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I first came into contact with Grace Black via her Flash Fiction site Three Line Thursday, one of a small group of flash sites to which I have started contributing in recent months and where I meet up with a community of incredibly talented writers who have been both supportive and welcoming. Three Line Thursday is the home of a number of amazing wordsmiths and poets, one of the most talented of which is Grace herself (read more about her at her own blog site Black Ink Pink Desk). She in turn has nominated me for the Liebster Award which is an opportunity for others to get to know a writer/blogger better. Not sure if I should thank her for that as I am a reluctant writer in this particular arena; however it's supposed to be good to step outside your comfort zone so here goes ...
The Rundown: ~ 11 random facts about me.
~ I’ll answer 11 questions provided by blackinkpinkdsk (Grace Black)
~ Then compose 11 new questions for the 3 other poor souls.
11 Steph Ellis Facts
1. Nobody ever calls me Stephanie, only my dad when I was younger and then I knew I was in trouble.
2. I grew up in a country pub that only sold cider. It was called .... The Cider House.
3. My favourite colour is purple.
4. I love Terry Pratchett because he gave DEATH a horse called Binky.
5. I once lived in the cottage of Mary Jones, the young girl who walked barefoot across the mountains in Wales to get a Welsh bible.
6. I've climbed Snowdon - the easy way.
7. Researching my family history has revealed ancestors from Plantaganet Kings, to William the Conqueror, Alfred the Great and the Vikings (just like thousands of others - guess we're all related).
8. The first book I remember buying was 101 Dalmations by Dodie Smith.
9. I started reading Charles Dickens at the age of 11 and never stopped.
10. I hate Daddy Long-Legs.
11. I prefer the stones of Avebury to Stonehenge.
Answers to Grace's Questions
1. Describe yourself as a genre of music and explain.
What a question to start on. I'm an avid metal fan, perhaps doom metal, if there's an element of fatalism there, then that's me. Not that I'm miserable, but I am pretty resigned to a lot of things! Fate, destiny, call it what you will, you've just got to get on with it. (I think that used to be called stoicism).
2. Would you rather read the same book, of your choosing, over and over for the rest of your life or an endless supply of books not chosen by you in a genre/subject matter you deplore? Explain.
I could not read the same book over and over again, even if I loved it. There's the old saying 'familiarity breeds contempt' and I'm sure that would happen and then I would have nothing to read. I'd rather live in hope of coming across something even in a genre/subject I deplore. I get withdrawal symptoms if I don't have a book waiting to be read.
3. Blue or Black ink and why?
Blue, it seems to make my handwriting look much neater. I think there's also an element of nostalgia as that was the colour I wrote in at school. These days everyone asks you to write in black ink. Black is the colour of formality or the exam scripts I scribe for the students I work with.
4. Name a book we must read and why?
If This is a Man by Primo Levi. A searing account of the author's time in Auschwitz. I have a copy on my shelves and I continually prompt my children to read it. We must all be aware and remember the inhumanity man can show to man and the words of those who suffered are more poignant than any written by a third party.
5. Which word or phrase do you most often overuse?
Saying 'yes'. So often I've agreed to something at previous work places because no one else would do it and this has led to stress and exhaustion. I have a terrible guilt complex about saying no, that feeling of letting people down. I would also add that 'sorry' comes in a close second, Brits apologise for anything at the drop of a hat.
6. When you look at a menu in a restaurant are you a skimmer or a peruser? Explain.
Skimmer. I don't bother with starters as otherwise I couldn't eat a main. I don't like fish or seafood so then that wipes out half the main courses. I do peruse the dessert menu though, the reading of that can be as much of an indulgence as the eating!
7. Would you rather ride every ride in an amusement park or none? Explain.
None. I intensely dislike theme parks. Not just being a coward on the rides - the teacups are my level of excitement (although I did try the Black Hole at Alton Towers years ago), but the constant noise and all those people - it gives me a headache. I'd rather find a quiet corner and watch family and friends have fun.
8. What’s the first thing you remember reading that changed the way you looked at writing and how did it change your views?
James Joyce Ulysses. Tried reading it more than once, could never finish it. After even reading part of it though, I wondered how on earth it got published. It appeared to break every rule in the book about grammar and structure and made me wonder about all I'd been taught in English re following rules. It showed me that you could subvert the accepted and still be successful.
9. Spring or Fall and why?
Spring. Everything seems brighter, fresher and makes me feel more energetic. (I do like the colours of autumn but that sense of the greyness of winter being round the corner is very depressing).
10. Write a flash piece about yourself in exactly 30 words including the title. (You’re welcome)
She had hit that point when the assuredness of maturity was supposed to remove doubt, uncertainty. But it eluded her, each day a challenge, each day not yet grown-up.
11. What was the hardest question to answer from this list and why?
The first one. Human nature is too broad to be specific, nobody should ever pigeon-hole themselves, - although we are all guilty of it as we try to fit in with others. It leaves so little room for manoeuvre plus you forget the effect of volatile female hormones!
11 Questions from Me
1. What is your favourite line from a poem? Explain.
2. To dunk or not to dunk that is the question. (Translation for non-Brits: what is your view on dunking biscuits in tea/coffee?)
3. What book would you have loved to write that has already been written and why?
4. If you were an insect, what would you be? Explain.
5. Where is your writing place?
6. Silence or music when you write? If music, what is your soundtrack?
7. How do you deal with rejection (of submissions)?
8. What is your favourite word and why?
9. Who is your literary hero (character or author)?
10. A magnetic storm hits earth and all computers are wiped. How would you cope?
11. Describe yourself in limerick form - one verse!
That was tough. I hate writing about myself so now I'm going to inflict the same suffering on others. The choice to answer is theirs alone. Difficult choosing 3 but I have decided to go for 3 of the #Flashdogs pack, writers who have created a fantastic anthology for charitable purposes (available here Flashdogs: An Anthology). They are: Natalie Bowers, Stella Turner, David Shakes.
A writer - I think that says it all.