This week’s Inheritance Books are from Linda MacDonald.
Hi Linda, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
A careers officer once told me there was no perfect job for me. This was after I answered a questionnaire which showed I had scored equally highly on Art, Science and Education. It was suggested that either I become a biology teacher, or a science researcher for television documentaries – in either case, using my spare time to be creative.
As it was, I studied psychology and then trained as a teacher. I worked in education until two years ago when I retired to focus fully on writing – something that has been the most serious of my creative interests since childhood.
I was always writing. I wrote short stories, diaries, articles, poems, plays and TV scripts. I even completed two ‘practice’ novels during the first fifteen years of my teaching career, all the time honing my skills for a time when I hoped I would have an idea of sufficient interest to be publishable. It wasn’t until 2001, with the advent of Friends Reunited, that I began to write Meeting Lydia, a novel inspired by my childhood experiences of being bullied in a predominantly boys’ prep school. The book is also about midlife relationship crises and internet relationships.
By the time I got to the end, I realised I had developed a taste for writing about complex relationships where I was able to use my interest in psychology to drive the motivations of the characters. I wanted my books to appeal to men as well as women, so when I wrote the stand-alone sequel, A Meeting of a Different Kind, I decided it would be from both male and female perspectives. The third part of the trilogy, The Alone Alternative, is currently going through the publication process.
Your books sound fascinating. I love a good psychological angle in a novel.
Which book have you inherited from generations above? Why is it special?
As a small child, I had many sleepovers at the home of my dad’s half-sister, my Auntie Millie. I slept in an enormous brass bedstead, onto which I had to climb with the help of an ancient chair. Every night, Auntie Millie read to me a chapter from one of the Pooh books, doing different voices for all the characters and making the books come vibrantly alive. I remember searching for Heffalumps when we were out for walks, and when it snowed we sang the Pooh song for snowy weather, my aunt taking Pooh’s role with the verses while I joined in, as Piglit did, with the ‘Tiddly Poms’. The books remind me of the laughter and the happy times that I shared with my aunt and uncle.
Later, when I was about sixteen, I rediscovered the stories, appreciating the jokes and nuances from a more mature perspective. And even later, as a teacher, I realised how the characters were very like many adults; that there’s a Rabbit and an Eyore, a Tigger and a Kanga in most workplaces. I even read ‘Rabbit’s Busy Day’ as part of the post-lunch Chrismas entertainment, replacing the characters from the book with the names of some of the more colourful members of staff.
Every adult should read the stories again as an antidote to sadness and a reminder of the child within. The stories are brilliantly funny but often poignant, and I challenge anyone not to feel a nostalgic tug to the heart when they read the last lines of the final chapter.
Which book would you leave to generations to come? Why?
I have chosen The Magus by John Fowles. It is something of a cult classic and a novel that has baffled many readers as to its ‘meaning’. It is about a young teacher, estranged from his girlfriend and working on a Greek island. There, he meets a local millionaire who sets in motion a complex game where fantasy and reality intermingle in ways that are sometimes dangerous and shocking. The reader is constantly being deceived and surprised, then deceived again. The first time I read it, I felt I was being toyed with, like the main character in the book. It made me wonder about truth and lies and the complex interplay in all relationships. It is a book best appreciated during the young adult years of questing, although I have subsequently read it twice.
To me the plot was a lesson in love: a reminder that while we may think we want glamour and excitement, these are illusory trappings that divert our attention from where our true happiness lies.
It is a difficult book, a challenging read, but the rewards for persistence are plentiful.
Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us Linda. I hope your books sell loads and get made into movies.