We at J & J are very pleased to have an interview with L L Igenaj the author of Flight of the Boatmen.
Q. Thank you for dropping by to give this interview.
A. Well it’s a pleasure to be here ‘digitally’ at least!
Q. Firstly is your name pronounced ‘Ige –enaj’ or ‘Igg-enaj’?
A. It’s Ige-naj as in Eye. Eye on the world perhaps? But L. L. will do.
Q. OK then, can I start by asking what gave you the inspiration for your novel ‘Flight of the Boatmen’?
A. I saw a computer graphic on TV a few years ago about climate change and at its worst most of the country was flooded. The area near where I live has a very high hill and in the graphic it was left exposed. It’s a rough, pretty barren, gorse covered hill and I wondered what it would be like to be driven up there to exist when the rest of the country if not the world was covered in water. Then I wondered if it were just a few people or even one person what it would be like. That was the inspiration.
Q A pretty dismal premise for a book though, surviving in an apocalyptic world?
A. No, not at all. That’s the whole point of the book. Firstly it’s post-apocalyptic so all the really dreadful things have already happened. The story catches up a year or so into the main characters survival, survival against all the odds. It’s about the struggle in the face of adversity and above all about hope. Hope is the crux of the book.
Q. But without giving too much away there isn’t just one survivor is there?
A. No. An interaction between people is always better I think. I liked the idea of a strange little band of people, though not all are people actually. Think of Red Dwarf. There’s a human, a hologram, a robot and what’s basically a cat.
Q. But ‘Flight of the Boatmen’ isn’t comedic is it?
A. No. there are some comic moments but it’s a fairly serious yet human tale of survival.
Q. And speaking of survival you go into some detail about all kinds of things don’t you?
A. Yes I felt it was important to join them in their journey and learn something along the way as can the reader.
Q. And did you? Learn anything yourself?
A. Oh yes there’s always things to be learnt but a lot of the stuff I know about from life experience, things I am interested in or I gleaned from the knowledge of those around me. I did a lot of research on line too of course. And I relied on my imagination as well.
Q. Can you be more specific?
A. I don’t want to give too much away or say which direction the book goes in but there’s lots of stuff about traps, vermin, trying to grow food, making stuff. Some technological things too and a little maths and science. A little religion too. I don’t think you can escape that in a survival situation. The ‘is there or isn’t there?’ kind of thing.
Q. Quite a lot then!
A. Yes, makes me exhausted thinking about writing it now.
Q. And how long did it take you to write it?
A. Well it had been on my mind for a few years until the dialogue between these characters got so loud in my head I just had to write it.
Q. The dialogue?
A. Yes I would hear these conversations between the characters and have to write them down. Also scenes and whole chapters too. I wrote middle sections right at the start. Thank goodness for computers and being able to shift text around. Hats off to Dickens who wrote sequentially and had it printed a bit at a time. No chance to go back and edit then. So going back to your question it took about a year to write. One major re-write or rather addition of many chapters and then several times going over and over it.
Q. And lastly the title. You mentioned earlier that the book originally had another title.
A. Well yes it did. My other half read the manuscript and loved it but said the title rather gave it away, like an Agatha Christie book that’s title read: ‘The Butler did it.’ Not that it’s a ‘who done it,’ or anything like that I just mean the title was bit of a give-away. I liked the title of the book ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.’ That of course was really a book about the journey and not bikes. ‘Flight’ is about the journey too, the inner and the external journey of survival and just living. The current title is a little more straightforward maybe.
Q. Or maybe not. There are quite a few twists and turns aren’t there?
A There are but I’ll leave that for the reader to discover.
Q. A good place to leave it I think. Thank you very much for your time L L.
Flight of the Boatmen can be purchased at
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flight-Boatmen-1-L-Igenaj-ebook/dp/B017QDEA8G and amazon worldwide
A barrow full of broad beans ready for the freezer!
Like most of the country I was saddened to read of the death of Richard Briars this week. I watched ‘The Good Life’ not just with amusement but with a certain amount of empathy in the mid 1970’s because we were already living the life - or at least trying to! The Good Life aired from 1975 to 1978 but two years earlier than that my husband and I had bought our country cottage with a small amount of land and were trying our hand at - not self sufficiency (as we were both working) - but at least partially living off the land. Complete self sufficiency as the influential John Seymour stated in his popular book needs at least an acre and five acres for a family if you are going to keep a cow and other livestock. Along with our cats and a brief encounter with a dog, we only kept ducks and chickens, but we grew all our own vegetables and picked fruit from our trees, made jam and wine and even made hay - when the sun shone!
