A Butcher’s Guide to Buying Meat is a something of a unique book, and a very worthwhile resource. The author, Paul Coppin, runs Coppin Bros, a butcher’s shop based in Tooting, South London. A family-run firm, Coppin Bros has been in operation for over 100 years, and is one of the oldest butcher’s shops in London. Paul posesses a wealth of expertise and knowledge in butchery, having worked in the firm since 1965. His experience in the field of meat-buying, and meat-preparation is second-to-none, making him the ideal person to author such a book.
The primary purpose of ‘A Butcher’s Guide to Buying Meat’ is to make you, the reader and the consumer, better informed about the meat you are buying. It will provide you with the knowledge you need to seek out the best quality cuts of meat every time.
Paul’s insights into butchery and meat-buying in the 21st century raise some interesting points. How much thought do we put into the meat we buy from the supermarket?
This extract touches on the idea that we as consumers are open to manipulation when it comes to meat-buying. Here Paul proposes that we should always be mindful of quality and aware of what to avoid.
A Meat Buying Guide
Within, A Butcher’s Guide to Buying Meat, each partiuclar cut is given its own section, complete with a colour photograph, overview, buying guide, and ‘Butcher’s Tips’, making it ideal to carry around on your smartphone or kindle and use when shopping.
Here below we can see the page on ‘T’ Bone Steaks, found within the chapter on Beef:
A Meat Preparation Guide
Paul’s book is not just restricted to advice on buying meat and how to identify the best quality cuts; the book aslo contains advice about meat preparation. Once again, his first hand experience as a butcher comes in very useful here. Below, is an extract where advice is given on knife-usage when it comes to meat:
A Money Saving Guide
Finally, with his experience of the industry, Paul can help you save money when it comes to buying meat. He offers useful tips on the sorts of cuts which tend to be cheap to buy, but without neccessarily compromising in terms of nutritional content or taste:
A Butcher’s Guide to Buying Meat has already been met with praise from readers in both Britain and the United States.
Book Title: The Adventures of Caitlin Haq
Part of Series: No
Author: Stuart Williams
Available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes and Noble, iBookStore, Kobo and Smashwords.
Number of words (approximately): 33,340
Star Rating (of five): 4
Summary: Caitlin is not an ordinary girl. Her mum is not an ordinary mum. Cailtin and her black cat go on exciting adventures, frightening robbers and punishing bullies, helping her friends and having great fun.
- It was the kind of night that wasn’t really black. It was the kind of night when the sky was very blue and all of the stars had come out and the moon was a sort of bright white. The kind of night when you could see all of the shapes of all of the houses and the big hill on the edge of the town looked like a big dark lump when you looked out of Caiti Haq’s sitting room window. There were so many stars in the sky, Caiti wondered how they could all fit and thought that, if she had a pen that could write in the sky, it would take forever to join them up.
You see, standing in her sitting room window to look at the stars was easy because mummy still hadn’t put any curtains up. Mummy had said that she couldn’t put any curtains up because they would fall down as there was no pole to hang them on, and that wasn’t mummy’s fault because her friend, who had said he would put it up, kept forgetting to whenever he came round to do it. But looking at the stars was better now than before because mummy had had the new carpet put down so her feet didn’t get cold, like they did when it was only the old brown tiles on the floor. Caiti loved looking at the stars and the moon because she really wanted to fly there one day, and she knew that, if she worked very, very hard, she might when she was older. A lot older, that is, because children didn’t go into space, you had to be very old, perhaps twenty or even twenty-five to do that.
“Come on you, up those stairs, young lady, school in the morning, and clean your teeth tonight!” Mummy shouted from the kitchen. Caiti gave the moon a little wave and skipped into the hall. This was easy because, when mummy had the new carpet put down, the door had gone from the sitting room and was now up the garden, leaning against the garage. Caiti had wondered why, because, when her friends had new carpets fitted, none of their doors had gone missing. But then, even though she was only ten years old, Caiti knew that her mummy was a bit stranger than other mummies and was always doing funny things. Most of the time this was alright because it made her laugh but there were times when she was really embarrassing.
