A Wonderful Morning at the recording Studios!
Human beings rely so much upon sight. We have developed this sense above all others. So losing your sight or being born blind seems a disaster in terms of navigating your way around the world we inhabit, a world so full of physical obstacles. The fact is everything is now about the written and visual word; books, newspapers, television, films, artwork, advertisements, instructions to use complex objects, food packaging…the list is endless. Music at least is audible and so is the spoken word.
I long ago wanted my book The Long Shadow to be available for the blind as an audio book. This, at least, is one way a blind person can ‘read’ and can with their inner imaginations visualise a descriptive and atmospheric scene. So I donated the book to the RNIB recently and was invited to go to their recording studio in Camden, London, to see/hear it being recorded.
It was a wonderful experience. I first met Rupert Morgan, the studio manager, who explained how it all worked and how the book would be stored on a system called Daisy (digital audio system or something like that!) and the book can then be sent out to borrowers on a CD or usb. This system is used as it prevents the book being copied. Even I will only be allowed to keep an hours recording on CD!
I was then taken to the studio and introduced to Thuy Mallalieu, the audio producer. Thuy is blind himself and with his acute sense of hearing, can tell when something needs to be altered or if any extraneous noises creep in such as a door somewhere slamming, a rustle of a page turning. You and I may not notice it but a blind person would. Thuy was also able to pause the reading, correct or delete any errors on his computer and then the reader could resume. The effect was seamless.
Maggie Mash is the wonderful lady who read out the book. Maggie has had 20 years experience in this line of work and she really enjoys it. Her acting skills are superb and she achieves a variety of voices . The book is long and has a lot of characters of varied nationalities but she managed to make them all sound quite distinctive. Thuy immediately recognised a character as she began to read the dialogue. It was actually very moving for me to hear the story being read like this. The spoken word does something magical for a story.
Maggie spent many years in Cyprus and understands the Greek character well so she was perfect as a reader for this story. She told me that she had learnt a great deal about Greek history at this period (WW1) and about the little known Salonika Campaign. And Thuy seemed to be enjoying it also! So that made me feel very rewarded.
Thank you all at the RNIB recording studios for allowing me this interesting and unique experience! I hope many blind people will enjoy the book.
Travel, Tourism and Identity, Volume 7
This latest volume is part of a series called Culture and Civilisation edited by Gabriel Ricci. He is the associate professor of Humanities at Elisabethtown College in the
States and has written several books on travel and brought out other series. I was proud
to be asked to contribute a small article to this volume entitled :'Know Thyself: An
Anglo-Greek Author's Search for Roots and Identity' Gnothis seafton or Know Thyself was an ancient Greek aphorism which was carved over the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi. To my mind, travel is an entrance to another world just as this
ancient gateway was for my forbears. And Apollo represent the centre, the Sun, our
Self. Through various travels about the globe, I feel I have learnt to understand and know myself through other cultures and experiences of other people...who in the end to turn out to be no different from me at all.
Travel, Tourism and Identity addresses the psychological and social adjustments that occur when people make contact with others outside their social, cultural, or linguistic groups. Whether such contact is the result of tourism, seeking exile, or relocating abroad, the volume’s contributors demonstrate how one’s identity, cultural assumptions, and world view can be brought into question.
In some cases, the traveler finds that bridging the social and cultural gap between himself and the new society is fairly easy. In other cases, the traveler discovers that reorienting himself requires absorbing a new cultural history and traditions. The contributors argue that making these adjustments will surely enhance the traveler’s or tourist’s experience; otherwise the traveler or tourist will be at risk of becoming a marginalized figure, one disconnected from the society that surrounds him.
This latest volume in the Culture & Civilization series features a collection of essays on travel and tourism. The essays cover a range of topics from historical travels to modern social identities. They discuss ancient travels, contemporary travels in Europe, Africa and sustainable eco-tourism, and the politics of tourism. Essays also address experiences of Grenada’s “Spice Island” identity, and the effects of globalization and migrations
Baby Louisa is here!
My wonderful publisher, Nikos Megapanos, and his wife Julia have just had a beautiful baby girl on 17th February. She is called Louisa and looks amazing at one day old!
Launch of O Iskios tou Polemou in Thessaloniki.
