My last virtual drinks before we can all go inside again in real life (fingers crossed!), so let’s throw on our coats for the final time, maybe grab a blanket for extra warmth, wrap our chilly fingers round a mulled cider and welcome to the blog for Friday Night Drinks… Celia Micklefield.
Celia, thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
Friday night, start of the weekend? Wine. I’ve kept up my weekend ritual even though since I started shielding last year the days have all been running together so that they all feel exactly the same. But the weekend wine is sacrosanct. Clive likes his vodka/tonic and before dinner we take our drinks to the garage where one end is dedicated to darts. We play five games usually (sometimes I win a few) then we go indoors and cook together. Through the cold winter months, (including this April which has been colder than December) my favourite red is Australian Jam Shed Shiraz. It has legs like a Rugby Union player, sticks to the side of the glass and makes you smack your lips. I wait for the special offers in Tesco and stock up. My favourite white is Viognier which is fresh, green and a bit peppery – great with grills and salads.
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?
Dear girl, I’m an old lady now. I don’t do nights out -out. I start falling asleep around half-past ten. However, just for you, I’d make an extra effort and we’d do a pub crawl through my Norfolk villages. You’ll meet the kinds of characters that’ll make you want to rush home and start writing about them. There’s no airs and graces. What you see is what you get. We’ve some tasty local beers and the pubs serve good food. Or, you might end up in the garage with us playing darts!
Sounds great, I have no airs and graces myself! 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?
I’ve found this question really difficult to answer. There are so many people to choose from. I’ve opted for the artist Frida Kahlo and Freddie Mercury. I’d love to hear them bounce ideas off one another.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
Right now this minute? I’m nursing a headache from my second vaccination and looking forward to actually going somewhere sometime soon. My latest novel, A Measured Man was published in March for Kindle and the paperback is out in May. I’m 20,000 words into my next book, The God of Putting Things Right.
Why do we start anything? It’s a good question. I think there’s always a need involved in the answer. We start preparing a meal because we’re hungry and need food, for example. Creative types have a hunger to keep on creating new works and meet new challenges, whether that’s through writing, painting, music etc. We need to do it.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
My proudest moment was selling that first short story to a women’s magazine.Three months had passed since I submitted The Fire Dragon and I’d given up hope. I also gave myself a little pat on the back when I was writing on my website about the Languedoc vineyards surrounding my then home and picked up winegrowers in California who were following my Wednesday Vine Report to compare.
My biggest challenge has been overcoming the fallout from a disastrous relationship which left me homeless for a time. All my money was tied up in the house we’d bought together and he was in no hurry to pay me what he owed. It took nearly three years. Eventually, after I’d researched personality disorders, I wrote my memoir People Who Hurt to help others living in a similar dysfunctional relationship.
Living with CRPS, a chronic, neurological pain condition continues to be a daily challenge.
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’d like to be known as an author whose novels touch readers’ emotions whatever genre. My books don’t ‘fit’ strict genres. I write about ordinary people, sometimes in unusual circumstances, who have problems to overcome. Sometimes the story comes to me in the form of a mystery; at other times it may be more contemporary literary fiction or a historical saga. They are all different. I don’t write to a particular market. I write to answer that need I just mentioned. I’d love readers to say, “Oh, Celia Micklefield. You know you’re going to get deeply involved with her books!”
What have you planned that you’re really excited about?
Hmm. That’s difficult. I haven’t anything planned. I’ve had my second Covid vaccination and should be able to venture out in a few more weeks. I have to be careful. I’d love to have a holiday but the situation isn’t good. Never mind, I have my work-in-progress to look forward to and I usually get a sense of excitement about my writing when it’s going well. On low pain days I work in the garden to help Clive. We grow fruit and vegetables and salads, tomatoes, peppers etc. in the greenhouse. Waiting for the first signs of growth is always exciting.
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.