Caiti thought, “You see what I mean,” as, when she was half way up the stairs going to the bathroom, mummy ran up behind her, grabbed her round the middle and shouted, “I’m gonna-eat-ya, I’m gonna-eat-ya,” and carried her into her bedroom, even though she’d just told her to clean her teeth and she needed to be in the bathroom for that.
Caiti was lying on her high-up bed, with Slim asleep across her feet, snoring peacefully, his tail shooting up in the air to point at the ceiling every time he breathed out, when, suddenly, in the way that animals do, he suddenly woke, his senses aware of something, he didn’t know what but there was something there. Turning slowly, he arched his back and pointed his body at the window, his nose wrinkling and his green eyes narrowing to little slits. Caiti sat upright, her heart pounding. Hardly daring to breath, she gulped with fright as a shape appeared outside her window, hovering. The silhouette wobbled as a thin, spooky arm reached out and tapped gently on the glass.
Slim hissed and his claws flicked from his tiny paws. Caiti dived for the cover of the sheets as the thing spoke in a squeaky little voice. “Slim, you stupid feline, let me in before I turn you into a toad. It’s Witch Wobblytum. I need your help.” Slim jumped from the bed and excitedly opened the window. Wobblytum sat astride the shaft of her broomstick, bobbing in the night air. “Oh curse the broomstick,” she spat as she wobbled nervously, “it keeps going down instead of up.” As the stick flicked backwards and forwards, her crash helmet bounced on her head and her oversized football shirt flapped like a bird with one wing.
Caiti climbed down the ladder from her bed, held her hand out to Wobblytum, and spoke in a way so calm you would think that she often met witches on wobbly broomsticks outside her bedroom window, “Good evening.”
Wobblytum spoke first to Caiti and then at the unstable stick. “Good evening. Oooh, arrrr, stand still you stupid thing.”
“This is my old witch,” said Slim, introducing Caiti, “that’s why I’m blacker than any cat you’ve ever seen, because I was a witch’s cat once.”
“Yes he was and a very good one too. Ooooh,” added Wobblytum, finishing with a scream as the stick made a dive for the lawn, her white Nike trainers kicking on the end of her thin, multi-coloured legs. –
Structure: The book is well structured. It is written in children’s English, with use of words appropriate to the context.
Content: The book is written for fun-loving young readers, in a series of short stories, with a flow-through of one adventure to another.
Reviewer’s Comments: This is a fun book! It is easy to read, entertaining, even for adults, while being understandable down to a young age, and it has good moral values and lessons in a non-didactic way. It is well-suited as a gift for any child who can read, up to mid-teens.
Reviewed by Karin B of Reader’s.eBooks.Club
The Binary Bet is a story set in the divided Germany in the mid-1980s.
When, solicitor, Jeremy Easterbook’s best friend dies suddenly, Jeremy finds himself caught up in intrigue.
Why are the police so interested in a man that apparently died of natural causes? Why is someone trying to kill Jeremy?
The trail leads to East Germany, where in the 1980s many were killed trying to escape to the West. Can Jeremy finish what his friend Toby had started?
This authentic and throroughly researched novel is ideal for fans of John le Carré and Robert Harris.
The author, Richard Barns worked for the American Air Force in Germany during part of the Cold War and subsequently spent a number of years teaching in state grammar schools in Bavaria, southern Germany. On returning to UK he taught modern languages before becoming a teaching fellow at Exeter University.
Read a short extract of the forthcoming book:
The rain is clattering down on the roof of the Volvo and hanging like translucent jowls round the edges of the windscreen where the wipers cannot reach as Jeremy swings into a private road. It is a very long road, which sweeps uphill and then runs parallel to the distant and barely glimpsed London to Guildford road. Jeremy’s imposing Lutyens style home is situated almost at the top of the hill and on a plot of land that comprises a tennis court and an intricate series of walled and hedged garden areas linked by walkways. He loves it for its quiet seclusion but, as his marital relationship slides ever downwards, he has come to worry that, as a building site, it would fetch a king’s ransom.