It was wonderful to be in Greece so near to Christmas, not a time I've ever been before. The streets and shops had plenty of bright lights and Tsimiski (the main and wealthier shopping street) looked bright and cheerful. Staying at the Electra Palace Hotel was a dream of mine as it is right on the main Aristotelos Square and the view from the Roof Terrace is just beautiful. It was very misty for the first few mornings as Thessaloniki is on the sea and surrounded by mountains. We were very lucky not to have our plane diverted to Athens when we arrived! Great to be met by a good friend and taxi man, Greg Mosiadis at the air port - it's always so good to see a friendly face.
eOn the Wednesday, Sofia Markopoulos arrived to take me to her school at Kilkis where I met her classes of 15-17year olds who are taking literature and history. They asked me some great questions and we had a marvellous chat together. They are going to read O Iskios and discuss it.
My publisher, Nikos Megapanos, from Oceanida.gr arrived on the Thursday of the launch and a radio interview took place early morning. I was scared about it as my Greek is okay but not fluent! But the kind interviewer told me it was all perfectly understandable! Nikos took my husband and myself on a little tour of some interesting places in Thessaloniki which we hadn't visited before. He also brought the sunshine with him from Athens! Then we had the launch later that evening at Ianos Bookstore and it was very well attended. Maria Kyriakidou gave a talk on the Scottish Women Nurses in the1914 war and Anna Koustinoudi read some passages from the book. Then Aigli Brouskou told us about the box left by her great grandfather which had contained letters, photos, diaries and so on and how this had been mirrored in my story! She had known Nikos Megapanos since her childhood and this brought them together again as well as being so instrumental in my finding a publisher. All thanks to you lovely ladies and your faith in my work.
Great also to meet my many Greek cousins and give them a signed copy of the book. All in all a wonderful time. Here's hoping for a best seller!!
Launch of O Iskios tou Polemou
I'm really thrilled with the cover for O Iskios tou Polemou! Very romantic and atmospheric. It will be available on December 4th ...time to brush up your Greek, folks!
It's the first time I've seen my name in print in Greek.
If you have Greek friends or relations interested in Thessaloniki in WW1 then this book should give them some answers and hopefully pleasure too. And if you want to come to the launch in Thessaloniki it will be at Ianos Bookshop, nr Tsimiski at 19.00. Maria Kyriakidou (from the American College of Thessaloniki) will talk on the British Nurses, there will be readings and a speech (in Greek) from me!
I have won an Indie Book Readers Appreciation Group Medallion!
Take a look at my guest blog on Suzanne Adair's marvellous website.
The Ideal World of Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Delighted to announce that I have signed a contract with
Okeanida.gr to publish The Long Shadow in Greek this autumn.
This really delights me as the story is set in Salonika in
WW1 and tells of the Salonika Campaign, a little spoken of
part of the War effort. It also describes the
multi-national character of Salonika (now Thessaloniki) as it
was in 1916. To have this story brought to the readership of
my 'Greek half' makes me very happy indeed!
A Marvellous Interview
A marvellous interview with Mary Cade, the author of A Bermondsey Grail. She is a great writer of magical and mysterious stories and I am proud to have been interviewed by her!
1. Your passion for Greece and Greek history is very clear in your book The Long Shadow. Could you tell me about your background?
Loretta: You are right. I do have a passion for Greece and its history. It's in my blood so I can't get away from it! My mother, Diana Safralis, was a Greek, born in Constantinople
Trip to Thessaloniki
My recent trip to Thessaloniki to give a talk on The Long Shadow was so inspiring.
I met some really wonderful people there and heard many interesting talks at the
workshop which was called Art, Aesthetics and Power. The campus was beautiful,
both old and new buildings set in the lovely Hortiach Hills with views of the sea glittering in the distance. The creative workshop was a challenge with students arriving in two
parts due to other classes and examinations. But it went well and was most enjoyable. Greek food and wine went down a treat too! I've been introduced to an interesting drink called tsipouro, bit like whisky but softer and sweeter. Also kolokithakia keftedes, a
new way of serving boring old cougettes. So not all hard work!
A Trip to Athens and Thessaloniki
In October I took a plane to Athens, Greece, where I was to stay for five days. I then intended to take the train to Thessaloniki, a journey right up to the North of Greece, and stay another five days there before flying back home. The purpose of the trip was to research the background for my sequel to The Long Shadow. The new novel is to be called Dying Phoenix and is set in the late 1960's when a military junta took over the country and imposed martial law, ousting the young King Constantine from the throne. They took the image of the Phoenix as a symbol of a resurgent Greece. To many it was just that, law and order restored as it seems. But to those who dissented, it was a time of imprisonment, torture of a barbaric kind, while many liberties ended and impositions of various kinds put on the populace.
