Meet Author Valerie Poore, Living Life HER Way.
Best selling author Valerie Poore’s books include “Watery Ways,” “Walloon Ways,” “African Ways,” “Harbour Ways,” “How to Breed Sheep, Geese And English Eccentrics, and “The Skipper’s Child.” Her secret to success could be her courage to live life her way, never abandoning dreams no matter how impossible they seem. I am honored that she agreed to share my blog this week.
Val, do you remember what age were you when you decided to become a writer and what inspired you to make that decision? What is the earliest writing success you remember? Have there been any heartbreak rejections? If so…what kept you going?
Oh my goodness, Steph, I cannot remember ever not writing something. I wrote reams of stories as a child and then later, I wrote more descriptive articles. I also had to write for my work as a communications manager, so that meant a lot of copywriting for ads and brochures as well as newsletters. But the actual decision to write seriously for myself started in South Africa. I spent so much time listening to the radio that I decided to try my hand at writing plays for broadcast. Sadly, I never had any luck and had a few rejections from the SABC (SA’s broadcasting corporation) as well as from the BBC, but I did have a short story broadcast on a Christian radio station. It was a story about a minister who finds a kitten and on returning it to its atheist owner, starts an unusual friendship that leads them into all sorts of philosophical discussions. It had a happy and (I still think) rather touching ending.
It sounds like a marvelous story. I would enjoy reading it – but then, I enjoy reading everything you write! Your young adult book “The Skipper’s Child” is fiction, based on history and fact which, I believe, gives it added dimension and interest for readers. It has – along with some of your other books – been a best seller. “How to Breed Sheep, Geese, and English Eccentrics” seems to be fictionalized non-fiction. The rest of your books are non-fiction in the memoir genre. Which do you enjoy writing most and why? Do you have a future writing project in mind that is different from the books you’ve already written? And if so, would you like to discus it?
Well, I’m not sure if you would call any of them real best sellers, but I’ve been lucky enough to have The Skipper’s Child and two of my memoirs at the top of their respective categories for a while, so that’s been a huge thrill. As for the mix between fact and fiction, yes, I can’t seem to get away from fact completely. All the same, I enjoy writing fiction as it allows me the creative freedom to invent things that I don’t have with memoir writing. I have never written anything as completely fictitious as you have though – not yet! My next book is a novel set in Africa but is still based on my life there. The one after that will be much more of a challenge as it involves more research into the history of the waterways than I’ve ever needed to do before and it will be completely fictitious story. I’m really excited about it, actually. The idea is for a novel about a Dutch skipper’s efforts to escape from the Germans during the war. It will start with the bombardment of Rotterdam, which was much more horrific than I ever realised.
What a great idea, Val. Like all your other books, I can’t wait to read it! Now, let me ask this: “Watery Ways,” “Harbour Ways,” and “Walloon Ways” all detail restoring barges and adapting to living on the water. I love what one reviewer said, “Val makes even plumbing interesting.” What are the disadvantages of barge living? Do you expect to always live on a barge or do you want to plant your life back on solid ground someday?
Ah, Steph, I am already in a kind of transitional phase. I don’t spend all the time on my barge anymore as my partner finds it too small and uncomfortable these days, so I live with him in a house at weekends and on my barge during the week when I’m alone in Rotterdam for work. The disadvantages I have are only because of the location of my home harbour, which is on a tidal river in the middle of the city. The challenges come from problems with excessively high or low tides combined with wind, and of noise from being in the city’s social hub. If I were to move to a different location, there wouldn’t be any disadvantages as far as I’m concerned, but it’s not a ‘switch on the light and turn on the tap’ kind of life. You have to sort out your own electrical connections, fix your own plumbing and fill up water tanks on a regular basis. It’s hard work, and I’ve had to learn how to do it all myself, but I don’t see that as a downside. Quite the reverse – it’s all be part of the adventure.
I love your sense of adventure, Val! Along with brilliant writing, it’s what makes your books so much fun to read. Even though you might deny it, you are also courageous and that pops out from the words on the pages when you detail the difficulty and hard work involved in building your life on a floating foundation. Another question, from “Walloon Ways” and anecdotes about your dog Sindy, and from “How to Breed Sheep, Geese, and English Eccentrics, it’s obvious you love animals. Do you ever plan to retire from your barge and fill your life with animals again? How difficult is it to keep a dog on a barge?
Oh yes, I love animals – probably more than most people really. Having a big dog on a barge was quite a challenge, and when Sindy got old, it was really difficult, especially as she hated being on the move too. Because of that, I won’t have another dog or cat until I lead a more settled life, but yes, I would love to have animals again. I miss Sindy terribly, even now. One day, though, I’ll have another dog, a small one though, and a cat too. I’d really like to have chickens as well. They are the funniest, most delightful creatures to have and to watch – just the job for when I get old and want to stay at home more, and then I can have my own eggs as well!
I’m sure you will have all of that and more some day. You might even run your own farm when you exchange your watery ways for walking ways. It’s been so much fun having you here today. Delightful. Thank you. Before you leave to get back to your busy life, what would you most like readers to know about you and your books?
Wow, that’s a difficult question, but a good one! I think all I really want people to know is that life can always be an adventure if you just get up every day with a sense of wonder and curiosity, and I hope my books reflect this. Of course I’ve had my ups and downs, but my attitude is always to keep exploring, keep trying new things and keep enjoying every opportunity, however challenging it is. It’s taught me about places and introduced me to wonderful people I might never have encountered otherwise. I suffered from depression and crippling shyness as a teenager, but going to Africa cured me of both. It was the best thing I could have done and I think it’s what taught me to be open to everything and to cherish every experience, both good and bad.
I can’t imagine you ever having suffered from depression and crippling shyness, Val. You have done as marvelous a job of reinventing yourself as you have your lifestyle and your barges. That makes you an inspiration for others, especially those who are facing the same battles in their lives. Thank you so much for joining me today.