As it happened our neighbours who had escaped the London life to retire to the country were also ‘into’ self sufficiency and they kept rabbits - not as pets but for their meat. Trying to put aside any squeamishness, we swopped our eggs and sometimes vegetables for ‘bunny burgers.’ We watched with amusement as the Goods dug up their lawns to turn them into vegetable plots. We had done the same! Only a small handkerchief patch of grass edged with daffodils escaped at the front of the cottage, but even the chickens wandered there. We grew curly kale and cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, broad beans, potatoes, parsnips and marrows and according to the season we grew salad vegetables in abundance. Some vegetables we stored or froze and rarely did we need to visit a greengrocer. We got to know our enemies, of which there were many - greenfly and blackfly, carrotfly and aphids, pigeons and foxes, slugs and snails and dealt with them appropriately - apart from the fox who always outwitted us!
Of course just as the Goods had found in ‘The Good Life’ there were still bills to pay - rates, electricity, coal and all the other usual household bills. Chris, my husband worked as an Ordnance Surveyor and I worked as a draughtswoman for the local electricity board so we had money to pay for our bills and we were of course only partially living the dream of living off the land. We would have loved to have lived the life to the full but the conveyor belt of life seemed
to have other plans for us but I have nothing but admiration for those who did or still do manage to do so. As we sat by the Rayburn in our kitchen we watched Tom and Barbara’s antics usually with amusement and in agreement. Sometimes as old hands (as we then thought) we knew better, but usually we thought it hilarious that their script sometimes mirrored our own life. By the time the series finally ended in 1978 we had just sold our cottage and moved on to other things. The repeats continue to this day of course and are as watchable as when they were first shown. The programme gave self sufficiency and gardening a boost and by 1977 over 8,000 additional members had joined the National Allotment Society.
I look back to that period in our lives with great affection and I wrote about some aspects of our ‘good life’ in ‘The Ramblings of a Twenty Five Inch Man’ (the extraordinary exploits of an Ordnance Surveyor). If you would like to read about Houdini our amazing escaping chicken, McDuck the duckling we took camping to Scotland and lots of other hilarious tales then
take look at
As you may have read in my bio. I was employed in the newspaper industry for nearly
twenty five years and during that time I worked in virtually every department. It was extremely hard work but there were amusing moments too and I thought I would share some of those with you.
Typographical mistakes were fairly commonplace but ‘proofs’ were usually requested so that
mistakes were spotted in time. One I remember that luckily was corrected in time read:
Mr and Mrs Smith are pleased to announce the engagement of their lonely daughter
When I first started in a small regional office in Shropshire, typewriters were all that were used and the clatter from the editorial department as the articles were rattled off remains with me. Editorial clangers however were not usually funny and just resulted in legal action and printed apologies, but advertising mistakes were a different matter and usually had an element of humour in. I can assure you, you need one to work in newspapers!
Artwork for the advertisements were drawn up by ‘artists’ for the reps if they were lucky! More usually pictures from ready prepared books that were bought in were chosen. In one particular
book the original artist who had drawn up a gardening page, must have had a bad day as plastered all over the page of garden tools in all sizes of typeface was the word ‘Sod’ and 'Sod it!' over and over again! It was surprising that the page had slipped through the net!
As time went by and the industry evolved big, bulky computers were brought in. Not only could advertising space be booked for the planner but advertising reps could typeset smaller lineage adverts themselves. Time was always at a premium so shortcuts were used. For example the ‘alt’ key and other keys could be used that would automatically insert a few words that were regularly used such as ‘Tel:’ A death notice that had been typeset in this way was unfortunately not spotted until it was too late and printed. It read:
‘The burial of Mr Albert Jones, ‘taxed and MoT’d,’ took place last week.......
Needless to say there was hell to pay! Profuse apologies had to be made and the question was asked ‘How on earth could such a thing happen?’ Well actually it could and did happen all too often. The pace and pressure of a newspaper’s deadlines meant that sometimes it was a miracle that the paper was printed at all!
