I am so, so excited tonight to have my inaugural guest on my brand new feature, Friday Night Drinks, where I will be asking a variety of fascinating people the burning questions of the day such as, ‘What are you drinking?,
I am absolutely delighted to welcome, blogger, author, activist and all round wonderful human being, Jennifer Gilmour, as my first guest.
Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Jen. First things first, what are you drinking?
Well its almost that time of the year, you know the dreaded C word (sorry to mention it). So I will have a tipple of Baileys, cheers! I love to pour this on vanilla ice-cream, pop it in hot chocolate or on ice as I am tonight.
If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
I would take you for a few drinks down Humber Street which is an up and coming area of Hull City Centre. Its already changed so much but with craft bear and quirky bars its certainly got to be where you enjoy a drink in Hull, it has style.
Since I only live 30 minutes away from you, we’ll have to do that for real some time. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
One certainly has to be JK Rowling, her determination and drive to get published in her circumstances. She didn’t give up. I would love to be encouraged and motivated by her as well as ask her some Harry Potter related questions of course.
The other has to be Theresa May, a chance to share what I have learnt and the concerns I have in the family court system for victims of domestic abuse- giving me a chance to be heard. It seems to be a bit of a tedious way to get my current points of concerns across, this is a bit of a long story but I am working with my local MP to raise these.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
At the moment things have been quite hectic as it always seems to be the same around a book release. 22nd October saw the release of the second edition of my first publication Isolation Junction. Something I have been working on for quite some time and I felt needed, I now have a fantastic support in Pict Publishing and an editor I am very comfortable with.
Why did I start?
In brief, after my relationship had ended I found that I simply couldn’t believe that some of the things that other women were saying were exactly what I had gone through but just in a slightly different format. Domestic abuse tends to go in a cycle and whichever way it begins, the behaviour spirals again and again. At first it could be months between incidents but for me, as time went on, there were many instances within one day. It is quite normal to try to prevent the cycle from starting again by changing your behaviour as much as possible. The help I received by attending a course meant that I began to understand that we were all subjected to the same behaviour and that no one knew before that this could even happen to someone ie that a relationship can be so unhealthy and soul destroying. I realised that others simply needed to know more about this unacceptable behaviour; they needed to see the warning signs before the relationship goes further or the behaviour gets even more controlling. On the other hand, I needed others to see the behaviour for what it is. If people are in a relationship and the behaviour within it is not acceptable, it is not their fault and it can’t simply be changed by changing yourself.
I knew that I had a story to tell and with my previous unfinished written work I realised my first novel had to be more than a book – it had to be a message – a way for others to be able to pass on the story to help other victims and to get the penny to drop and bring about realisation of what is happening sooner than it might otherwise have done. This means that when the relationship ends victims and survivors realise they are not the only ones out there and it is ok to talk about the abuse.
If you haven’t heard about my debut novel Isolation Junction…
My book follows the story of Rose who is stuck in an abusive and coercive relationship referred to as Isolation Junction. After years of emotional abuse, the self doubt about her future and the erosion of her confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself alone, penniless and frightened Rose wonders how she will ever escape from the situation to provide a better life for herself and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1000 reasons why she can’t – will she have the courage to do it? And will she find the support to regain control and confidence?
Where do I want to go?
I will pop these into a few points and these are just to get me started for next year…
*To be able to make a change to policies and procedures in the family court system of CAFCAS
*To be able to speak at national events about my experiences and motivate others to speak out with me- Together we are louder.
*To fund the development of an app that connects to the new forum- Currently researching the route of a non-profit organisation.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?
In terms of blogging, it has to be when I found out I won the Most Informative Blogger 2018, it was completely unexpected and I was delighted to discover that my blog makes an impact.
Ultimately the help I have given others has been my most rewarding achievement. I couldn’t have imagined my life and where it is now years ago and I am thankful I have taken the steps I have taken with the support of my husband, family and friends.
The biggest challenge I face has to be getting my message to be heard, finding people willing to publish my story, blog, write an article, have me on interviews etc. It lead me to create the slogan ‘Together we are louder’, because it needs more than just one person to speak about it; imagine if we managed to turn the right head by 100’s of us screaming the same thing?
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all.
I would like to be the face that is recognised to being a successful survivor, that talks openly about domestic abuse, helps others and am a true social influencer. As well as making my own stamp in history making through changing the policies that need changing.
What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
I am trying to get a free eBook published which links to Clipped Wings (my second publication), its the positive side to the survivor stories to show whats happened since the publication of the book. I love it because it shimmers hope and encouragement to others.
I also have another short story I am working on in regards to linking to Isolation Junction, this will enable me to write the second in the series which follows on the story of Rose. I have got a lot of notes and references to be made but I cannot wait to get started.
This is alongside the other work I do in link with domestic abuse in my own projects.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
Around 12 years ago I went Gorge Walking with Marrick Priory in North Yorkshire and it was probably the most beautiful experiences of nature in my life, I will not forget what it was like to look up from the bottom of a crack in the Earth and to see the trees growing from the sides of the walls and reaching for light.
One of the things on my list since I was in High School was to climb the Eiffel Tower in Paris, now I am not sure you can do it the same way or go as far up but I am still determined to at least see it and do what I am allowed to do.
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
This is a difficult one I think. I have two but I am not sure either will surprise but its worth a go isn’t it? I am a qualified actress, I studied it at college before a gap year. I didn’t have the confidence in myself to get the grades I needed for acting school so I signed up for a gap year in youth work and when I found out I had achieved a DDM (Distinction Distinction Merit) I was gutted. I am always lacking confidence towards achieving something I would like to do.
The other is that I have a tattoo on my ankle which I got shortly after the separation of my abusive ex, I think at the time I did it because I was letting myself know that I could do anything I wanted to do and I am in control. It is a bow on my ankle (holding myself together) I now want to add something on the other side as its plain on the opposite side, perhaps a feather to represent a bird flying free.
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
It has to be the Time-Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger’s, even if you have watched the film. This was the first romance book I fell in love with as a teenager. An impossible situation but one that wraps you up in the story and yearn for everything to be fixed so that their can be some normality to time traveling and a relationship.
So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
I usually drink a glass of water in-between drinks (if not every then certainly a couple), it stops the horrid headache that gives you that feeling to be sick. I sleep it off if I have to but this is only if I have the hubby off work because I do have three kids, I don’t usually get into this state anymore.
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
Lots of walking around the sights, fresh air, light lunch and some clothes shopping (and of course a browse in a book shop). The perfect way to complete a weekend, especially if you are feeling a little worse for wear.
Jennifer, thank you so much for joining me on my blog this evening, it has been an absolute pleasure to talk to you.
About my Guest
Born in Yorkshire in the UK, I am a young, married mum with three children. I am an entrepreneur, running a family business from my home-base and I have a large readership of other young mums in business for my blog posts.
From an early age I have had a passion for writing and have been gathering ideas and plot lines from my teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, I have amalgamated and fictionalised other survivors experiences alongside my own to write my first novel detailing the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again. I hope that in reading my first publication- Isolation Junction, I will raise awareness of this often hidden and unseen behaviour and empower women in abusive relationships to seek help for themselves and find the confidence to change their lives.
Jennifer’s book Isolation Junction has just been re-issued with a beautiful new cover, and you can buy a copy here.
Connect with Jennifer via social media:
Facebook: Author Jennifer Gilmour
Next week I will be enjoying Friday Night Drinks with award-winning book blogger, Linda Hill, so make sure you don’t miss that.