They huddle for shelter under the slate-roofed porch while Jeremy fumbles in his pocket for the front door key. Yellow leaves with burnt brown edges squelch under the two men’s feet as they shuffle away from the gusting rain.
“OK, we’re in!” huffs Jeremy pushing open the studded oak door. “Wet shoes on the right, if you don’t mind. No point stoking the Frau’s ire. You’ve got the room upstairs and second left. It’s cosy and there are super views”.
“Perfect. I’ll just be a couple of minutes.”
“No rush – I’ll pour us a pre-prandial then you can finish your tale. I’ll cook and we can chat about what’s to be done once I’m properly in the picture.”
Nigel closes the bedroom door behind him, drops his travelling bag onto the double bed and surveys the softly coloured floral fabrics of the easy chair, the curtains and bedspread. He recognizes them as a Laura Ashley design that his own wife finds so attractive. Through the leaded windows he can see a sodden yet dramatic section of the garden – brilliant red maples, a domed shaped magnolia, the upper branches of which the wind has stripped bare but the bottom half is still clothed in a disintegrating yellow valance of leaves. The plant-edged pond is a constant quiver of rain- beaten pulses and stiffly shaking reeds. It is a far cry from neat grey walls that dominate the view from his flat in Berlin! He turns and wanders curiously over to a small, octagonal swivel bookcase, its shelves crammed with books. He spins it slowly and peers with interest at the titles and authors. These volumes have Jeremy’s stamp on them – some mediaeval German literature next to a selection of early twentieth century novels, notably and, he thinks, surprisingly several by Fallada. Fallada’s deep concern for the fate of the small man during the Depression years in Germany seems unlikely grist for Jeremy’s intellectual mill. There again, he wouldn’t have marked him down as a Jack London fan either, yet he too is well represented.
Stuart Williams has a background in teaching, but in his earlier life he worked as a carpenter and a skydiving instructor. Stuart only began writing whilst studying at university, but went on to write a diary about teaching in a comprehensive school which was published in popular satirical magazine Private Eye.
In 2005 he published his first book, Keeping the Dream Alive: The First Season of AFC Telford United. Telford United suffered financial ruin at the end of the 2003/04 season, and a new club, AFC Telford United, was established by the Supporters’ Trust, Telford United Supporters Ltd. Stuart’s book documented the new club’s dramatic first season in the Northern Premier League, where they suffered erratic form but eventually clinched promotion at the first time of asking via the play-offs.
Here we learn more about Stuart and how he came to write his collection of short fantasy stories, The Adventures of Caitlin Haq.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
In a former life I was a carpenter. After I served my apprenticeship I worked on the tools as they say for about ten years. Eventually I became a foreman and went onto run some jobs up to the value of about £2,000,000. But that was a long time ago in the 1980s. I went to university to do a degree in the mid 1990s and qualified as a maths teacher in 2000. I taught math in a school for a while before going to teach in a college. These days I teach maths and construction sciences up to degree level in quite a large college.
While all this was going on I had a parallel career as a skydiver. I did my first jump in 1983 and my last in 2001. I did about 2500 jumps and was a qualified instructor and a tandem freefall instructor. I actually worked my way through university by teaching skydiving at weekends and doing carpentry during the holidays. I entered a few competitions during my early days and was placed in a few regional events but I was never quite good enough to get into the national squad.
These days I lead a much slower life: though a do ride a motorbike to work every day winter and summer.
I met Helen, Caiti’s mother, in 2005 or perhaps I should say re-met as we knew each other many years ago and even went out on one date back in the mid 1980s. We have two kids: Sam (5) and Niamh (3), as well as Caitlin (17) from Helen’s first marriage.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I try to mix my reading up a bit. A few classics, a few contemporary novels and few adventure boys own type stories. We went on holiday to Cornwall last Summer and I realised that I had never read any Daphne Du Maurier so I’ve stared on them. I finished Rebecca last week and I’ll take on Jamaica Inn next but right at the moment I’m reading Without Fail one of the Jack Reacher novels. I think that Lee Childs is a great honest author; last Christmas Helen bought me one of the later ones and I’d finished it by Boxing Day and I became completely hooked on the Reacher Novel’s so I went back to the beginning and am working my way through them. The Jack Reacher character is very addictive.
