostrils flared. He pinched his lips. Neither man moved. Long seconds later, Jockstrap faltered and blew out a deflating breath. His bravado and sure-bet attitude faded along with his hopes of getting laid. He released Sadie with a little shove. “Go on then,” he said. “Take out the trash.” He stalked away and called over his shoulder, “And it’s Tom, not fuckin’ Tim.”

“Yeah,” Jane mumbled, “not fuckin’ Tom, either.” With a shake of her head, Jane settled her hair back into place. She wrapped a steadying arm around Sadie’s shoulder and turned her around, bumping into Ethan, who stood in their path.

“You okay?” he said, but his expression was a warning. She’d forced his hand and he didn’t like that.

“Yeah. Watch my ride? I’ll come by in the morning to pick her up.”

“Jimmy’ll keep an eye on her,” Ethan said, before he swaggered back to the bar.

Ethan’s faith in the stubble-faced panhandler who hung around the bar was a mystery to Jane.

She opened Sadie’s purse and fished out her keys.

 

2   |   Rick

Rick Atkins kept his back to the dance floor and gazed at Sadie’s reflection in the mirror behind the bar. Not that Sadie would recognize him in glasses and a full beard, but vigilance had served him well to this point. He wouldn’t tempt fate when he was so close to his endgame.

He watched the woman who called herself Jane flash her markings like a blowfish in the face of the predator shark who groped at Sadie. Jane had no inkling of the damage she was capable of inflicting. But not for long. Rick downed his beer and slinked out the door.

 

 


 



Thank you for being our guest this week, Jo-Anne. Wishing you continued success with your writing.

 


 

For all you cool readers and visitors wanting to discover more about Jo-Anne and her writing, please follow these links:

 

Website: https://jpmcleanauthor.com

Newsletter: https://jpmcleanauthor.com/mailing-list-signup-form/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JPMcLeanBooks

Twitter: @jpmcleanauthor https://twitter.com/jpmcleanauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jpmcleanauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jpmclean

BookBub:

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/j-p-mclean-cd5829f0-6e0d-4189-b561-44651ad67b9e

Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/~/e/B00JSZOXTC

Saturday 16 October 2021

Branching Out with Poet, Lecturer and Writer Amita Sanghavi of Oman.

 



I was introduced to Amita by New Brunswick poet, Richard Doiron, who suggested Amita would be an ideal fit for a Scribbler visit and a Branching Out Interview. I couldn’t agree more. Amita has kindly agreed to be our featured guest this week.

 

What I visited Amita’s website, I was greeted by the following:

Ordinary day, extraordinary possibilities. Reflections, Poetry, Musings and more.

 

It is a warm and friendly greeting and we are happy to have Amita share her thoughts and her writing.

Let’s chat with Amita.



 

 

Allan: Welcome to the Scribbler, Amita. Before we chat about writing and related topics, please tell our readers about you & family, where you were born, where you reside and home life.

 

Amita: Thanks Allan, for this wonderful opportunity of the interview. I am born and raised in Mumbai, India, and reside in Oman since the past 17 years. I live in Muscat with my daughter, and we are a single parent family of mother and daughter. I live on campus, and teach at Sultan Qaboos University.

 



 

Allan: You have an impressive body of work, featured in various publications and participated in numerous events. Congratulations on your many successes. Is there one such accomplishment you value the most?

 

Amita: I most treasure Diego giving me the title, ‘Maple Leaf’ on my poem ‘Mapled Me’ that I read on the show. That poem I treasure a lot, and is my favourite, as time and again, it seems to be most popular; it gave me the title ‘Maple Leaf’ from such a notable, remarkable veteran poet Diego Bastiannutti, that for me it is the greatest motivation ever, that too on Live Radio of Vancouver, home to British Columbia University. The poem got selected in an anthology published in the UK ‘‘Daffodils’’ where I was chosen as the Featured Poet! And last but not the least, Jeannette Skirvin, well known Canadian novelist, so beautifully made a video poem ‘Mapled Me’ that it has had almost 400 views, and counting.

 


 

Allan: Your website tells us of upcoming publications. Can you tell our readers what to expect and when it is all taking place?

 

Amita: I have several poems coming in anthologies; and single poems in journals. But what’s exciting is by December 2021, I am publishing my second book of poetry, “Astad Deboo: Poetry in Dance”. This is ekphrasis written on watching his dance. He is India’s most cherished Contemporary Dancer awarded the highest civilian awards including the PADMASHRI.



I also have three more books of poetry coming in 2022 and 2023, three of them on three photographers in Oman and Italy, and their work which inspired the poetry and one on a famous painter, but I have not yet given them titles.

 

 

Allan: Please share a childhood memory and/or anecdote.

 

Amita: I knew since grade 7 that I only wanted to study poetry! Our school principal once walked into the class and taught us “Daffodils” by Wordsworth. The moment she recited it, the impression was so deep in my mind, that I returned home and asked my mother if I had to study only poetry what should I do? She said, Masters in English Literature. I pursued just that! I have MA, M.Phil., B. Ed from Mumbai, and one more MA from UK. I waited to see real daffodils till I was 29! It was after 16 years, I joined University of Lancaster and finally visited the very spot, the Dove cottage, and saw 10,000 at a glance!




 Somehow, that journey, from the classroom of grade 7 to the Lancaster classroom of Poetry taught by Professor Emeritus Mick Short, is a conspiracy of the Universe! Time and again, it has been a very unique experience when it comes to poetry- I have had several experiences of coincidences, serendipity, opening of doors most miraculously- but will elaborate on them some other time!

