4 January 2019

Novel Conversations With Rosalind Minett and Billy

 In conjunction with Indie BRAG
every Friday

To be a little different from the usual 'meet the author' 
let's meet a character...

a little boy: Billy
Lonely, Hiding, Sad, Young, Alone

Q: Hello, I’m Helen the host of Novel Conversations, please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, orange squash? You’ll find apacket of chocolate biscuits on the table, please do help yourself - go on take two. I believe you are a character in Rosalind Minett's novels, Intrusion, Infiltration and Impact. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role?  
A: I'm Billy. I didn’t intend to be a lead character but the whole story is told through my perspective.

Q: What genre is the novel and what is it about?
A: The story is set in the period 1937 to 1951. It takes three books to tell.

Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)
A: I try hard to please, but by the second half of the third book I am reflecting on what I had earlier thought was true.

Q:  Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: It’s Kenneth, my cousin. The three books revolve around our relationship, our rivalry I suppose.  Kenneth is older than me, but smaller. He’s frail and so talented… but devious. He bests me at every turn, whatever I do, however much he’s in the wrong. He turns things around so that he looks perfect, and because of his looks and polite way of talking, all the adults believe him. It’s still the same when we’re adults ourselves.

Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A: I’m the protagonist in all the books of the series, except for the Prequel. That’s before I’m born.

Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: Do I have to talk about it? It’s so painful. It’s when the tension between myself and Kenneth reaches a climax. He just went too far. All my life he’s invaded everything. Whatever I had, he wanted (and often took). Whatever I liked, my friends, all of my secrets, he had to be there. Well, I can’t undo what happened. I’ll live with it forever. Kenneth has made sure of that.

Q: And your favourite scene?
A:  It’s when I was given a bravery medal by the mayor in the village where I was evacuated. That happens in Book Two. At last I had something to feel proud about, and even Kenneth wanted to tell everyone that I was his cousin.

Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has she/he written any other books?
A: You know, I haven’t even thought about my author, my family has taken all my attention. But yes, come to think about it, she has written books that aren’t about me. I heard someone say she was stupid not to stick to the one genre - historical fiction - but she hasn’t. She has published some crime short stories, not suitable for me to read, and a collection of satirical short stories about women.; Me-Time Tales, tea breaks for mature women and curious men. I wouldn’t be interested in those, of course, and I don’t know what ‘satirical’ means. Kenneth will, and he’ll sneer at me because I don’t.

Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A: I just asked her. Another genre! What is wrong with her! She has two contemporary novels in process, and another collection of short stories, this time about Curious Men.

Q: How do you think indie authors, such as your author, can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for him/her personally?
A: Goodness. I thought authors were there just to produce us characters. I didn’t think of them as needing help. I suppose they do. My author always has her nose to the grindstone and I think if there were reader groups that asked her to talk to them, that might be very useful. I’d always thought she was quite boring, but actually she’s a good speaker. My father said so, and he’s very critical always, usually finding a quotation from the ancients to comment on what’s happening.

Q: Finally, before we must bid adieu, the novel you appear in has been awarded a prestigious IndieBRAG Medallion, does your author find this helpful, and is there anything else he/she would like IndieBRAG to do to help indie authors receive the recognition they deserve?
A: My author was proud to receive an Indie Brag Medallion. She wouldn’t wear it round her neck even if it was made of gold - she’s like that. But it would be good if there were a public list of medallion winners.

Helen: Thank you Billy, it was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt from the first book in theseries?

While she does that, would you like some more orange squash - and how about some more chocolate biscuits? Here’s to being a successful Brag Medallion Honouree!

October 22nd 1937.  Today the Duke and Duchess of Windsor met Herr Hitler at Berghof

Kenneth. Until now he’d been just a name on a Christmas card written by someone else. Kenneth. Billy felt his tongue thick against his lips. It felt the same when he said ‘filth’. ‘Filthy’ was the word Mother used when he’d got dirty knees playing outside.
He bent down to his hobby horse’s hard white head. The furry strip along the top of its neck was nice to stroke. He whispered into the leathery ear, ‘Do you know? We’re really, really going to have a boy to play with here, in our house! He’s called a cousin.’
The horse’s wheel was shiny red like a ripe tomato and when its head was pressed down, the wheel squeaked. Really, that was the horse talking. Horsey always said it would be jolly good if Jim and Andrew could come over after school. But Mother said it would be too much to have a child here to play.
Now he would!
He smiled to himself. Yesterday, he’d felt really important at News Time. Miss Peake was kind and sometimes wore a pretty blouse. He’d put up his hand.
‘Billy? Do you have some news for us?’
‘I’ve got a cousin and he’s coming to my house.’
‘My cousin lives next door,’ said Sonia.
Dick and Mick shouted out that they had UMPTEEN cousins not silly old ONE.
‘No such number, umpteen.’ Sonia was clever, and she knew.
‘Loads, anyway.’
‘Yes, loads ’n loads.’
‘Now twins, that’s not very nice’. Miss Peake smiled, ‘We’re all happy that Billy has his cousin visiting, aren’t we, children?’
‘Yes, Miss Peake,’ everyone chanted.
At home time, he’d told Mother, 'Miss Peake is ever so pleased that my cousin is visiting.'
Mother’s mouth moved into something like a smile, only not as nice. ‘Perhaps she’d like to entertain him, then.’
CONNECT WITH Rosalind Minett
Twitter: @MinettRosalind

Twitter: @IndieBrag

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  1. Tim sounds like someone we need to get to know better. Nice interview!

  2. Thank you Helen and thank you Billy. I especially appreciate your comment on the B.R.A.G.Medallion- I hope some of our amazing authors will think about ways and places a list of books that have the B.R.A.G.Medallion can be showcased other than on our website! We have a few ideas in the works so keep posted!

    1. One of the useful things to come out of Novel Conversations (apart from supporting and drawing attention to the authors) is gaining some fresh ideas for IndieBrag!

  3. How interesting to hear from a young boy and his different views on things!

    1. It is interesting that our views now is so different to those during the war - is there any parent, now, who would send a young child off to live with total strangers? On the other hand if it was a matter of keeping them safe...???

  4. Great to meet you Billy. I’d really love to read your family’s story and get a perspective of life back in the days when my Dad was about your age. Well done for your BRAG medal too!

  5. My husband was 5 when WWII started, yet remembers little of it - he says the children just took it all for granted - even the bombing (he lived NE London)

  6. Very interesting interview, the relationship between the two boys sounds complex and well worth exploring.


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