Your background is in factual writing, and in 2005 you published a book about non-league football. What lead you to then embark on a children’s fantasy story?
I had never really though I could write until I was training as a teacher; we had to write teaching and learning reflections and my lecturers started to choose mine as exemplars of good writing and some of the other students commented on the style. So I tried writing a few short stories and most of my original stuff, in fact most of what I have ever written was and is pretty awful. But I was told that I had quite a good eye for detail and had some success with a diary I wrote about teaching in a comprehensive school. This was published in Private Eye and picked up on by some of the broadsheets. This led to me being offered some magazine work: at exactly the same time as Telford United, the team at the centre of my first book, went bankrupt and was restarted by a supporters’ group. So I joined up with them to chronicle their first season. They did me a massive favour as they started poorly, got better, and then finished in a play off position for promotion. It was a writer’s dream story a team saved by the community, run by volunteers gained promotion the hard way all in one season.
I wrote the first of the Caitlin Haq stories by way of an apology to Helen, we had been seeing each other for a few months and I hadn’t met Caiti at this point. I was 43 years old, single and was finding actually making a firm commitment very hard and I guess I was being a bit of a jerk. So I realised that I had got to do something very special to make up for my behaviour so I wrote the first of the Caiti stories. I had read some fantasy stories Pullman, Tolkin, CS Lewis, JK Rowling and the like but it’s not my favourite genre.
I knew that I had gone way beyond an apology and a bunch of flowers and where the story content came from I don’t know. There was no plan and I had about twenty four hours before Helen told me that she never wanted to see me again so I just sat down and began to write. This bought me a few brownie points and stay of execution. Caiti was ten at the time and she loved it; I met her a few weeks later and she asked for another.
Your story clearly has many elements that cater for children: a young girl who can fly (with the help of her bed), a cat who communicates with her, and adventures that take place within the backdrop of the night sky while here mother think she’s asleep. Did you have a rich imagination as a child?
I don’t know about having a rich imagination, you’d have to ask my mother, but I was very good at talking my way out of trouble but then I got a lot of practice.
Some of the best children’s classics tell a double story – a story for children and a story for adults who read through the lines. Have you tried to achieve this in The Adventures of Caitlin Haq?
Not really no, but their are some bits for adults in there: when I wrote the first couple there was a lot of in jokes and some innuendo and even now, there are bits when Caiti goes to bed and listens for her mum’s friend to arrive and the TV be turned up before she knows she won’t be disturbed again.
Are you working on any writing projects at the moment?
I am writing that the moment, but it would be classed as being very boring to most people I’m completing my dissertation for my MA in Education. I can not write just for the sake of writing I have to know that my words will have an audience and will be read. I have passed the stage where just seeing my work in print is a thrill.
Who do you hope to reach with your writing?
Very much like my previous answer any one who is prepared to pay me to write or buy my work. I know that sounds cynical/mercenary but I spend too much of my life in front of a computer to come home and do it. I have two small children and I’d rather play with them than write a story or novel that will not be read.
Book Title: ‘The Downloading of Adrian Squire’
Number of words (approximately): 85783
Star Rating (of five): Five
Summary: Adrian is retrenched from his job in the City, a job that has shaped who he is, and that has become the focus of his life. He finds that being a stay-at-home husband is not as easy as it appears, and his ego is gradually demolished by the removal of his work persona. His forcefulness, developed by his demanding job, becomes overbearing, and his family starts to fall apart. His good fortune in having a loving wife, a delightful daughter and two very dissimilar friends enable him to ride out the storm, and to find his feet again.
- Adrian shrugged, a shifty look in his eyes. Gavin’s frown deepened and he pushed his glasses up slowly and sighed.
