Re-launch of Shades of Appley Green

Who or what inspires your characters?

A Whiter Shade of Appley Green!

Friends and family often think they recognise my characters. If you are an author, have you found this?

An old friend said she could see a lot of me in Kay, the main character in Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served. My adult children can hardly bare to look at my books as they are distracted by things they say they recognise, but I absolutely insist that all my characters are totally fictional! They are created and crafted to fit in with the story and vice versa, if that makes sense.

However, everything comes from somewhere. The subconscious mind squirrels away not just odd facts, but also turns of phrase, mannerisms, facial expressions that have been observed in people the author knows. I may use, unintentionally, bits of people! Perhaps the way a man glances at a woman that, very annoyingly, makes her blush; or a comment that triggers resentment. Such reactions may, or may not, derive from a real-life past situation!

With Shades of Appley Green, I had to get inside the head of a 20 year-old mother, to capture her thoughts and feelings as she poured them out in her diary, holding back very little, over a period of many years.  At the same time I empathised with an elderly, intellectual gentleman trapped inside a body that would not do as it was told, a victim of Parkinson’s and arthritis.

This is what authors do. We employ our imaginations and visualise how someone would feel, what they would say or do, in a given situation. All of that may be far removed from our own selves.

I have also been inspired by certain individuals. I am mentioning no names, of course, but when I worked for what was called The Parkinson’s Disease Society (now Parkinson’s UK), I met some extraordinary people endowed with both spirit and stoicism, rising above the initial shock of diagnosis of a progressive illness, to live life as best they could. Most touching of all was the mutual support between married couples; a man and a woman each battling with a different set of problems but somehow able to get along together and make a good fist of old age. One creative lady, unable to do very much herself or get out of the house, had the unerring love of a husband who would spend many hours furnishing and fitting out miniature houses – like sophisticated dolls’ houses – in a given period, whether Regency, Victorian or 1950s. Days, weeks, years were spent together working with bits of wood, fabric and glue and an assortment of tiny household accessories to create absolute masterpieces. They were wonderful. Another lady lived alone, in what I would describe as a shrine to all things Art Nouveau, including some exciting, theatrical memories. Scarcely able to walk at all, she relied on a rota of carers and a loving son who came when he could.

At the other end of the spectrum we have the young mother, Steph.  I was once 20 years old myself! Although I was at university and this was in the late 1960s I can still draw upon emotional memories. More recently, I had a job working with single teenage mothers, helping support them with information and advice. Some of these girls were feisty and unreceptive, some were naïve and sweet – just like any other group of teenagers! Steph does not quite fit into this mould, but the relationships I witnessed did raise in my mind some universal questions explored in the story. What is marriage? Is sexual attraction different from love? What does fatherhood really mean? What makes  a ‘good mother’?

I hope you enjoy the people in Shades of Appley Green. Young and old live in the village and perhaps there is someone in there you will feel you know already.

Scarlett de Courcier – Bohemiacademia

“Wakerly’s writing style is, as always, tantalising: the kind of gripping you only normally experience with crime novels.”

The Parkinson, quarterly magazine of Parkinson’s UK

“ … a delightful story with an unexpected ending.”

Mostly FIVE STAR reviews on Amazon

“Stunning story, beautifully told” “Colourful and entertaining” “Loved it!”

Review by Jontybabe 

“Miriam Wakerly has a writing style that shows a special relationship with her characters.”

Louise Graham

“Miriam writes with a gorgeous flow and a great depth to her characters …”

Sue Fortin Love Reading Love Books

“A lovely story of one woman’s journey to understanding and accepting her past and ultimately finding an inner-peace and happiness.”

Glow Magazine, from a book signing in Windsor Waterstones

“a quality paperback, and her loyal readers like her style, the library service stocks her books and the word-of-mouth has been key to her being able to bring out this third novel.”

Waterstones, Dorking

“’Shades of Appley Green’. It is a gentle and redemptive read set within a closely knit English village. A beautifully witten book, perfect for the summer.”