An ‘In memoriam’ advert that was misheard by a telesales girl went thus:
‘Mathews Reginald 20th December 19XX A beloved father, grandfather and uncle. Dearly loved, your presents particularly missed at this time of year.
It should of course have read ‘presence!’ This actually appeared in the paper and no doubt everyone thought he must have been a very generous relative to have!
An especially funny one that was actually printed by a rival newspaper group reported the cancellation of a race meeting:
The racecourse at xxxxxxxxxx was closed last Tuesday as the ground was too wet due to large amounts of sleet and snot falling!
The ‘w’ had of course been accidentally replaced by a ‘t’!
Estate agents copy was always particularly trying. Vast numbers of boxes with photos and text had to be collected (before deadline) and put together correctly with probably several proofs to’ing and fro’ing. This was always fraught and one rep who had obviously had enough of one particular estate agent messing her about sneaked in at the bottom of the page:
XXXXXXXX Estate Agents - down your street and up your back passage!
Spotted and deleted by the production department the rep was summarily dismissed with the estate agent in question none the wiser!
I have saved my favourite until last. Telesales sometimes took larger display adverts over the phone and this particular advert was quite large and for a pub. The story went that the landlord had wanted a really bold heading with the name of the pub at the top. The establishment was called The Tartan Toad which admittedly is an unusual name. The telesales girl had set the advert herself and duly complied with the request for a large header. When the paper came out the advert certainly stood out! There on the dining out page was written in extremely bold typeface:
The Tart and Toad! It makes a change from the Princess and the frog I suppose!
Ah, those were the days - or then again perhaps not!
All names have been changed apart from the last one!
So how is the Christmas card sending (and receiving) going? There is nothing nicer than a string of cards hung above the fireplace at Christmas with their festive pictures of snowmen, robins, Father Christmas and any number of seasonal scenes! Until a few years ago I would have sent most of my cards by post, now my card sending is split three ways. I personally hand out some or get them passed on, I send a few ecards (sometimes in addition to a sent one) and lastly I post a few. The cost of stamps (60 pence each or nearly a dollar to my N. American friends) is just too much to send out cards now en masse. And mentioning N. America, I cannot think why we don’t adopt their system of post being collected from home owners own post boxes. In many places in Canada, not only is mail delivered to homes but it is collected too, saving the effort of even leaving your own driveway and surely encouraging use of the mail system? What we need is more post (at a cheaper price) being sent not less and surely a system like this would encourage more of the smaller and simpler kinds of mail being sent.
But back to ‘e’ cards. I have paid an annual fee to an ecard supplier for the last five years or so (the number of cards you can send is unlimited) and it is worth its weight in gold - especially for those last minute forgotten birthdays. You can schedule the card to arrive whenever you want and if you are really organised (I’m not) you can do everyone’s birthday, anniversaries etc for the whole year! There are some really great interactive cards on line and the children really love them as do some of my more elderly relatives and I love choosing a nice Christmas scene with jingly music to accompany it.
Is it inappropriate to send ecards to some people? Yes, I think you have to gauge who to send
e cards to, it may seem a little too casual in some cases, but on the whole most people love an ecard. For your nearest and dearest though you can’t beat a handwritten card!
If you still have Christmas cards to post you had better get a move on though - the last date for first class is Thursday the 20th December. If you wanted to send surface mail to New Zealand, South Africa or Australia I’m afraid you have missed it - that was back on September 28th!
As for the ecard you can send that on Christmas Eve and still be in time for Christmas day.
We hope you like our card which is taken from 'Roley to the Rescue' coming next year.
So Happy Christmas to all of you, from all of us at J & J Gill Publishing
(Roley Moley included of course)!
Q. So what is it like to see your book roll off the press at the printers?
When we spent a day at the printers seeing the first edition of Roley Moley’s Christmas being printed I can tell you it was quite an experience to see the whole process take place! Having worked in the newspaper industry for twenty five years I was used to the sight of large volumes of papers roll off the press, but seeing your own story and illustrations being replicated thousands of times in front of your eyes is something else.