“Are you telling me that you and Georgie haven’t discussed it?”
Helen rested her chin on her hands and looked at Adrian from beneath her long lashes, a slight smile curling her lips.
“Georgie didn’t know until this morning,” he admitted.
Gavin’s face contorted in disgust.
“You didn’t tell her!”
“No, there was so much going on that it just slipped my mind. Anyway if she hadn’t been gallivanting with her bloody boss then she’d have known, wouldn’t she.”
Gavin shook his head.
“Please tell me you didn’t say that to her?” He threw Helen a furious glare. She smiled silkily back at him and placed her hand on Adrian’s arm, gently stroking his taut muscles. He felt the beginning of a growl forming in his throat and coughed.
“Yes actually I did, it’s the truth.”
“The truth according to Adrian Squire, you mean,” snarled Gavin, shaking his head.
Adrian bristled with affront.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that I love you like a brother but you can be a spoilt bastard at times,” he explained calmly.
Adrian’s jaw gaped.
Helen decided to enter the fray.
“Tut, tut, I think Gavin has a soft spot for Georgie.” She gently squeezed Adrian’s arm in sympathy.
“Shut up, Helen.” Gavin glared as she gave him a glowing smile. “Look, Adrian, all I’m saying is that you and Georgie need to be in agreement over the kids, and if you’re that bothered about her working then I suggest you get yourself a job and stop moaning.”
Adrian recoiled as if slapped and then his shoulders slumped in defeat as he admitted miserably, “I know, but there’s definitely nothing in the city for me.”
Gavin stamped down on his impatience and cajoled him as you would a child.
“Well try something new; you never know, you might even enjoy it.”
Adrian’s eyes lit as a light bulb went off in his mind and he smiled at Gavin excitedly.
“That’s it, I’ve got an idea.” He jumped up, rudely dislodging Helen, and clapped Gavin on the back. “Thanks, mate, I’ve got to go. See you later,” and yanking on the lead he hurried off, dragging Max behind him.
Gavin smiled at the look of indignation on Helen’s face.
“Not losing your touch are you?”
She wiped the scowl from her face and leant across the table, breasts straining against the flimsy material and looked pointedly from them to him.
“You tell me,” she purred and licked her lips, very slowly.
He flushed and jerked to his feet, tearing his eyes away angrily. He forced himself to relax before he replied.
“I think maybe you are.”
She smiled and shrugged.
He turned and walked away, thrusting his hands into his pockets to prevent them from throttling her.
“Bye darling,” she cooed to his retreating figure. –
Structure: The book reads well, with good formatting, use of language, grammar and syntax. It is written in colloquial English, and is unmistakably set in England.
Content: The book tells the story of Adrian, a high-flyer who is retrenched and has difficulty coming to terms with his new reality. He finds that he knows less about his family than he suspected, and the tension at home compounds as his search for employment remains fruitless, his suspicions about his wife increase, and hers about him. It is a magnifying mirror of many families’ lives.
Reviewer’s Comments: ‘The Downloading of Adrian Squire’ is a rollicking tale of domestic bliss and conflict, with lots of action and emotion. It is easy to identify with most of the characters, and to empathise with them. The author has managed to portray real people in a very convincing, uncontrived way. The book is fast-moving and entertaining. I read until midnight, then carried on at four the next morning! It is enjoyable, engrossing, fun, and certainly worth reading. I have put Catherine Pearce on my list of authors to look out for.
Book Title: Teaching with Chopsticks – TEFL from the Frontline
Part of Series: No
Author: Jonathan Last
Available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble
Number of words (approximately): 73756
Star Rating: (of five): Four
Summary: A young Englishman with no teaching experience takes a year-long job in Korea teaching English to young children. The book tells of his experiences, the people (both Korean and expats), the country and his development as a person.
‘An-yong ha-seyo,’ I stammer at Sam Kim. I haven’t slept for two days and several time zones, but I want to get my greeting right.
Sam, who’s done countless airport pickups, beams as if I’m witty and original.
