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Author Spotlight no.81 – Trish Nicholson

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the eighty-first, is of non-fiction and short story writer Trish Nicholson.

A writer and photographer as well as an anthropologist, Trish had careers in regional government, management training, university tutoring, research, and finally, travelling the world to work on aid and development projects. A compulsive scribbler, during those years her writings included a monthly column, and feature articles for national newspapers in UK and Australia, as well as books on anthropology, management and tourism. Trish enjoyed writing non-fiction, but she feared that the storytelling of her childhood was lost forever until she settled on a hillside in New Zealand twelve years ago, where she now writes full time and is a member of the New Zealand Society of authors.

Encouraged by a few wins and anthology publications, she is working on her storytelling skills which she believes are equally important for writing non-fiction. She applies this creed to her weekly blog posts which include stories, reviews, travel tales and photo-essays as well as posts on writing.

Last year, Trish signed up with Collca to write for their new ebook series, illustrated BiteSize Travel, which allows her to indulge her passion for photography. Masks of the Moryons: Easter Week in Mogpog, was released in December 2011; Journey in Bhutan: Himalayan Trek in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon, was released on 20 April 2012.

And now from the author herself:

Aspiring writers are told, ‘write about what you know’, so I suppose I should be grateful for having had a varied life, but it wasn’t only travelling as an adult that broadened my experience, my childhood was survived against a background of constant change. By my teens, we’d lived in as many homes as I’d had birthdays. The downside, apart from favourite books being ‘lost in the move’ ­– a family catch-phrase and favourite explanation of all things disappeared – was being always the new girl at school and a perpetual ‘outsider’.  Much later in life I discovered this could be a distinct advantage to a writer.

With friends ‘lost in the move’ so often, I invented my own companions, having long conversations with them under the stairs, in the bathroom, behind the chicken shed, anywhere I could get away from adults’ flapping ears. Our squabbles and adventures were my first stories, told to my dog Sebastian who sat on the floor beside me, enthralled by every word.

But stories were soon knocked out of me at school: I learnt the hard way about genre and knuckled down to write essays on the industrial revolution, and the mating habits of dogfish. My choices at university ­– anthropology and geography with a side serving of psychology – brought further discipline with the need to check and cite authorities as well as generate original material, but I loved every minute of it; the pattern for my future was firmly laid.

While still at school I had sent a letter to New York: ‘Dear United Nations, I really want to work with people in foreign countries when I grow up. Please tell me how I can do this.’ Some kind soul on a long tea break replied to me, saying I should gain qualifications in almost any subject that I enjoyed, spend about 20 years gaining experience in that field, and then apply for overseas positions. And that is more or less what happened.

The ‘moving’ became a permanent feature of my life, going from university to various jobs in the UK, in Europe, and finally to the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, to a score of countries. I paused for a few extra years in the Philippines to complete a PhD in applied anthropology, but travelling and trekking anywhere I hadn’t been before became my practice when not actually working. Inevitably, ‘outsider’ status became permanent as well.

It sounds like a Zen mantra, but distance brings you closer. Detachment is essential for research, journalism, travel and other non-fiction writing; not that any writer can entirely avoid subjectivity, but being aware of it leads to better balance. In seeking ideas for fiction, too, detachment can enliven all your senses: outsiders notice more. People also talk to lone travellers more readily. Whenever anyone sits next to me on a bus or plane they inevitably tell me their life story – a writer needs to be such a fly paper; it makes for stickier stories.

I loved that, thank you, Trish. You can find more about Trish and her writing via…her website http://www.trishnicholsonswordsinthetreehouse.com (and she really does have a tree house). She is also on Twitter @TrishaNicholson.

InsideStoriesPbookCover-webHer latest travel book, Journey in Bhutan: Himalayan Trek in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon, pictured above, is available on Amazon US, UK, and other e-retailers, for further information and to read the Preface to the ebook go to http://collca.com/jib. Masks of the Moryons: Easter Week in Mogpog is available from http://collca.com/motm.

Update July 2013: “Now, fortunately for us, Trish has returned to her stories, including 15 of them analysed and critiqued in her latest book Inside Stories for Writers and Readers, a companion to inspire and entertain, in which she explores the relationship between a writer’s voice and a reader’s voice when they meet in a story.“

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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.

I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:

Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group

We look forward to reading your comments.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in articles, ebooks, non-fiction, writing

 

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Author Spotlight no.64 – Jeff Rasley

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the sixty-fourth, is of non-fiction and thriller writer Jeff Rasley.

