Today I am delighted to be kicking off a brand new feature on my blog. Instead of the actual authors being in the spot light, I am featuring their other half’s! Ever wanted to know what it’s like to live with an author? Well now you can find out. Why is the feature called Bookends? Well you can’t have one without the other now can you? And one lends support to the other.
I would like to say a massive thank you to Malcolm and his wonderful wife Debbie for being the first couple to take part. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Malcolm at numerous bookish events now and his wife Debbie is always there by his side. Like me, I am sure many of us would like to know a bit more about their partners and what their life must be like living with an author.
So without further ado, here’s a bit more about Debbie and my set questions that I will be asking on each of these features. (Thanks to Malcolm for sending this wonderful image of a portrait he had done of Debbie a year after they met, proves just how romantic authors can be.)
I am a proud Wiganer, born and bred, which makes my relationship with Malcolm pretty interesting – The War of the Roses is still alive and kicking! We met at Ripon College in 1971, where I took a degree in English and Education. During college, I developed a keen interest in politics, serving on the students’ union and becoming President in 1973.
Career wise, I taught English Language and Literature to 11-18 tear olds; never a dull moment! I have a passion for learning languages and was fortunate to teach in Corfu, Cairo and Northern Cyprus.
What’s the best bit about having a partner that is an author?
I suppose the fact that I am so proud of his achievements. Malcolm has worked hard to be where he is today and still pinches himself! We have taken part in various book ventures throughout the country, meeting really interesting people, some of whom we now consider as friends.
Of course I have to ask, what is the worst bit about having a partner as an author?
Undoubtably, the breakdown in communication when Malcolm is writing. He is immersed in his work and conversations often go unheeded. I would love to know which planet he lives on when he goes into his trances.Living with an author necessitates compromises as their writing and various book events must direct the agenda. Luckily, I’ve never been the ambitious one!
How much input do you have with their books?
In terms of the books’ plots and characters, I have no input whatsoever. Reading the first drafts I have only ever once suggested a minor adjustment, not surprisingly as he had to write it in seven weeks – certainly not his usual timeline.
What other roles do you have in supporting their work?
Primarily, I suppose the major role as a spouse is to be a sounding board and to be supportive. Ironically, the part of my teaching career, which I grew to hate, was the marking that became really intrusive. I proofread, edit and do all the administration and bookkeeping, despite my aversion to Maths!
Does being so involved make you want to have a go at writing yourself?
They say that everybody has a novel in them somewhere so I must be an exception. Malcolm knows the idea for his next book while still working on the current one! I find it very easy to write factually, so I take on the synopses etc. Malcolm hates this aspect of the work, so luckily we complement each other. Over the years we have proved to be a really good team.
Do you have any advice for anyone that lives with an author?
Most importantly you need to be a good listener, to be supportive but also to be honest. You become very much a sounding board as I stated previously. Taking a back seat is also recommended on occasions! You must also be their number one fan. Above all, embrace the opportunity and welcome the experience with open arms, you will enjoy some wonderful times.
Thanks so much for the invitation, Sarah, I’ve really enjoyed it xx
Below you can find out more about Malcolm as well as how to keep up to date with any news as well as his books. He has not long since published Crossed out, the sixth novel in the DCI Bennett series, as well as more recently, The Penultimate Man, a short story in support of The Royal British Legion.
You could say that the writing was clearly written on the wall for anyone born in a library that they might aspire to be an author but to get to that point Malcolm Hollingdrake has travelled a circuitous route.
Malcolm worked in education for many years, even teaching for a period in Cairo before he started writing, a challenge he had longed to tackle for more years than he cares to remember.
Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories and has nine books now available. Presently he is concentrating on a series of crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
Born in Bradford and spending three years in Ripon, Malcolm has never lost his love for his home county, a passion that is reflected in the settings for all three novels.
Malcolm has enjoyed many hobbies including collecting works by Northern artists; the art auctions offer a degree of excitement when both buying and certainly when selling. It’s a hobby he has bestowed on DCI Cyril Bennett, the main character in his latest novel.
Twitter – @MHollingdrake