‘Ha-ha, very good! Anyong Haseyo, Jon!’ My delivery was nothing like his; well, at least I remembered to bow.
We creep out of the airport car park and cruise along the motorway, past mountains, rice-paddy fields, more mountains.
Sam has a convertible Kia. All the other cars I see on the road are Korean too: Daewoos, Hyundais. On the dashboard is an in-car TV, made by LG. Sam’s shiny mobile’s a Samsung. With his black suit, grey turtleneck, slicked-back hair and sunglasses, Sam Kim resembles Chow Yun-Fat. He could be twenty-five or forty-five. He talks non-stop – reassuring and informing, papering over my nerves.
We pass a power plant of some kind.
‘Korea, very big recycling,’ Sam says. Koreans are proud of their country. I like this. We’ve been driving for over an hour when we enter the Sanbon district of Gunpo, a commuter town for Seoul. The landscape doesn’t get any flatter; the mountains are simply replaced by apartment blocks – dozens of cream-white, twenty-odd storey monoliths dotted with black windows, inverted dominos reaching far into the sky. I don’t see a single isolated home, and wonder if words like house and garden actually exist in the Korean lexicon, the same way cousin and sibling are virtually obsolete in China.
It’s half three in the afternoon, GMT+9, and I’m looking forward to checking into my new apartment and collapsing. However, my chauffeur has another stop to make first.
We pull into a car park cast into near-darkness by the ubiquitous apartment blocks There’s a much smaller building in the centre, which I find myself stumbling up to behind the striding Sam.
The ‘school’ is really an academy or hagwon, a place where parents send their children to get extra English tuition each day, straight after their regular schooling. The stereotypical image I had had in my mind of red brick buildings spread around a playground is shattered; the reality is the top floor of a four-storey block, the outside walls of which are busy with multi-coloured Hangul (Korean writing) signs, English being happy speak language institute.
Up the lift we go, and I see my new workplace for the first time. –
- It just so happens that I’ve arrived in time for the hagwon’s winter trip, so the next day I find myself ferrying tightly wrapped balls of scarf, hat and mitten onto two coaches, heading for local theme park Ever Land.
‘You can get to know the children better,’ Soon-yi nods meaningfully, her glasses opaque.
The place itself is a real Disney World rip-off: cartoon characters, parades, jolly songs played from speakers, huge castle motifs. This is the year of the golden pig, and images and souvenirs celebrating the fact surround us.
Soon-yi and I are in a group together, and I cling to her more dependently than any of the children. Presently, however, I’m caught up chatting with two of my charges. Anna is a really sweet girl who gives me chewing gum and clutches my hand firmly; James wears thick specs and never runs out of questions.
I’m just telling Anna about fish ‘n’ chips and dull British winters, when James says: ‘Jon Teacher, where is Soon-yi Teacher?’
I look up. No Soon-yi Teacher. It’s just me and a dozen children – we’ve wandered away from the pack. Even though the kids have worked out where we are on the map, I can’t read it. And the battery on my Korean mobile’s dead.
The children don’t panic; little Anna simply produces her own mobile and dials Soon-yi. She appears over the horizon soon enough, all smiles. ‘Thanks for looking after them, Jon,’ my supervisor says.
‘We were lost… I guess we fell behind,’ I stammer.
‘We helped Jon Teacher,’ says a beaming Anna.
‘He was lost but we telephone Soon-yi Teacher,’ adds James.
‘You had your first experience as a real teacher,’ Soon-yi laughs.
‘You’re not wrong’, I say to myself, as we head off to the zoo enclosure, my heart still pounding in my chest. -
Structure: The book is well-structured, reading pleasantly and with no obstructions.
Content: The book tells a number of stories simultaneously. It covers Jon’s development as a teacher and as a person. It tells of the characters who are drawn to these teaching jobs (as a fill-in, as a way to earn enough money to return home with a nest egg, as an experience of the foreign culture), of the life of a stranger in a strange land, of the influence the children have on the teacher. It is written frankly, with an engaging style and a command of the language that is enjoyable as well as comfortable.