My aim was to speak to people who recalled the times and hear their stories and it was most interesting to listen to so many different viewpoints from Right, Left and Centre political stances! It was a wonderful adventure and I did indeed garner a great deal of fascinating information and atmosphere for the book with the help of many wonderful people who will duly be acknowledged.
There was some concern that a strike would affect the train journey north but with the help of lovely Tonia Andrioti in the Plaka Hotel, I was able to sort it all out and make the journey safely and happily. I passed some beautiful scenery en route, gorges, ravines and then plains of cotton and other produce as well as many untouched little town and villages. Athens and Thessa;loniki are however grown and altered out of recognition since my first visits in the 1960's...now there are few of the little white stone houses, they have nearly all been replaced by high rises. There are too many cars and horrendous graffitti everywhere. As soon as it is painted over, another lot goes up as the angry young and dispossessed vent their feelings in sometimes, astonishing displays of street art. Much like many urban scenes, in Europe, sadly. But the cities still have charm, sunshine and in Thessaloniki, the beautiful promenade by the sea where one can watch the sun setting slowly over the darkening waves.
As far as the present crisis goes, people keep cheerful, still enjoy a drink and a meze in a bar by the sea, sing and play music in the squares of Plaka, and go about their lives as best they can. There are awful problems but the Greeks have known far worse. You have only to read The Long Shadow to see how the country suffered in both the wars and in the aftermath as well. They will win through as they always do.
Lighthouses provide the inspiration for Loretta's latest novel
A MALVERN author explores her fascination with lighthouses and the British coastline in her third novel. Based on a true story, Loretta Proctor’s Middle Watch traces the journey of a young girl who was orphaned at birth and adopted by a kind-hearted naval officer. Seeking sanctuary from his jealous wife and sons, she follows her stepfather when he embarks on a life away from his family as a lighthouse keeper in Yorkshire. From this develops a compelling love story, when she meets the silent and enigmatic son of a lighthouse keeper only for their romance to be cut short by his military service. Alone on the coast, her step-brother lures her to sample the delights of London before abandoning her in poverty and violence of the city’s back streets, causing her to flee back to the coast in search of her soulmate.
She said: “The story was inspired by a chance conversation over coffee with an orphaned friend whose foster father became a lighthouse keeper. “The character of the heroine, Bridie, isn’t like her naturally, nor is the subsequent story but it is such chance moments that inspire us authors.”
The cover of Middle Watch is Flamborough Light in north Yorkshire. Her latest work follows on from The Long Shadow and The Crimson Red, which were published seven and two years ago respectively.
Loretta signs books at new Malvern Bookshop
Our old Malvern bookshop, Beacon Books, have now shut after many years due to the retirement of the owners. Malvern book lovers were dismayed by this as we only have
the limited stock of WH Smith and a wonderful and extensive bookshop that sells second
hand books. So some intrepid people got together and formed a co-operative, inviting others to join and then formed a new bookshop on this basis. It looks wonderfully bright and airy and is run by cheerful and pleasant ladies who are enjoying learning about the book trade. There is also a place for coffees and home made cakes and the whole atmosphere is welcoming and delightful. What a wonderful idea.
I was happy to do a book signing here on May 12th and enjoyed the morning, well catered for with lots of cups of coffee from Helen and Susan who were in charge that morning. Many thanks to dear Rachelle who bought books and brought me some beautiful flowers.
'Haitch' or 'aitch' : All about pronunciation.
My 'five minutes of fame' actually spanned the day when David Sillito of the
BBC caught me coming out of the British Library a few weeks ago and got me
pronouncing a variety of words in my own inimicable fashion. I was relieved
to learn that others also used my versions of the language.
This amusing clip sponsored by The British Library appeared on Breaksfast
Special, Seven o'clock News and even World News. Wow. How about that for
a TV appearance lasting a few seconds?
"Author Loretta Proctor on the genesis of The Long Shadow.
In the foreword to my book The Long Shadow I explain how the idea of writing this book began to take shape in my mind as far back as 1973.
I was always interested in history and in particular the period of the First World War..."
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