Continuing the series of Five Fascinating I Am Facts, Novels Now welcomes Jackie Ley, writer, and author of The Angels of the Jardin Massey. Take it away, Jackie…
Fascinating Fact One
Twelve years ago I had the last rites administered by an Episcopalian minister in a church in St Andrews. I was taking part in a production of the medieval mystery play ‘Everyman’, adapted by the director so that ‘everyman’ became ‘everywoman’. It was a wonderful role to play, but a little disconcerting to feel so literally on my death bed!
Fascinating Fact Two
In 2002 I was interviewed by Jenni Murray on Woman’s Hour. I’d long been in awe of this legendary BBC presenter who pulls no punches, one of the reasons her interviews make compulsive listening. The subject of the interview, my memoir No Ordinary Child (Wild Goose), is a series of meditations as a Christian mother prompted by my middle son James having the courage to ‘come out’ as gay. James took part in the BBC interview with me. As a recent drama graduate from RSAMD (Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama) he carried it off with far more aplomb than I could muster.
Fascinating Fact Three
In the early 90’s, just before the country plunged into recession, I bought a shop premises in the Fife coastal town of Elie. For three years I ran an antiques/gift shop/tearoom. Elie in deepest February is like a scene from High Noon with only a few drifts of tumbleweed in sight. But I loved the stock buying at antique auctions and trade fairs, and discovered that no-one spends money like Glaswegian women on holiday in the heady tourist season.
My most popular sales line was papier mache geese (sounds unlikely I know), each with its name inscribed on its foot. My only survivor is Geraldine who moved with me to France and currently lives on top of my fridge.
Fascinating Fact Four
I relocated to SW France with my husband on a bit of a whim. My first ‘fascinating me’ experience in a foreign land was a tryst with our landlord at midnight at Montaubon station. He was travelling from Paris and would be carrying a vintage brown leather suitcase. Needless to say, he missed the train and finally appeared an hour later than arranged. Meanwhile I sat at Montaubon Station, deserted, apart from the guy with the dreadlocks and two Alsatians. However, nothing in a writer’s life is wasted and it emerged as a piece of life writing entitled ‘Briefcase Encounter’ which was a runner-up in the 2012 Society of Women Writers & Journalists competition.
Fascinating Fact Five
I love antiques. Usually I can’t afford them, but on one memorable visit I became a Lovejoy style divvy. A French family arrived at the Troc ahead of me with a trailer load of assorted stuff. An unframed oil painting caught my eye, a wistful looking little girl in 16th century garb holding a tiny bird. I haggled.
and bought it for what was then 180 francs (£18.00 equivalent). My girl had a certain presence so out of interest I had her valued by a local antique dealer who offered me 5000 francs. If it had been 50,000, I’d have been tempted. As it was, she became part of the family and recently moved with us to northern France. She also proved to be writing inspiration in the form of a short story with a magical realism twist, ‘A Family Matter’.
THE ANGELS OF THE JARDIN MASSEY also has a strong magical realism element. It can be bought from amazon here
Jackie’s website is http://www.jackieley.co.uk
Jackie is on Facebook here
Thank you so much for dropping by, Jackie. I have my copy of the Angels of the Jardin Massey tucked into my kindle and am looking forward to it.