Jeff Rasley is author of Light in the Mountains — A Hoosier Quaker finds Communal Enlightenment in Nepal, Islands in My Dreams, Nepal Himalayas — in the Moment, False Prophet? and Bringing Progress to Paradise.

He practiced law for thirty years in Indianapolis, Indiana and was admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar.  He has an outstanding academic record: graduate of the University of Chicago, A.B. magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, All-Academic All-State Football Team and letter winner in swimming and football; Indiana University School of Law, J.D. cum laude, Moot Court and Indiana Law Review; Christian Theological Seminary, M.Div. magna cum laude, co-valedictorian and Faculty Award Scholar.

Jeff is currently President of the Basa Village Foundation USA Inc. and U.S. liaison for the Nepal-based Himalayan expedition company, Adventure GeoTreks, Ltd.  He teaches classes for IUPUI Continuing Ed. Program and Indiana Writers Center.

For chairing the Indiana-Tennessee Civic Memorial Commission, Jeff received Proclamations of Salutation from the Governors of Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania and he was made an honorary Lieutenant Colonel Aide-de-Camp of the Alabama State Militia, a Kentucky Colonel and honorary Citizen of Tennessee.  He was given a Key to the City of Indianapolis for his report on the safety conditions of Indy Parks.  Jeff received the Man of the Year award from the Arthur Jordan YMCA.

Jeff has published numerous articles and photos in academic and mainstream periodicals, including Newsweek, Chicago Magazine, ABA Journal, Family Law Review, Pacific Magazine, Indy’s Child, The Journal of Communal Societies, The Chrysalis Reader, Faith & Fitness Magazine, Friends Journal and Real Travel Adventures International Magazine.  He gives programs about adventure travel and philanthropy to service clubs, community organizations and churches.  He is an avid outdoorsman and recreational athlete.  He leads trekking-mountaineering expeditions in Nepal and has solo-kayaked around several Pacific island groups.  Jeff also loves to read and considers completing Marcel Proust’s 3600-page Remembrance of Things Past as one of his most enjoyable accomplishments.

Married to Alicia Rasley, Jeff is a multi-published author, RITA Award winner, and University professor.

And now from the author himself:

I started writing bad poetry as a teenager and graduated to short stories and feature articles in college.  I honed my craft at feature article writing as much as time permitted through graduate schools, practicing law, domestic husbandry and raising two sons.  My loves other than wife, kids and writing have been sports and what has been called adventure travel.

After one semester I dropped out of college and hitch-hiked across the country.  I spent the next summer traveling around Europe by any means necessary.  The following summer I motorcycled from Northern Indiana to Mexico City.  Career, marriage and kids slowed me down somewhat, but I have set foot in over 40 countries.  I’ve climbed several Himalayan peaks and have been leading Himalayan trekking and mountaineering expeditions for a decade.  I managed to survive an avalanche and getting lost at sea in a solo kayak in the Palau Islands.

Eventually travel for the sake of adventure and personal curiosity was insufficiently meaningful.  I began to “philanthro-trek” – combining travel with philanthropy in the new millennium.   A special relationship developed with a remote Himalayan village.  Two friends and I were only the third group of “white people” to visit the village.  Leaders of the village and I established the Basa Village Project, which has grown into a Nepal-based NGO and a U.S. nonprofit corporation to benefit Basa and other Himalayan villages.

Three of the books I have written tell the story of how I came to have a special relationship with the Rai people and the wisdom I have gained from them about environmentalism, spirituality and community.  I have tried to give a truthful account of the 3 Cups of Tea received from my friends in the Nepal Himalayas.

A fourth book, Islands in My Dreams is an anthology of personal essays about unique island cultures I have experienced in my travels.  For example, Tonga has the fattest kings and the longest ruling family dynasty of current monarchs.  Palau is the most litigious society on earth with three lawsuits for every citizen.  Islands are where dreams and nightmares come true.

False Prophet? is my first attempt at fiction, although it is inspired by a case I handled twenty years ago.  It is an inspirational mystery, romantic suspense and political / legal thriller; a story of love lost and found and a rant against the inequities of the legal system.  The story is gritty but uplifting.  It reveals the seamy underside of local politics in Indianapolis.  But it also shows how white folks and African-Americans can work together for justice.  The love story is one of frustration and self-destruction, but ultimately understanding, reconciliation, renewed intimacy and a baby.

Thank you, Jeff. 🙂 You can find more about Jeff and his writing via his website www.jeffreyrasley.com

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with editor and novelist Jennifer Ciotta – the two hundred and ninety-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo (Amazon to follow). And I have a new forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org.

 

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