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An Interview with Author Lesley Howard

Howard

Author of Dark Cheshire, Lesley’s interest in folklore began during childhood in North Wales. Moving to Cheshire, her long, varied career has included being a professional photographer, makeup artist, vocational assessor, jewellery designer, and holistic therapist. Previously published in various specialist magazines, Lesley’s articles have also appeared in Evergreen and online for the Huffington Post.

Family research began as a hobby during the early 1990s. Creating a small book about her grandmother provided Lesley insight into her early life; born in 1907, she experienced both World Wars. This graduated into offering varied services including photo restoration, together with creating the Family History Album (FHA) software.

Experienced in the benefits of creative activities, Lesley is often out photographing and getting to know the fascinating micro-worlds of nature when not caring for her husband and soul mate.


Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I’m one of those people who had a deep need to write from an early age. During my teens, after going through a pretty traumatic time, poetry came naturally as a way of expressing thoughts and emotions. Writing verse is still a pleasure.

Family history has been so influential: there are many characters and events to stimulate the imagination. It also fires up my love of research and old books. Dr. Salter: Diary and Reminiscences by J O Thompson, published in 1933, gives an insight into the world of the gentleman-doctor during the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras, plus his love of the countryside and people who lived there. Sadly, a lot more of his diary entries were lost in the bombing of London during WW2. These would have been a delight to read.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2017 was the main inspiration for undertaking a countryside memoir. Strangely, having a neurological condition for which there is no cure as of yet focused my mind, making me realize that if I was going to achieve the goal of being an author, then it was now or never. A love of being with nature became a necessity—a perfect way to combine exercise with stimulating the grey cells at the same time.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I wouldn’t say choosing the title was an easy process. There was so much time spent pondering on whether to have a punchy title or something more thoughtful. The decision was eventually made during the final draft to opt for the latter. The title Whispers on the Wind has that essence of duality, indicating both my own questions and the prospect of nature gradually providing answers.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

In a way I found this the most difficult question to answer. “The Shire” (Lord of the Rings) would be a definite. There would also be a place for “I Can See Clearly Now” (Johnny Nash) and “I Have A Dream” (Abba).

Describe your dream book cover.

The basic colours being blues and greens: artwork with a fantasy element. A partial trunk of a tree on one side forming a curve, as though a portal opening into a glade, where a brightly coloured dragonfly soars over the top of the title and the hint of mystical mushrooms can be seen below.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have been a photographer, makeup artist, holistic therapist, jewellery designer, and tutor.

Organising events was nerve-racking, especially the bead and jewellery fairs at Chester Racecourse. Much more so than creating bespoke cakes—the weirdest request being an orange octopus climbing onto a Romanesque building.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

The poetic works and humorous poems of Thomas Hood are books which I turn to currently for relaxation, plus the odd mystery novel. For research, reading has tended to be more non-fiction, including those about fungi and insects. Though one of my favourites, and definitely the most useful, is Mastering Suspense, Structure & Plot by Jane K. Cleland.

Out of the countryside memoirs researched, I particularly enjoyed Meadowland by John Lewis Stempel, which was like finding that missing piece to a jigsaw puzzle.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

Not necessarily someone who has similar neurological issues, but those who are willing to look for the many healing qualities that nature provides—to soothe and comfort. There is also such a wealth of stimulation within these micro-worlds, so my hope is that my enthusiasm comes through and encourages readers to find similar benefits to myself.


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