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12. Dec, 2020

Many people believe writing is only for authors, journalists, poets, bloggers etc., but it is there for all and if you suffer from a mental health issue, it can help. I have touched on my need for the therapeutic use of writing since I was around fifteen years old and most recently amplified this during the current coronavirus pandemic on local radio. I believe we all come into life as potential writers and, as that famous saying goes, everyone does have a book in them, even if it is just their own story. 


Writing is beneficial because it can be therapeutic. Writing can harness our thoughts and feelings and act as a filter for the parts inside our minds, which we may choose, or not,  to share and discuss. 

Most of us speak in jingles, not complete sentences. In conversation, we are often interrupted. Whilst writing, we can, through creativity and imagination, complete a sentence and ultimately a whole story or poem. You will feel a sense of achievement or self-satisfaction—something you may not realise in everyday life, for example. 

Writing is an escape from reality. It has many genres and styles and is *FREE*. 

You may not think you are a writer. Don’t worry. Practice! You don’t even need to share your writing. Write a letter to yourself. Invent a character. They will become your friend. 

By writing, you will discover your inner self. You will find yourself speaking through your written words via an alternative dimension. You will even become the protagonist in your own story. In a sense, you will discover who you really are. When writing, you will believe some other entity is controlling you. You will discover this is your sub-conscience, your creative soul inside you! 

You can choose your comfort zone. Explore the genres until you find the one you want. If you don’t have the confidence to speak out loud, either to just one person or a crowd, writing will give you the vehicle to move forward. You can become an expert on your chosen subject by writing non-fiction. You can become the master of an invention by choosing to become a fiction author, for instance. 

What you write will become your identity, especially if you decide to publish. It will give you self-esteem and give you a healthier mind, body and spirit connection. You will find yourself creating a strong relationship between your inner profile and your body’s outward movement.

We all have emotions; a large number of us suffer from mental health issues. There are fears and worries, even memories that cause, stress, anxiety and depression. Writing can steer us away from these and offer some much-needed respite from our day to day demons. 

Writing can be a career or just a part-time hobbyist occupation. It can be incredibly powerful when wishing to express yourself. Embrace it and remember, writing is therapy, and it could just save your life!

Did you know Mal runs a FREE low key ‘Writing as Therapy’ workshop? If you would like to learn more, send an email to admin@malfoster.co.uk

 

28. Nov, 2020

Anyone who has read 'Jude & Bliss' would have seen the reference in my author note to Emily Jane Popejoy, a young girl from Bagshot, Surrey who left her family home to take up a position in domestic service at a prestigious address in Victorian London.

I first became aware of Emily’s plight in 1994 when I visited the Surrey Heath Museum’s stand at the annual summer fayre in Bisley. The story somehow stuck and eventually proved to be the inspiration behind my latest novel.

Emily Jane, known locally as just Jane, was the sixth child of George Popejoy, a carpenter, and his wife Rose, of Jenkins Hill, Bagshot. Like many young girls across the country, on leaving school she went into domestic service, eventually taking a position with a Mrs Camilla Nicholls at 14 Pitt Street, Kensington in 1896.

It was clear I could never fully base my new book on Emily's 19th-century situation. The real facts were unclear and there were also the moral implications to consider. I had to respect her immediate family and their descendants, as well as her legacy which is now a strong part of Surrey folklore.

‘Jude & Bliss’ draws on the worst-case scenario, indeed, during my research, I discovered numerous young girls and women had suffered abuse and had even died at the hands of their employers. Fortunately, but far too late for some, government legislation was put in place just after the turn of the century to prevent further exploitation by those employing domestic servants. 'Jude & Bliss', is just one girl's tragic story. BUY NOW

As stated in the synopsis, ‘Jude & Bliss’, is NOT for the faint-hearted.

 

Pic: Emily Popejoy's grave & memorial at Bagshot Cemetery 

 

14. Oct, 2019

When I started writing ‘An Invisible Nemesis’ in July 2017, little did I know that three months into the process, a real life event would interrupt the project...

I had already decided to set my new conspiracy and murder thriller on the beautiful Maltese island of Gozo, a paradise I have visited frequently and somewhere I have always called my second home. The book tells the story of the calculated murder of a hard-nosed but much-loved investigative journalist called Suzanne Camilleri who was investigating a possible cover up involving the well documented death of Diana, Princess of Wales which had happened over twenty years earlier. The tale involves the Sicilian mafia and both the governments of the UK and Malta.

On Monday 16 October 2017 news came through that the popular but often controversial Maltese journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia had been assassinated in a car bomb attack near her home. Daphne was also a writer and anti-corruption activist who had reported on a number of political events in her own country. In particular, she focused on investigative reporting into government corruption, patronage, allegations of money laundering and much more.

For my part, it was time for a bit of soul-searching. Why had a real life event collided with my latest heady excursion into fiction? Indeed, like my key character in ‘An Invisible Nemesis’, Daphne had been killed just for doing her job, something which can never be acceptable. It's also worrying to think that according to recently released figures, ninety-five international journalists died in 2018 alone.

As an author of fiction and one with a conscience, I now had a dilemma. Should I shelve my new book or continue writing the story I had been harbouring for years? After all, there were so many parallels aligned with Daphne’s gruesome murder and a vital plot in my manuscript. It all felt more than just a coincidence. In the end I decided to bite the proverbial bullet, tread carefully and eventually publish. 