I love the smaller Greek islands – nothing to do but swim, read, eat, drink and sleep. My last holiday was in Paxos, a tiny island off Corfu. It doesn’t have its own airport so you have to take a ferry. I also love Ithaca which is another island reached by ferry boat. I don’t have a bucket list any more.
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.
I’ve stopped colouring my hair. The next time I post a selfie I’ll be silver! I’m not sure I like it yet as the ends still have some of the old colour in and it looks nicotine stained, the way pub ceilings used to look years ago. Not pleasant.
That’s very brave. 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’?
You must read The Collected Dorothy Parker. Her acidic wit and poignant humour slices right through her poetry and prose. Writing during the New York Jazz age she tackles the glitter and the darkness of the times. She was described as a writer who could ‘combine heartbreak with a wisecrack’.
Dorothy Parker was the most talked-about woman of her day, notorious as the hard-drinking bad girl with a talent for stinging repartee and endlessly quotable one-liners.
The decadent 1920s and 1930s in New York were a time of great experiment and daring for women. For the rich, life seemed a continual party, but the excesses took their emotional toll. I
n the bitingly witty poems and stories collected here, along with her articles and reviews, she brilliantly captures the spirit of the decadent Jazz Age in New York, exposing both the dazzle and the darkness. But beneath the sharp perceptions and acidic humour, much of her work poignantly expresses the deep vulnerability of a troubled, self-destructive woman who, in the words of philosopher Irwin Edman, was ‘a Sappho who could combine a heartbreak with a wisecrack’.
I will add this to the wishlist and hope I get some book tokens for my upcoming birthday! 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?
You’re safe with me. I haven’t had a hangover for years. Don’t mix the grain with the grape, don’t drink on an empty stomach and DO listen to that little voice telling you that’s enough. Failing those warnings you have no other choice but to prop yourself up next day in a winged armchair or the corner of the sofa where you can rest your head and do not move till you’ve been able to drink tea and eat dry toast without seeing it again!
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
I love walking in the countryside around my home. I’m close to the Norfolk Broads, surrounded by nature and wildlife. The weather would be its superb best and we’d fire up the barbecue, have another game of darts, gin and tonic before we eat and cognac afterwards.
Perfect, I would very much forward to this weekend if we had it planned. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me this evening, I have had a wonderful evening.
Celia’s latest book is A Measured Man. She’s calling it a romantic uncertainty. It’s a poignant comedy. Most readers so far have been over 45 and right up to over 65. She think there’s a dearth of novels featuring older main characters so she’s happy with that. You can buy a copy here.
In his fifties, Norfolk bachelor, Aubrey Tennant is looking forward to early retirement but he’s still hoping to find his ideal woman. The trouble is, he has exacting requirements and firmly set preferences. He relies on rehearsed questions to extract from potential candidates what he needs to know. When he meets Lisa Miller on his annual trip to Torquay he believes he’s found The One. She’s sensible with money; she isn’t loud; her children are off her hands and she doesn’t cook anything with garlic. He puts all his well-rehearsed stock phrases into play and sets out to win her. He doesn’t know she’s already buried two husbands.
Also in her fifties, twice widowed Lisa is living in reduced circumstances since her second husband’s untimely and inconvenient demise. She’s attracted by Aubrey’s old-fashioned ways even though she’s made up her mind there’ll be no more men in her life. She’s curious about the Tennant family story especially when her friends Madge and Wally Sparrow know the Tennant name from long ago. Madge says, “In his fifties and never been married? What’s wrong with him?”
Lisa is about to find out.
Celia Micklefield has worked in an accountant’s office, a high street retail store, a textile mill and a shoe factory as well as short stints in a fish and chip shop, behind the bar in a pub and running a slimming club. As a mature student she studied for a degree in education and went into teaching at high school, became a partner in an import and wholesale business and ran a craft outlet at a country shopping experience. She returned to teaching where her last position was at a sixth form college.
Celia was born in West Yorkshire and has lived in Aberdeenshire and the south of France. She currently lives in Norfolk.