Today I am thrilled to bring you a guest post and a poem from Karen Ankers, author of The Crossing Place. Karen has written a fabulous post about herself and her writing and I hope you enjoy reading it. Book information, author bio and links are further down the page but before you get there make sure you read the poem, it’s stunning!
I have always enjoyed playing with words. So my first attempt at serious writing was poetry, because I loved (and still love) the way that words in a poem work on more than one level, creating a powerful resonance. I joined a local poetry group when I was seventeen and to my surprise they liked my work. They went on to publish my poems in several of their anthologies and I probably wouldn’t be writing today if it wasn’t for that early support and encouragement. When I got married and had children, I allowed my energy to be diverted from my writing, although I still wrote poetry occasionally. It wasn’t until my children were older that I decided to take my writing seriously.
When I moved to Anglesey in 1997, I joined a writing group led by my friend and fellow poet Fiona Owen, who really encouraged me to develop my work. I also joined a local repertory company and it was the experience of being on stage that led to my starting to write plays. So far, I have written eight one-act plays, which have been published by Lazy Bee Scripts and have been performed in the UK, USA, Australia and Malaysia. One day, maybe, one will be performed near enough to my home for me to go and watch it! In my plays, I try to give a voice to those who would otherwise not have one and although the subject matter can sometimes be rather dark, it is always thought-provoking.
Last year I published a collection of poetry. One Word At A Time contains 53 poems and is described by poet/performer Laura Taylor as “a collection that shines with honesty and integrity”. I find that poetry is an excellent way of exploring emotions and ideas.
Earlier this year, my first novel, The Crossing Place, was published by Stepping Stones Publishing. A dark-edged love story set in Chester, where I grew up, this novel ran the risk of never being finished. I actually started writing it about fifteen years ago. When I thought it was finished, I sent it to a publisher. They, quite rightly, sent it back, because it was nowhere near ready. However, their comments about it were very positive, and I decided it was worth reworking. But life got in the way and it was shelved. Many years later, I started writing a different novel, but found that my heart really wasn’t in it. When I mentioned this to a writer friend, she suggested I have another look at the earlier novel, because I obviously needed to get it out of my system. I moved some of the characters into it that I had created for the second, unsuccessful one, and the story took on a new life. After many, many hours of being thoroughly unsociable and staring at a computer screen, it was finally finished and was published in January.
People ask me sometimes whether I will ever settle down to one kind of writing, but that’s not going to happen. I am a storyteller, and stories find their own shape. Sometimes if I’m struggling to write something, it’s because I’m trying to force it into a shape that doesn’t fit. I recently gave up a soul destroying job and am waiting to see what life will be like as a struggling wordsmith! It’s great, though, when someone asks me what I do, to be able to reply, “I’m a writer”. My diary is filling up with invitations to talk to writing groups, so it looks like being a really interesting and creative year.
Here is one of the poems from One Word At A Time. A poem inspired by a very short meeting with a young lady in London last year. A lady whose life was not going as well as she deserved, but whose story I felt I had to tell.
MEETING AT EUSTON
a girl with city faded eyes
excuses her request for a pound
says she’s never been on the streets before
tells me in a worn tobacco coated voice
she needs the money for a bus
as if I need a reason to be kind
the coin in my hand is bright
as she once was
has unquestioned value
as she once did
when her eyes and soul still shone
before promises and practised lies
took her light as deposit
on oxygen and pavement space
the metal that slides from my palm to hers
courts the sun
just for a second fairytale gold
illumines the touch of our hands
and in that moment more is passed
skin meets soul remembered skin
blood beats between us
each strengthening the other
in the time it would have taken
to turn and cross the road
The Crossing Place
Blurb: The Crossing Place is a dark-edged love story. Laura is frustrated with her mundane life, her boring job, and marriage to a man she no longer loves. But she does not expect things to change so dramatically and so suddenly. An accidental encounter with a homeless stranger leaves her shaken and confused, before a series of unsettling dreams disturbs her further and leaves her questioning her own sanity.
When Laura meets Paul Jayston, a handsome, charismatic past-life counsellor, she is very sceptical about his beliefs. When he suggests that her dreams might be memories of a past life, she insists there must be a rational explanation. One particularly difficult dream has her turning to Paul for help and advice, but when she is confronted by revelations about his past, Laura has to make a choice. Should she allow herself to be guided by the alternative world-view of a man with strange ideas and a questionable past, or should she try and deal alone with the unsettling things she keeps seeing?
When danger comes from an unexpected source, both Laura and Paul find themselves having to confront not only very real threats in the present, but also doubts and fears from the past.
Karen Ankers lives in Anglesey, North Wales, where she draws inspiration for her writing from Wales’ mythic landscape and from the Celtic storytelling tradition. She started her writing career as a poet and has had poems published in various magazines and anthologies. Her first poetry collection, One Word At A Time, was published last year and she regularly reads at local spoken word events. She also writes one-act plays, in which she tries to give a voice to those usually ignored and unheard. These plays are published by Lazy Bee Scripts and have been performed in the UK, America, Australia and Malaysia. Her first novel, The Crossing Place, was published in January 2018 by Stepping Stones Publishing.