I’m delighted this week to welcome Val Poore who has just released her latest book Harbour Ways about life on a canal barge. Val is an experienced author who has had books out both with publishers and under her own steam. What’s more she’s a very warm and generous person who is incredibly supportive of other writers. Welcome Val.
For those who don’t know you can you tell us a little about your background and about yourself as a person Val?
As for telling readers about me, what can I say? I’m actually a former advertising, marketing and communications person now turned teacher of English, both academic and business. I had to change roles from doer to teacher when I left South Africa in 2001 and came to live in the Netherlands.
Not speaking Dutch rather limited my ‘doing’ options at the time, but I don’t regret the change as I really enjoy teaching, especially the uni and college students. That’s really about it for the day job. For the rest (as they say here in NL), I spend much of my life messing about with boats both large and small. Keeping a 116 year old barge afloat keeps me very busy, and then with whatever time is left after that and marking student assignments, I write!
Tell me a bit about your publishing history – the different ways you have published books and how those experiences have been for you?
Good question. Let’s see, I started off self-publishing mainly because with the barge and work and everything, I didn’t have time to try and find a publisher for my first book. Then I discovered Lulu.com. It was amazing how much I learnt from their self publishing site. I’d never formatted anything for publication before – we always had agencies to do that in my job – so I discovered things all this stuff about page and section breaks, headers and footers and drop caps – it was as if I’d worked with Word for years and had only used a fraction of its features – by the way, I still feel that now.
But I have to say it was a huge thrill to get my own product for the first time. I really felt I’d made my own book, bar the actual printing. I did two books that way, and then I was lucky enough to be picked up by a publisher in the UK, Sunpenny Publishing. They were great and they published The Skipper’s Child for me and also Watery Ways. But they’ve now re-structured and I’ve now gone back to self-publishing, but this time with a difference.
The digital age has developed since I first issued African Ways, so now I’ve had to learn how to format for e-books – another challenge, but just as satisfying. My first e-book was the humorous novel I published last year (How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics). I’ve got the others as e-books now too.
Tell me about your latest book – Harbour Ways, what it is about and what inspired you to write it? The book is based on your own life experiences. How does that work for you, do you make an effort to keep it ‘true to life’ or is there plenty of artistic licence?
Harbour ways is the story of how I converted my century old barge for living on. I decided to write it as so many people have shown interest in how I came to be here on an old barge and when they’ve found out I converted it myself, they’ve wanted to know the story.
So, I thought I might as well put it on paper. I had a lot of fun and frustration during the conversion process and as the book says at the beginning, everything, but everything, takes at least ten times longer than you think it’s going to, so you learn to have a huge amount of patience. There were some pretty funny moments as well, so it’s been great re-living them in the writing. About the true-to-life thing, what I can say is that everything happened as described.
I didn’t keep a dairy, but I had notes, and I have this kind of filmic memory, so I can remember complete scenes as if they were yesterday. What’s certainly happened is that not everything occurred in exactly the order I’ve written it. My memory’s not that good! I follow the first year and a half pretty closely, but not on a day by day basis, so in that sense, there’s a bit of license there and the things I ‘think’ in the book are sometimes put there to create the narrative flow, but they’re all true. So it’s a kind of patchwork of memories and scenes, but it wouldn’t stand up in court as an accurate blow by blow account!
This is the second book in the series telling about your adventures afloat – does that bring this chapter to a close or are there more to come do you think?
No, I don’t think there’ll be another about the harbour in Rotterdam. If I ever write another memoir like this, it’ll be after I’ve given up the struggle to make a living by teaching – or it’s given me up – and I’ve gone travelling by boat. My dream is to sail away to France and just potter about the canals there. France or Belgium.
What are you planning to write in the future, are you working on a book now and what would you like to write?
I am planning another book. Another three, in fact, but I don’t know which one to write first! One is a memoir type book about Belgium, where I’ve spent a lot of time. The other two are novels. At the moment, I’m busy writing my thesis for my Masters in second language teaching, so I have to focus on that, but I’ll be writing a book again soon. I can’t seem to resist the urge for long…
Here’s where you can find out more about Val and get in touch with her
Chris, it’s been great to chat to you again and thanks for giving me the chance to wave my flag here too. Anyone who wants to connect with me on this wonderful web can find me on:
Val’s blog click here
Facebook click here
Twitter click here
Harbour Ways on Amazon click here.