Reviewer’s Comment: This book examines the sensations of being a foreigner in a strange culture, as well as many other things. It is sympathetic of the many differences between cultures, not gloating about the author’s ‘superiority’ at the same time as it describes how hard it is to break through from one culture to another. It is a must-read for anyone planning to change countries, and it is a book that can be enjoyed repeatedly. It is made for delving into, and for reading snippets out to friends, particularly foreign friends, or friends who are foreign in that land. I enjoyed every page, and I look forward keenly to Jonathan Last’s next book. I recommend it unreservedly.
Reviewed by Karin Buechler of the Reader’s.eBooks.Club
On this wonderful website, founded and owned by Mike Dion, you will find a fantastic selection of e-books to meet whatever interests and tastes you may have. New books appear every day, accompanied by book information and links to where they can be purchased.
Take a look now to see some of the beautiful book covers currently on display on their homepage!
To announce the release of Alan Hardy’s fifth novel, titled Gabriella, E-Books Publisher caught up with the author to discuss both the novel and his approach as a writer. Alan Hardy also gives us his insight into the the future of the written word and his decision to publish his novel in e-book format.
What inspired you to write Gabriella?
I think it’s a story that’s been buzzing around in my head for years, and it demanded to be written down. Adolescent love (and teenage fascination with sex) is a pretty significant time and experience for us all. The idea of a love-story set around a cricket match has its roots in an earlier pimply-faced version of me as a fast bowler when at school and the scary, obsessive ideas that went through my adolescent head. When I sat down to write the story, it automatically turned into a bawdy, comical narration of a young man’s faltering (though very sweaty) first experience of love and sex.
Who do you want to reach with your writing?
I think I want to reach as wide an audience as possible with the story. A story of elemental love and sexual desire is something readers of all ages can identify with, young as well as old. And there’s no reason cricket-lovers shouldn’t be able to take to ‘Gabriella’. After all, wicked, probing deliveries, rubbing the ball to give a bit of spin, doggedly defending your wicket, keeping out rising balls, trying to knock over the wicket, or squeeze one through, etc., are all excellent metaphors for the game of love.
What encouraged you to start writing?
I’ve been writing poetry for many years, with some success. I wrote a novel or two when I was very young, but have only recently returned to writing novels. I think it’s always a lame excuse to say you just don’t have time to write a novel, what with work, or study, or family commitments, etc., that there just aren’t enough moments in the day… What I’ve found is that when you do finally start writing (you know, call time on all those excuses), then there are more than enough hours and minutes in the day to keep on and on writing. So, don’t listen to those excuses. Find the time. Write that novel that’s been buzzing around in your head such a long time. You won’t regret it.
Do you plan on writing in the future?
I have written four other novels, and certainly intend to write more.They are an eclectic bunch: one an exciting tale of spies, intrigue and sexual shenanigans in World War One; another an original take on the theme of time-travel, with a good many stings in the ‘tale’; another recounting a story of obsessive, near-pathological love; and one a bawdy, no-holds-barred satirical, even vicious romp through our world of celebrities, reality TV shows and royal fascination. Where you have to be careful is to make sure you always have at the very least a rough outline of the plot, and know where you intend going before you start the serious writing. Then it seems to write itself. My novels tend to be surreal and a bit wacky, with a generous helping of romance, sex, adventure and satire. As well as being a good, exciting read, I think they also hold up something of a critical mirror to our class-based society. I think there are many elements in our society that need to be made fun of.
What do you think of e-books?
I think they are obviously the future. The old type of book, an object you could hold in your hands or salivate over as it lay on your bookcase shelf, will soon be a thing of the past. Books for a library, a sort of middle-class variation on stamp-collecting, is outmoded. E-books herald a future where reading becomes more universal, something we can all do and share, and which is easy and convenient. There won’t be any stuffy class-divisions between ‘paperback’ and hardback’ any more, we’re all in it together.
Which writer from anywhere in history (inc. present day), would you like to meet and what would you like to ask them?