Today, the investigation into Daphne's murder continues but without much support from the Government of Malta, the same government that is unbelievably bringing at least forty-eight libel suits against Daphne two years after her death which in a way tells it own story. To date, three men have been arrested for her killing but the person said to have ordered it, mysteriously remains at large. A cover up? - A conspiracy? I tend to think so...  Daphne’s ultimate sacrifice for simply telling the truth must NOT be in vain.

You can find out more about Daphne’s life, her achievements and her untimely death @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daphne_Caruana_Galizia

 

UPDATE: 

On Thursday 5 December 2019, following the arrest of a prominent businessman for complicity for murder and suggestions that Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was implicated in a cover up, Simon Busuttil, opposition Leader, MEP and former leader of the country's PN Labour Party stated, “This is worse than a murder, worse than an assassination. It is STATE-SPONSORED TERRORISM where the organs of the state, directed from Castille, aided and abetted the killing of a journalist. Then, they left NO STONE UNTURNED to make sure that the whole thing was COVERED UP!”

 

 

2. Jun, 2019

My third novel ‘An Invisible Nemesis’ is out ... and what a ride! - I’m talking about the whole process from concept and writing the first page right through to publication itself. I started writing the book in July 2017 and already had the main character, Jack Compton on board. He featured in my previous novel ’Fly Back and Purify’, as a fledgling journalist harbouring a mental health condition. This was in 1994 when he was just twenty-eight-years old... Fast forward twenty-five years and now, he’s a seasoned freelance reporter in his fifties.

I finished writing the book in February this year but didn't have time to relax. Patience isn't one of my virtues and I wanted the book out by the summer. February was when the serious bit, the editing and proofreading process came into play. To say that it's an arduous and tricky part of the procedure is an understatement, but we authors always seem to get through it. 

Moving on, what to do with the book when published?  I purposely channelled the paperback version through just one distributor. This has enabled the book to chart. Indeed it made No.1 in Lulu.com’s Top 100 Mystery and Crime chart in its first week of publication and then hit No.1 in their ALL FICTION Top 100 table for May.  

What now? Well, there’s already been a very successful book launch and signing evening in my local pub and other similar events are being planned. Press Releases are going out, including to the Maltese press where the book is predominately set. I’m also looking at the possibility of launching a Facebook promo campaign with a similar event on Amazon.

People who know me will be aware I’m not in this for the money. UK publishers released more than twenty new titles every hour over the course of 2014, meaning that the country published more books per inhabitant than anywhere else in the world. UK publishers released 184,000 new and revised titles in 2013... If I manage to sell just 1,000 copies of any of my books then I consider that to be an achievement. Essentially, I write primarily for my own enjoyment and if just a few people enjoy my work along the way, then the whole journey through to publication and beyond is worth it!

The nucleus for the next novel (something completely different) is already swirling around in the grey matter!

 

16. Nov, 2018

Most books have a back story, or at least some of the sub-plots do. For me, my paranormal novel Fly Back and Purify is no exception. Pub landlady. Carol Baker, (pictured) formerly of the Royal Oak in Knaphill, Surrey is also a psychic medium and assisted me greatly with my research. The following is from a piece I did when working for the Woking News & Mail in 2016...

When most people walk into a public house and think of spirits, they are probably looking at the choice of whiskeys, rums or vodkas from the optics behind the bar. At the Royal Oak at the bottom of Anchor Hill in Knaphill, the term spirit can take on a whole new meaning as the pub’s landlady Carol Baker is also a psychic medium. Carol and her partner Mark McDermott have been running the pub since March 2015.

Carol told the News & Mail, “Many psychic mediums use a spirit guide to describe an entity that may be attempting to make contact with the living. With the help of a guide I can use my ‘third eye’ to see spirits, the images can then become full apparitions; they are vivid and appear very real.”

She describes clearly seeing a couple who were previous landlords at the pub, a priest, an old man who sits in the corner at the front by the window and two children in Victorian dress who play upstairs.

It is known that in 1851 the landlord was William Collyer who ran it with his wife Sarah. By 1891 the pub was being run by Alfred and Phoebe Brighton. From 1900 to 1935 the landlords were Joseph and Minnie Searle and Minnie took sole responsibility for the establishment’s liquor licence following Joseph’s death in December 1935. Joseph who was born in 1869 had also been a local dairyman. Could one of these couples still be living there in spirit? 

Indeed, the Royal Oak has a very rich history and dates back to the 17th Century. In the mid 19th Century Wesleyan Ministers formed a Sunday school which met there until the completion of the original Methodist church in Knaphill in 1867.

Carol says that she picked up her spirit guide, a young child called Emily when she worked at the White Horse pub in Steyning in West Sussex. Emily has stayed with her ever since. She believes that the girl had been murdered by a seven-foot tall poltergeist after hiding a wallet at the White Horse.

Carol added, “Whilst many people sense or feel the presence of a spirit, most will never see them. Communicating with the spirit world is a gift that I am blessed with and very happy to talk about. My ‘third eye’ is really my mind’s eye. Behind my physical eyes there is an intuitive eye and I am able to use this for soul to soul seeing and that’s how I can interact with my friendly spirits right here in the pub.”

Carol admits that most customers at the Royal Oak are totally oblivious to its ghostly occupants, however if anyone should ever sense or see something or are perhaps even sceptical about their existence, she will always be on hand to happily talk and explain the phenomenon from her point of view. 

Note: Carol has since left the Royal Oak and now runs a pub in Hampshire