Eleanor Smythe was born in the east end of London, however struggles to call it home as she moved away in her teens, and continued to live in many places around the UK. Raising a family to secondary school level she then went on to obtain a degree in Occupational Therapy. Although she took the opportunity to work in various medical settings her greatest passion was working with clients in the community, where she claims real life takes place.
Now retired and living in Portugal Eleanor has more time to pursue her love of writing. Always intrigued by the way in which individuals cope with life's challenges and how they overcome the twists and turns of life, her stories attempt to embrace inner emotional turmoil that her characters might feel. Her characters are brought to life by showing humour, tragedy, conflict and betrayal and emotions that many of us face daily.
Her debut book, The Other Side of Town is full such characters.
I am thankful to Nikki for inviting me to be a guest on her fantastic blog. Not being a great blogger myself I always welcome the opportunity to share my thoughts and processes with others.
I say processes because I feel writing is a process, a transformation of thoughts onto paper. Not only our own thoughts but the imaginary thoughts of our characters. As you would have seen from my author biography I can get quite caught up with the importance of sharing emotions, how people express their feelings and deal with situations. However in real life we can only know as much as we’re told or what we see. If someone smiles and says they’re fine, we have to trust that, even if we may think it to be insincere. People are often protective about the way they truly feel. Exposing ones emotions can be fearful, can bring about a sense of vulnerability and even insecurity, all of which are emotions in themselves, as is happiness – it’s all fleeting. Then we have the taboo subjects of death, grief, disability, sexuality and what’s politically correct in our current climate. Can we actually say what we feel, for fear we may upset somone even unintentionally?
When I write and I set out my characters, I love to imagine what kind of person they would be. Are they open? Do they tell all or are they closed off and secretive? I like to dig into their emotions and how they might deal with situations. I create situations for them to deal with and then I ask, would she or he do that, or say that? One reviewer thought my characters were depressing - well maybe that’s how she read them to be. I prefer to see them as strong and who come through difficult times with their heads held high, moving forward with life. Isn’t that what we have to do, if we’re to survive? Reality isn’t always happy and joyous, however we can have humour and strength even in the darkest of moments. My fictitious characters have fictitious scenarios to deal with but I aim to make it realistic to life. I don’t write a ‘sit on the edge of your seat’ thriller or horror and I’m yet to write with raunchy passion, but I hope my readers will enjoy the emotional roller coaster that my stories aim to give.
I once read, ‘write what you know’ it must have been a quote but couldn’t tell you who wrote it.
So am I qualified to talk about emotions with such passion? Now this gets personal, but as I’ve written with such conviction about emotion, it’s seems only fair that I open up a little. I was married very young to my first husband, it lasted all of 4 years and a few months. I was seventeen. I don’t recommend it - not the best decision I’ve ever made. I was married long enough to have 3 sons and obtain a divorce. Now I can see you’re all doing your maths. It was considered to be an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage, the fact that he used me as a punch bag didn’t actually matter at the time, it was the fact that there was no way back. I had to write my account of the marriage, convincing enough to prove the marriage was past being retrieved. I could see the judge’s face contort as he read my discription. I was pretty sure he smiled when he read the part that stated, ‘I picked up a frying pan and hit my husband over the head to free myself.’ Now that was the best short story I’d ever written. I know the judge thought so as he granted the divorce.
I later met my wonderful husband. We’ve been together 42 years and this coming January married for 40 years. He adopted the boys and we went on to have two children of our own, a little girl who died at the age of 3 months from cot death and our son who died two years ago at the age of 36. After our daughter died I read that 75% of marriages end after losing a child, because it is so stressful on the relationship, and it is, but we hung on in there.
I saw my work as a privilege. It enabled me to see deep into peoples lives, through assessment and the grace of people sharing their intimate details with me, all confidential and none of which I would use for the pleasure of writing. However I was always moved at the level of endurance people actually have, whether through physical or emotional disability. How resilient we can be never ceases to amaze me.
We have tipped the iceberg of emotion and I know that I’m not alone, everyone of us has suffering in some way. It’s not the suffering that drags us down but the way we choose to deal with it. For me, I have found creativity and escapisim in my writing, my garden and the people in my life. We are all qualified to write with emotion, I just choose to write emotional journeys about people who come out the other side.
My second book is currently with the editor. Reflections talks about a woman called Sally who has to deal with the grief of losing her father, whom she’d known for only two years before he died. After the funeral she takes time out to be alone and reflects on her life. She had to make amends with her estranged mother and half sisters, to find out who her father was. We read about the lives of her parents and why Sally had always felt abandoned. She also reflects on her recent divorce. Whilst this is happening a Mr Leriche from interpol opens an old case of a stolen painting and before long Sally finds herself in the middle of a criminal investigation and the sole beneficiary to her fathers estate, which she has to develop or walk away from. Like I say, not a ‘sit on the edge of your seat thriller’, but an emotional journey with a happy ending.
Please look out for the cover which is currently being created for Reflections.
The link for The Other Side of Town http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00V6R84IQ
Twitter user name @authoreleanor1
The Other Side of Town -Synopsis
Maureen and Karina had been friends since childhood. However, due to betrayal and grief their lives have taken on very different paths. The Other Side of Town tells the story of the two families, brought together by tragedy.
Maureen marries John Evans and they soon have their fair share of misfortune. An accident at work impacts on their lives, forcing them to sell their home and move into social housing and a completely different lifestyle. Maureen has to find work with a multinational IT company called Millbrooks. Tragedy finds them again and their lives become consumed with grief while trying to find justice. Amidst all this, Maureen befriends a woman called Judith and although she has a chequered past, Judith brings a sense of humour and friendship into their lives.
Karina marries Rupert Millbrook, whose family span generations and are so influential that the town is named after them. Karina soon discovers that once you marry a Millbrook, you marry the family and its history. Karina becomes Managing Director of Millbrook's IT and Maureen’s boss. However, Karina’s life is not without it’s own difficulties, she finds herself struggling with her teenage children and the issues they bring. Rupert also a Member of Parliament, has his own problems. A criminal investigation, lead by Inspector Hennessy who is on a special assignment from London, reveals links between Rupert's business deals and a known international criminal, Yakov Volkov.