Maybe Oscar Wilde. As we all know, he was a great talker as well as writer, so probably I would be too gobsmacked to get in a word edgeways.
Why have you chosen to publish an e-book?
It’s a great opportunity, for me and for us all. It’s a way of reaching as big and immediate an audience as possible, through a medium that’s modern, functional and accessible. And relevant to everyone’s lives as they are now lived, with mobiles, lap-tops, etc. It’s life as we now know it.
Chris Birch is a former journalist and the author of three books. The Milk Jug Was A Goat focuses on Chris’s descendants who helped govern St Kitts and Nevis whilst it was a British colony throughout the period from the 17th to the 20th century. The book is based on family papers and three years’ research at the National Archives.
Extensive quotations from contemporary official correspondence give a strong flavour of the times and bring home forcibly the difficulties experienced by the British government in running the British Empire in the days before air transport, radio and telephones, when it could take a couple of months for letters to get from London to the West Indies if they were not lost at sea.
The Milk Jug Was A Goat is comparable with Richard Pares’s A West-India Fortune, published in 1950 and generally regarded as a classic of socio-economic British colonial history, but it covers a much longer period.
Here, we interview Chris to find out more about the book and how he became a writer.
What inspired you to write The Milk Jug Was A Goat?
Having written an account of my family, starting with my parents and going back to 1635 (Ten Generations, now out of print), I was fascinated by the fact that my Burt ancestors and to a lesser extent my Berridge ancestors had played a large part in running St Kitts and Nevis and other parts of the British Empire for 300 years. The subtitle of The Milk Jug Was A Goat is Two families, two Caribbean islands, 1635 – 1987, and the book is in fact a history of St Kitts and Nevis and an account of the early development of Western Australia.
Who do you want to reach with your writing?
Anyone interested in the history of the British Empire in general and especially the West Indian colonies.
What encouraged you to start writing?
Having accidentally become a journalist at the age of 29, I discovered I enjoyed writing. So, when I retired from journalism, I wrote three books, the two mentioned above and my autobiography (My Life, St Christopher Press). I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
Do you plan on writing in the future?
I don’t plan to write any more books. But never say never. Who knows?
Did you buy e-books before you published yours?
Which writer, from anywhere in history (inc. present day), would you like to meet and what would you like to ask them?
I would like to meet George Bernard Shaw, and I would ask him how on Earth he managed to write so much, so brilliantly and so entertainingly and what he thought of David Cameron.
Why have you chosen to publish an e-book?
E-Books Publisher offered to publish The Milk Jug Was A Goat as an e-book and I jumped at the chance to reach a new and different public.
Alan Hardy is a director of an English language school for foreign students. His previous works include two poetry pamphlets: Wasted Leaves, 1996, and I Went With Her, 2007. He has also had poems published in such magazines as Orbis, Iota, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Nottingham, Poetry Salzburg Review, Poetry Cornwall, and others.
The writer of no fewer than five novels, they could be described as surreal, exploring the nature of relationships: romantic and sexual. They also explore Britain’s class-system, with liberal use of comedy and satire, creating original and riveting settings full of humour, romance, sex and adventure.
Gabriella is a bawdy, comic account of love and sex during a cricket match, where red balls, long-handled bats and probing deliveries are ideal metaphors for the game of love. This is a game of cricket played in a way you’ve never seen before.
Watch the love contest between Gabriella, the aristocratic hot totty, and Jim, the virginal working-class rebel. Read of Jim’s balls smashing against Gabriella’s body and rearing up between her legs as she pads up and tries to fight off his probing deliveries.
Thrill to Jim’s vicious balls divesting Gabriella of her sexy clothing until she stands defiant in her naked and beautiful glory.
Read spellbound as Gabriella comes close to losing Jim to a rival. Find out the truth about Gabriella’s parentage. Follow Jim and Gabriella with ball and bat as they play out cricket’s equivalent of sexual intercourse. Will Jim and Gabriella live happily ever after, or will someone destroy Gabriella’s plans?