My first author profile on the blog in a little while today, and I’m delighted to welcome writer Val Poore who finds her literary inspiration in the fascinating life she leads living on board a canal barge in the Netherlands!
Tell me a little bit about yourself as a person?
Oh Chris, this question reminds me of the job interviews I train my students to do. That’s a good introduction to the subject, now, isn’t it? On the ‘what I do’ front, I am in fact a teacher/trainer/lecturer in English communication skills and also in academic and business writing. That’s my day job anyway, and it doesn’t look as if I’ll be giving it up any time soon. I work in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where I have a liveaboard barge, currently occupied full-time by my daughter, so I am a ‘sometimes’ guest on my own boat these days. I lived on it full-time myself for ten years, My home now is officially in a village in the south of the country very close to the Belgian border.
I’m as English as you are, though, and was born and grew up in London until my parents moved to Dorset and I moved there with them. I went to school in Lyme Regis and then later went on to study at what is now Bournemouth University. It was an external faculty of London University in those days. I was actually a frustrated Archaeologist then so decided to do a course in conservation and restoration at Lincoln Art College after my degree. I then worked at Dorchester Museum for a while before joining a firm that specialised in restoring antique country furniture. After that, well to cut a long and rambling story short, I moved to South Africa where I lived from 1981 – 2001. In a word, or three, I loved it!
Tell me about your journey as a writer – how you started and how you have developed?
I’ve been writing most of my life one way and another. As a child, I wrote descriptions of things. I remember that now. I used to write about the wind in the trees, or what it felt like to have the sun on my face. Odd child, I was. Like yo u, I was an avid reader as well – always had my nose in a book – so it made sense to start writing my own stories. I have always loved the radio, though and in South Africa, I really, really missed Radio 4, so I wrote a few radio plays and short stories, a couple of which were broadcast on a local station there. My only claim to fame in fact!
I didn’t get round to writing a full length book until I came to Holland. I suppose having children and working full time in the marketing and communications world, as I did in Johannesburg, took up all my time and satisfied my writing urges for that period. I did a lot of copywriting and marketing material then.
How would you describe your work – it‘s themes and the important things about it?
In all honesty, I don’t have themes. My books are all different, and the first two are memoirs so I suppose that doesn’t really count anyway. I like trying different approaches though, so my first memoir about my life on an African farm really is just that, a recollection of a period in my life that was very special to me.
When it came to the second memoir, Watery Ways, I wanted to try something different, so I wrote it all in the present tense. I was amazed at how different it felt. My first novel, The Skipper’s Child, is a semi-historical adventure story. I call it a kidult book, mainly because it’s aimed at younger teenagers, but I only know adults who have read it. Typical, isn’t it? It was inspired by my partner who grew up as a skipper’s son, and many of the impress ions, anecdotes and descriptions are based on his stories. I was fascinated by how insular a skipper’s life is and how difficult it is for a child who wants to be normal. So you see, no themes!
Tell me about your current book – what is it about and what makes it a great read?
Well, the one that’s been most recently published is Watery Ways, my second memoir about my first year of living on a barge in Rotterdam. I think the people who have read it have enjoyed it because it’s a window into such a different lifestyle. Many of the things that happened to me when I was learning the ropes (literally) were very funny, so it’s pretty humorous as well. I guess that’s the appeal really – that and all the wonderful people I met in the process. It’s a great life and I hope to get back to it full time again once I’ve managed to persuade my daughter she really wants a bigger, more convenient barge of her own!
Where can I buy a copy of your book?
My books are all available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Valerie+Poore
Chris, many thanks for giving me a chance to ramble on your blog. I think you know I’m a big fan of this page, and I’ve just started your book now, so for me this is quite an honour!