Jera’s Jamboree : Feature Post Julia Ibbotson

I’m delighted to be welcoming Julia Ibbotson to Jera’s Jamboree today.

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I’m thrilled to bits to be touring with Shaz and Fiction Addiction Book Tours this month, with my first-born published book (I’m not counting the many academic papers and texts I’ve had published, as to me they’re not “real books”, the ones you can snuggle down with by the fire or in the sunshine by the pool and lose yourself in them). My baby – sorry, book – is called The Old Rectory: escape to a country kitchen. It’s won four international book festival awards (London, best in biography category, Paris, New York and New England) and gained some lovely five star reviews on Amazon. I hope I’m not being greedy but I hope that there’ll be even more after the book tour. And to think that this progeny might never have happened had my Australian and American friends not persuaded me to write about the Victorian house in the middle of England’s moorlands that my husband and I had renovated five years ago. It took us a good three years of toil, sweat and (many) tears. But it was all worthwhile in the end, not least because my book was born as a result of it all.

My book tells the story of the renovation, not only of the house, but also of lives, of the historical research we undertook, unearthing tales of the people who lived there, and their lives in the Victorian, Edwardian and wartime eras, and in the present day! History seeps from the stones the house was built with and it’s there in the walls of the kitchen and it’s in me as I cook for my family and friends. I can imagine those bygone days, those cooks who made meals in my kitchen so many years ago, leading lives so very different from that of mine today. The book tells of my belief that the kitchen is the heart of the home and of our love of having family and friends around the table, laughing and enjoying food together. The end of every chapter has recipes pertaining to the era or event depicted in that chapter: food for the soul like Sticky Toffee Pudding, English cream tea, braised lamb shanks, Victorian pound cake and boozy plum pud.

The birth of my book was wonderful because, as the years went by, I never thought I would really write and publish, yet this was my childhood passion. I loved farms, horses, dogs and adventures (albeit on a little-girl scale) and I wrote about them copiously. I filled notebook after notebook with stories, and eventually wrote my first novel at the age of 10. It was never to see the light of day, never to be published. Indeed it never arrived on a publisher’s desk. Most of my stories were locked up in dusty drawers and cupboards, in old cardboard boxes, having moved house with me 12 times in my life. I always wanted to be an author, but cries of “that’s not a proper job!” diverted me into the job all girls were recommended in those days – teaching (“so convenient when you marry and have children of your own – you get the school holidays”). I taught English  in secondary schools, where I taught about other people’s books, and then in universities as an academic where I taught teachers. But yes, I wrote even then, but mainly academic texts and papers on my research.

And then came the moment when I took my friends’ advice (“you write really well”, “write about this amazing rectory”, “write about the house and the village – it’s like Midsomer Murders!”) and I decided to take the plunge and write creatively again – and actually publish this time, for real!

I announced the “birth of my baby” on my blog (www.juliaibbotson.com) and that was really how it felt. I gave (actual) birth to two daughters, so I know how real the metaphor is – the joy of pregnancy, the pain of labour, the glorious elation of a new baby appearing to the world, and being placed in my hands. Just like authoring a published book.

And, as for now, I’m encouraged to go on writing, but now it’s my preferred genre, novels. My next book is called Drumbeats and is the first novel in a trilogy about Jess. This one is set in the 1960s, the era of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Spencer Davis Group, the Kinks. It’s the time of the monochrome mini dress, the gamine haircut, the thick full fringed Mary Quant bob, the oversized sunglasses, the knee high white laced granny boots, and the Saturday night “hop”. The days of dancing to “Roll over Beethoven”, “Honky Tonk Woman”, “Keep on Running”, and smooching to “Hey, hey baby, I wanna know-ow-ow if you’ll be my girl”.  But wait…oh goodness, what? Some of these are back? Ah, but those were different times then, more innocent times. Those were the days of smooching, and making out (“petting”) in the back row of the movies, not the hardly-ever-spoken-aloud word “sex” (whispered), a time when “going out” actually meant going out ( to the “flicks” or a walk), not going to bed, the days of “oh gosh!”, “stonking” and “blooming”, not the “f” word.

My gentle, innocent (fairly), young heroine Jess is eighteen years old and fleeing her stifling family to become a volunteer teacher and nurse in the African bush, in Ghana. There she grows up, comes of age, and learns some of life’s not-so-sweet lessons. It’s a story of love, loss, adventure and tragedy set against the backdrop of war torn West Africa in the 60s. It’ll be out in the autumn – hopefully in time for the Christmas stockings, so look out for it on Amazon, in paperback and kindle editions.  A little secret – the setting is authentic, as I myself was in Ghana at that tumultuous time, so some bits may be true – who knows? I’m certainly not telling!

So, as I juggle finalising Drumbeats, and having fun on the Fiction Addiction Book Tour with The Old Rectory this month, I’d love to hear from you, and what you think of the book, so please leave a message on:

My website

Amazon

My author Facebook page 

Boozy plum pud sounds great!

Drumbeats sounds intriguing doesn’t it?

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Follow the tour to see great guest posts, interviews and of course honest reviews.

You will have the chance to enter to grab bookmarks, postcards, keyrings, pens and an ecopy of The Old Rectory.

Date

Tour Host

19th August

Dizzy C’s Little Book Blog

20th August

Today I’m Reading

21st August

Crimson Flower Reviews

22nd August

Bookalicious Travel Addict

23rd August

Cosmochicklitan

26th August

Bookboodle

27th August

Rhoda Baxter Inheritance Books

28th August

Thoughts on the Matter

29th August

Book Reviews by Dee

30th August

Books, Reviews, Etc

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6 thoughts on “Jera’s Jamboree : Feature Post Julia Ibbotson

  1. Aw, Julia, you’ve lived my dream. I definitely must check out your novel as soon as I possibly can. One day, I want to do just that: take a rambling old house that’s falling apart and restore it from scratch to its glory, with perhaps a few modern touches thrown in for good measure. Also… if it happened to be by the sea, ever so much the better. Thanks for hosting Julia and her story here today, Shaz!

  2. Missed you on your tour yesterday but very glad to see you here today, J
    ulia. You deserve lots of 5 star reviews and much success. It’s a super book and you might even inspire me to stop buying ready-made meals and cook for my poor old hubby. Actually, you live nearby…any chance of a takeaway? LOL.
    Good luck with the rest of the tour. I am looking forward to reading Drumbeats and see you tomorrow!

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