Hi my name is Sally Cronin and I am writing this from my home in Madrid where I live with my husband. Before I was a writer, I was many other things to many other people . Now into my 60’s I am enjoying converting a lifetime of travel and meeting fascinating people into words in books, short stories and by blogging.
My relationship with books by other authors.
We moved around a great deal when I was a child with my father’s naval career and lived in some amazing countries such as Sri Lanka, Malta and South Africa. Luckily for me, my two elder sisters who were ten and eleven years older, let me trail behind them from the age of 18 months and when possible do whatever they did. Something that sometimes did not end well! However they were both avid readers and apart from wonderful bedtime stories they taught me my letters and by the time I went to school at age four I was hooked and raring to go.
Obviously my first books were the standard fare for that age group in the late 1950’s but I soon progressed to more advanced reading. I was eleven when I caught chicken pox and was confined to bed for ten days which gave me the opportunity to read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I will admit to not understanding large portions of the book but armed with a dictionary ,by the time my spots had disappeared ,my love of epic books and drama was intensified.
Unfortunately for me my library card restricted my reading to those books recommended for my age group. To circumnavigate this I used to purloin the book at the bottom of the pile of my father’s selection from the same library. He was a fan of Wilbur Smith, more about him later, and also rather more titillating offerings by such authors as Harold Robbins. I probably knew more about the shenanigans going on in Hollywood than was healthy for a twelve year old but what I did not understand was stored away for retrieval later. My father had a very simple method in place for his four books – he read the top one and then it got moved to the bottom of the pile in his bedside cabinet and he did not open the door again until it was time to deposit another. Timing was everything and it was imperative to ascertain if he was enjoying a book enough to finish it over a week or ten days to give me time to read and return my borrowed tome.
Two authors stand out from my teens. We lived in Cape Town for two years until 1965 and my passion for African history was ignited by my lessons at the local school. Understandably because of this my favourite author was Wilbur Smith and it was his Courtney novel ‘When the Lion Feeds’ that was my first ever book purchase. I have the entire collection and I have loved, laughed and cried with the Courtneys and the Ballantyne’s throughout their tumultuous histories. If I had to nominate my all time favourite it would be ‘Eagle in the Sky’ based in Israel and both exciting and heart wrenching. I must be honest and admit to some disappointment with Wilbur Smith’s novels set in the modern day but I would never desert him or his wonderful books.
Interestingly I have read most of his earlier books at least three times. In my teens, thirties and fifties. Because of my own life experiences I have got something different from them each time.
The second author that was a huge influence on me was Nevil Shute who had died at only 60 years old by the time I was ten years old. He wrote 24 books most of which I read over my teens and early twenties. Stand out for me were the prophetic ‘What Happened to the Corbetts‘ written in 1938 about a family escaping a war in their yacht in Southern England – ‘A Town Like Alice’ which was my all time favourite and ‘On the Beach’. The last two were made into films that I have watched many times.
I have a library of around 5000 books with many well thumbed thrillers, mysteries and epics deposited in charity shops as shelves overflowed. I however keep books I know I will read time and again including those by Jean M Auel, James A Michener, Jeffery Deaver, Mark Billingham, James Patterson, John Connolly and Lee Childs as I am a huge Jack Reacher fan.
So that is me as a reader and these authors are my role models. Certainly some books are now very dated but they took me on adventures around the world and back in time that made my life so much richer.
Now for me as a writer. Whilst I cannot remember a time when I did not have at least one book that I was reading on the go in the last fifty years or so, I really only pottered along with writing my own short stories and some poetry. I was busy earning a living and in the last few years of my career in particular I wrote a great many business documents and probably the most creative would have been the annual budgets!
In 1996 a move to Brussels with my husband’s job coincided with a necessity for me to take care of some health problems. During this period I wrote my first book ‘Size Matters – Especially when you weigh 330lb’. I studied nutrition and its effects on the human body to discover more about myself and my weight problems and this book described my journey and the programme I developed to lose 11 stone. We moved back to Ireland and I decided to try the conventional route with an agent. The book impressed a number of publishers but they felt that I was unknown and therefore it would be difficult to market. So I entered the self-publishing world in 2001 when it was still regarded by many of the old guard as ‘naff’ publishing. I did my own marketing, drawing on my experience from my advertising and corporate days and got a fair bit of publicity locally and nationally in the UK. The second edition was the first of my books that we published under Moyhill and I recently converted Size Matters to E-versions for a new audience.
I enjoy my non-fiction writing as it suits my down-to- earth approach to life and I tend to write as I speak – plainly. I do try to inject some humour but it can be a stretch when writing about the workings of the colon or the prostate! Health is one of my passions and to date I have written two more books in that genre – ‘Just Food for Health’ – A fully illustrated book about our bodies and the foods we need to be healthy which evolved over the four years that I ran a diet advisory centre in Ireland as a reference book for my clients. It then reached a wider audience in the UK but because of the length of the book and the number of illustrations it will probably stay in print only.
The third in the health series was the 2013 ‘Forget the Viagra… Pass me a Carrot’, a men’s health workshop manual. It was a working title until a couple of weeks before we published when Pfizer lost its patent for Viagra in 19 countries and for marketing purposes it was perfect. It was the first book that we brought out in both print and E-version. Although the book was aimed at men in their 50’s and over it seems to have found some favour with younger men who want to get a head start on staying healthy which I am delighted with.
My first dip into fiction resulted from a dinner party when I was recounting some of my experiences as a temp between jobs or as a second job. I had just moved over to Spain to join my husband who was working here and I decided to use the time until he took early retirement to write a novel. ‘Just an Odd Job Girl’ is about Imogen who has lost her husband and her home to a ‘fast tracker’ 20 years younger and follows her journey as she rediscovers her former glory and romance – some have described as funny and a bit like Bridget Jones Diary for the more mature woman and I will take any compliments that I can! That is out now in E-version as well as print.
We were blessed with the company of a bright and articulate rough collie called Sam for many years and he was such a character that I wanted to capture his essence in writing. ‘Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story’ was his autobiography, in his own words and originally was for all the friends that he made along his journey. Thankfully it has also appealed to dog lovers in general and that is now in E-versions too.
Other books available are Media Training – The Manual – building a relationship with local and national media based on my years on radio and Internet television. Just being released – Turning Back the Clock in July – E-version only – a guide to anti-aging from a physical, mental and emotional perspective and Flights of Fancy – anthology of my short stories and including a novella.
I write every day because I love it and need it. I find the concept of blogging wonderful. Whereas it might take months to get a book written, edited and published, blogging provides instant gratification. It is also a wonderful source of information and creativity and I thoroughly enjoy exploring and sharing the work of other bloggers.
As to the future I cannot imagine my life without books to read, mainly now on my Kobo . I certainly intend to continue writing until the end of my days and I have two or three new books in progress. I tend to write non-fiction in parallel with fiction and move between the two. I am currently working on a guide to caring for the elderly at home and a novel about a woman who takes her fate into her own hands.
Thanks for allowing me free rein to talk about myself and my love of books.
You will find me around the place.