First of all, thank you, Jill for the opportunity to appear on your Summer Spotlight. You’re a wonderful friend here on WP and your support and friendship have meant a lot to me since my very first blogging days. It’s an honour to be featured on your blog.
To start this post, you’ve asked some great and inspiring questions which I fear has encouraged the rambling writer in me…
What is special about the place you grew up?
Although I’ve never lived in Ilkley, I was lucky enough to spend many of my formative years in the town. Nestled deep in the Yorkshire Dales beneath the stunning Ilkley Moor to the South and the River Wharf to the North, this old Victorian town thrives on its idyllic location.
It was originally settled in approx. 1800 BC as evident from the 250 Bronze Age cup and ring marks carved into the rocks above the town. Thereafter Romans lived in Ilkley and there are the remains of a Roman fort and altars. Later the town was mentioned in the Doomsday book in 1086.
In the 18th and 19th century Ilkley thrived as it became famous for its healing waters and a hydro complex was built. To this day only one building, White Wells, remains from this period and here is still possible to see the wells and the ice cold waters to which people flocked.
Ilkley was the closest town to where I grew up, within biking distance and for five fantastic years I attended its only secondary school. There wasn’t a day that my heart didn’t rejoice at my school’s wonderful position, high up on the moors, where many of our lunches were taken by White Wells or at the nearby Tarn, cooling our feet in the pond or fresh water streams during the hot summer months. Other times my friends and I would wander into the town for lunch, buy a sandwich and sit on the benches on the infamous Grove – the church behind us, a promenade of shops in front of us, including my most beloved bookshop, The Grove Bookshop. This became my haunt and I wiled away many happy hours in the shop and it became the grateful recipient of my pocket and baby-sitting money.
The last year at school saw my daily hike up the hill replaced with my first car, a white Beetle. A faithful vehicle, it served me well although it barely made it all the way up to school and once was famously overtaken on the hill to the moors by a scooter. My friend threatened to abandon me in her fit of embarrassment!
My first job finally took me away from Ilkley. However, it happily and regularly features in my life as my brother now lives in the town. On visits to him and his family, I can once again traipse the streets, my feet familiar with the layout, my eyes ogling in surprise at the changes, including the numerous and delicious eateries and art shops.
Some things never change though and with delighted expectation I rush to the moors; once again I’m young, free and just me! I’m home!
What would be some of the most annoying things about yourself as a roommate?
This is one of the more unusual questions I’ve come across and since I shared a room in my first year at the University of St. Andrews I began to recall those days.
Having always felt cold when young it was perhaps not the most auspicious beginnings by moving to the colder climes of the North East Scottish Coast. Nothing had prepared me for the bitter winter and no amount of coats, jumpers, or duvets stopped me from shivering and feeling freezing cold. Nothing seemed to help and when inside our room I’d be huddled in front of the tiny electric fire, wrapped up in blankets, clutching a cuppa soup! My roommate, meanwhile, would breeze in wearing just a top and jacket into what most likely felt like a sauna and promptly fling open the window, turning off the fire! Our discrepancy in temperatures was never reconciled however our friendship endured once it was agreed I pay for all the heating costs!
Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
The Grand Canyon, in particular, caught hold of my imagination as a child and my desire to visit it has only grown stronger through my adult years. My sense of incredulity on seeing photos from there never falters, the grandeur and beauty of the landscape is awe-inspiring, the desolate scenery humbling. My heart and soul are drawn to the place and I just know this is somewhere I have to visit.
In recent years I’ve become increasingly intrigued by the giant Sequoia (redwood) trees, particularly in California – their splendour, size and age are astonishing and I long to walk beneath them, staring upwards at nature’s wonder, dizzy in reverse with vertigo and elation.
Closer to home the magic and mystique of the Northern Lights calls to my soul, to see this timeless eternal natural phenomena in real life must be overwhelming; I’m sure I wouldn’t want to break the spiritual experience for days afterwards. It’s as if the heavens put on their own ethereal art show for the planet, capturing our spirits and letting our souls soar free. I hope to make it to Northern Sweden or Norway soon although if I was still living in Yorkshire I would have had the opportunity to witness them this year as they were unusually visible that far south!
A little about myself.
Writing has been my passion since childhood although it is only in the past few years I have seriously started to write fiction. Like so many I worked in various areas first, including journalism and in the timber trade. Illness and motherhood meant a career break and I finally had an opportunity to pursue my dream.
With the added incentive of a writing course and a tutor, my occasional scribblings became a daily work schedule as I threw myself into writing short stories. My confidence was boosted when my story ‘Biding her Time’ won First Prize in a Writing Magazine short story competition and short-listings in other competitions soon followed.
With the encouragement of my family, friends and tutor I embarked on writing a novel and I was delighted to complete ‘Island Girl’ which is now in its final editing phase, delayed as so often happens, by major life events. I have previously completed two, as yet unpublished, books for younger children.
Like so many writers, I’d read about the importance of creating a social media presence and as a result I started my blog in January 2015. Quickly I realised it would be dull to merely concentrate on my novel writing experience and since then my blog has transformed to include book reviews (thank you, NetGalley!) and articles about books. Literature is never far from my side and I could not imagine a life without books! Other posts cover such subjects as the arts, my travels and nature, many with a spiritual and inspirational twist to them and often including photographs from my newly discovered love for this craft.
Furthermore, it has been a delight to share some of my numerous short stories and flash fiction pieces on my blog and the warm, positive comments have given me a huge morale lift. As a result of the wonderful and uplifting feedback and following the increasing popularity of short story books I am seriously considering a compilation of my own short stories to be self-published. This is a project I have just started working on and is proving an exciting new venture for me.
Jill, thank you once again for featuring me on your blog – it’s been a real joy to be here!
Connect with Annika on Twitter @AnnikaPerry68