 

 

Allan: You were honoured by World Poetry Canada as poetry Ambassador to Oman. Can you tell us about this?

 

Amita: In my journey as a poet, my most memorable moment is when Ariadne Sawyer responded to my poetry submission online, and went on to include my poetry in her website, this was the best thing that happened to me in 2018. Then, I did my radio show with Ariadne Sawyer, and Diego Bastianutti at World Café Poetry. I am indebted and a great admirer of both these great poets and personalities of Vancouver, and see them as my role models. The radio shows were a wonderful opportunity to talk about myself, how my poetry evolved from my life experiences.





 

 

Allan: Who has been a major influence in your writing? Do you have a mentor? Favorite writers or poets?

 

Amita: I think I followed my own Voice.  Poetry that was simple always appealed to me, reached the core of my heart, spoke to me. I especially loved reading Maya Angelou, and definitely regard her as one of the best. As a mentor, I feel the long years of work of Ariadne Sawyer are very inspiring to a younger poet like me, and give my love for poetry a concrete example of how the sense of purpose and the varied possibilities are available, as I see her in her multiple roles as a poet and so much more! She has taken poetry to an all-new level, and her entire lifetime is about encouraging, bringing together and promoting poets. What’s absolutely astonishing and very pleasantly so, is how she has a new feather in her cap now, with poetry of Youth!




Before you bat an eyelid, Ariadne has an all-new role and a concept and she is off with all her love and light, pursuing it. This gives me direction, and purpose to what I should set out to do more, and how.

Ariadne Sawyer will always remain my role model, my inspiration to work harder and with dedication and also my mentor; so, will Richard Doiron remain a great role model and inspiration. His interview on your blog and his poet laureate speech are something I re-visit many times. If there is someone who ought to be awarded a PhD on their volume of body of work of prolific poetry, it is Richard Doiron. In fact, I discovered your blog while I was searching his works on Google.

 

**I’m glad you did, Amita. Richard is a fine gentleman.

 

Among older poets, Rumi, Robert Frost and William Wordsworth, and William Blake are my favourites, and among Indian poets, there are far too many in Hindi/Urdu/English/Bengali language, like Gulzar, Rabindranath Tagore, Jerry Pinto, Sudeep Sen, Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca, Naomi Shihab Hye, Ashok Bhargava, and yes, my all-new favourite, Zayra Yves, to name just a few. Ah, and Richard’s poetry comes back to my mind time and again, what more can I say!

 

 

Allan: You have recently been involved with the release of Impressions & Expressions. An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry. Can you tell us about this?

 

Amita: I used to read poetry online and like them a lot, and found that if I had wanted to read again, I had to go to each poet’s Facebook and scroll and hunt for the one I liked, and re read it.

Over a year, I found this really a huge hassle, and then decided, well what do I want? I want all my favourite poems from several poets put in a single book, that I can reach out and read as and when I like. So actually Allan, I made that anthology just for myself! And then come to think of it, readers and poetry lovers would certainly want to read more than one poem of a poet. I always feel as a student of Stylistics, that it is always desirable to be able to read at least 6 to 8 poems from a single poet in order to know and understand their style, their philosophy and their uniqueness. 



Thus, this collection boasts of twenty-four very contemporary poetry ranging from YouTube and Instagram mentions to ‘I can’t breathe’ and post pandemic and during pandemic afternoons spent at the kitchen window. Each poem contributes a distinct flavor to the book by being ‘different’ from the poetry of the other poets in the collection. I also repeatedly read the 150 poems and struggled to give a title to the collection that initially I had called, ‘Power of Poetry’. I meditated deeper into what is poetry, and what makes poetry be born, and the ideal one I came upon after careful deliberation was that poetry is the Expression of the impressions of life each poet carries in having met and lived their life experiences; so, I felt there could not be a more apt title than IMPRESSIONS AND EXPRESSIONS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY POETRY.

By the time the edition was ready, I was madly in love with some of the poetry and have decided that in the lockdown, it was the best gift I have given myself!

 

 

Allan: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about?

 

Amita: Yes, just a note on why poetry is an Art we ought to bring back in this digital age, with a whole new enthusiasm especially post pandemic. I feel people will have undergone a whole gamut of emotions and been overwhelmed, and poetry will play a vital role in being able to open up very complex emotions and suppressed feelings. Poetry will prove therapeutic to readers who will find their emotions resonate with the poet’s and also cathartic to those who write it. I would like to end with this note:




The function and purpose of poetry is about life here and now; of our universally faced common experiences as human beings, our IMPRESSIONS, expressed in a succinct and imaginative way in poetry. Poetry is the only form of Art that resonates and retells each and every human experience musically, imaginatively, metaphorically, visually, emotively, explicitly, implicitly and aesthetically!

  


 

 

 

 

Writings of Amita Sanghavi.


Amita's Blog - https://amitasanghavispoetry.blog/


AmitaSanghvi YouTube

. https://youtu.be/Fj332mXKbMY

 

AmitaSanghvi Amazon Publications

 https://www.amazon.com/AMITA-

SANGHVI/e/B073JVF6M5%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

 

AmitaSanghvi profiles

https://www.instagram.com/sanghvi.amita/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.researchgate.net/profile/Amita_Sanghvi/amp

 

AmitaSanghvi Newspapers

https://timesofoman.com/article/1510089/Oman/Government/International-honour-for-

poet-based-in-Oman

A book review in Oman’s national daily:

https://www.omanobserver.om/article/917/Local/on-looking-upon-prof-eugene-h-johnsonsstorimagesA