Goodreads

Find out more about author Miriam:

Amazon.co.uk (buy)

Blog: www.miriamwakerly.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/miriam.wakerly

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/MiriamWakerly

Excerpt:

Chapter 13

She took Faith and Barnaby to the cinema that evening to see The King’s Speech. It was time they did something together and rarely did they go out in the middle of a school week. It felt good that even Barnaby was happy to focus on something other than thrillers and animations. In fact he was quite fascinated by the whole stammering thing, trying to perfect his own versions of possible speech defects on the way home, such that Steph had to dampen his enthusiasm.

The following morning, it was barely light and, after waking far too early with an ill-conceived soup of Greg, hollyhocks, computers and Colin Firth swirling around in her head, Steph tossed and turned. Her eyelids fluttered open, and aware she was not going to retrieve the sleep she badly needed, she sat up and pulled the Diary out of her briefcase next to the bed.

I never felt like this before about a boy. His face was always in my mind. Constantly. He was (and still is) like a drug that floods me with warmth and happiness. I just hoped he would come back to the gym soon. Every day I was looking out for him. If he didn’t ask me out or make a move soon, I’d be on my knees begging! I haven’t told anyone about him, not about how I feel. Dad was helping me today sort out next year’s budget and I realised he’d been speaking about five minutes and I didn’t have the faintest clue what he’d said! Which made me feel bad, as Dad gave me so much of his time …’

Steph paused in her reading. Memories of her father too – this was tough.

‘Anyway, I couldn’t help but imagine. I wanted his lips on mine – oh my God, yes. I wanted his hands to be all over me, to touch, to stroke – I imagined him giving me a massage! I would rip his clothes off. I can picture him naked, coming towards me … Oh, this is bad. Really. At night – I would kiss my own arm, and touch myself, just imagining it was him. He’s bound to have a girlfriend already. He could be married!’

‘Saw Lucas in the gym working out on the weights. He is perfectly formed, even through his Lycra I can tell! (Especially through his Lycra) What is so wonderful is that he is such a beautiful person – kind, caring – that’s what attracted me to him first, although if he had squinty eyes and a double-chin, maybe his sunny nature would not have hit me in the same way. Then – the most amazing thing happened! He came over to me to say that his group of lads could come to play at the gym; and THEN, as a thank you, he said, “Would you have time for a drink after work? What time do you finish?” I suddenly lost the ability to think or speak. Yes, yes, yes!! Now! Let’s go!! Hey I’m the boss here!’

‘I suggested a little pub in Elstead, where no-one would know me (probably). He seemed happy with that. It meant we had a good twenty minute drive (more time to spend close to him). I remember watching him, as we chatted, noticing the black hairs on his arms (which I found sexy like some women might go for a hairy chest), the strong profile and shapely mouth that I wanted so much to reach out and touch. He was a musician – creative, sensitive, but a bit wild, bound to be. He was perfect.

We spent two hours in that pub, just having one drink each and a bite to eat. I could tell by his eyes that he wanted me too. His gaze seemed to caress my face as he spoke, moving around it, and when our eyes met, it was as if magnetic forces were at work! Once we came out and got into his car, we both knew what would happen. No, not sex, he was not that brash, not on a first date. But, oh boy, did we snog each others’ faces off.’

Steph pulled a face at her juvenile language. She was so young then – only eighteen.

Please leave a comment

  1. Nicky Wells Says:

    Huge congratulations on the relaunch of Shades of Appley Green ~ wishing you every success and a fabulous day. In answer to your question… well, there’s a lot of me in my heroine, Sophie. Everybody who knows me picks that up quite quickly. As for the other characters; they are purely fictional, of course, and I couldn’t possibly say who inspired them. Proctect my sources, and all that! 🙂 Have a fantastic launch day, Miriam, and keep rocking.

  2. Chris Longmuir Says:

    Good luck with the relaunch, Miriam, hope you sell shedloads of the book.

  3. Miriam Wakerly Says:

    Thank you Chris and Nicky. The special offer price was rather slow to get off the ground in this launch! Some hiccup with Kindle, but now we are flying!

  4. Sheryl Browne Says:

    Absolute best of luck, Miriam! That Whiter Shade of Appley Green photo is just beautiful! 🙂 xx

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