Five large Heidelberg presses each with a different colour plate (the first being black) print the page so that the image and text come together on the last press as the correct colour. There were a few waste pages that were discarded to begin with until the colour was running true to the originals and with no errors, but it was quite upsetting to see Roley in varying colours being scrumpled up into big scrap bins all ready for recycling. Our press operator was scrupulous in checking for quality, colour and errors but once we were happy with the large print pages that contained four of our ‘book’ size pages on one side of the paper, the press finally rolled them off.
Seeing the volume of paper that had been printed just for four pages of the book was quite a surprise and doing some maths in my head I was a little worried at the quantity being printed until I realised that of course the other side was to be printed on too!
Now if you are anything like me, just getting the other side of an A4 sheet photocopied correctly, can be confusing! A thirty two page book needs four large print sheets which has four ‘book’ pages each side. I was glad it wasn’t up to me to work out the logistics of what was to run where!
We left them to it while we checked off the front and back. There was an error! The ‘bleed’ size
was not big enough. This was the area around the edges which meant that there was no room for error when it was trimmed. We had to open up the Mac (‘we’ means Jonathan actually who’s the wiz with the technical stuff at J & J), readjust the size and copy over the file. Our graphic editor worked his technical magic and adjusted his pages. A new aluminium plate was made, the old plate was scrapped (for recycling again) and the process restarted. Finally we had the front and back covers and they looked great!
Initially we had deliberated over an inordinate number of colour combinations for the covers settling on green and blue. It looked good until we had the proof back. It was too dark! We lightened it but decided to start again with different combinations of colours. We were getting thoroughly confused until we suddenly hit on the right colours. The choice was obvious when we saw it. Different from the eBook the covers now looked just right for a print version and here it was in our hands. We then saw it being laminated so that it had a glossy and hardwearing cover (ideal for sticky little fingers). This process was like a huge roll of clingfilm being run over a heated roller so that it ‘glued’ to the cover. We saw other processes too on our visit. I always wondered how stitched books were put together and having seen the process I know now - big needles, large reels of thread and some clever machinery!
It was an interesting and exciting day and after a long journey Roley Moley had finally come to life! Our printers were extremely helpful and welcoming and we are all looking forward to seeing which Roley will 'roll' off the press next!.
You can now buy the print version for just £6.99 plus p&p by clicking on the paypal button on this site. (You don't need to have a Paypal account yourself to do this as we accept credit cards too). Happy reading and Merry Christmas from Roley Moley and J & J Publishing!
We are delighted to announce we are off to the printers for the first ever printing of Roley Moley's Christmas! With over twenty four illustrations (many of them new from the eBook) this wonderful children's story is bound to delight any child.
'On Christmas Eve Roley Moley is accidentally dug up with the Christmas tree and carried into the house. There he discovers all sorts of things including the biggest, roundest, tastiest molehill in the world - or is it?
Find out what else happens to Roley in his very special Christmas!
This is a beautiful large format (24 x 21 cms) book with a glossy cover and 32 pages.
Roley Moley's Christmas will be available for the first time ever next week as a printed version to purchase at £6.99 plus postage. We are in the process of setting up paypal (you don't need to have a paypal account to purchase) and the first 25 lucky people to leave their details on the contact form here wishing to pre-order and purchase the book will get a first edition signed copy.
Want a sneek preview?
So here is Roley Moley about to be dug up along with the Christmas tree and whisked into the house for the most exciting Christmas a mole has ever had!
If you want to discover what delights and disasters he encounters along the way please pre-order your copy today. Don't forget the first 25 to pre order will get their copy signed!
Roley 'emerges' from behind the tree!
A new version of 'Roley Moley's Christmas' will be published soon and as my previous blog on illustrating 'Roley Moley Goes in Search of the Moon' was so popular I thought I would share a few images of Roley coming to 'life'!
After doing some rough sketches I will come up with a picture I am happy with and start to do a proper drawing. This image shows the pencil outline and where I have started to ink in Roley.
Here is the picture now I have
penned the outlines and rubbed out the pencil.
Now I have started to colour and add
light and shade to the picture - oh and this is where I try to avoid dipping my paintbrush in the big mug of tea I always have at my side!
Here is the picture well on the way to being finished. Many times things go wrong though and I am not happy with the picture and have to start all over again!
This illustration shows Roley looking up as someone very special comes into the room.
I wonder who it could be? If you would like to find out click on the picture to get a
link to the current ebook.
But don't forget to look out for the new version this Christmas.
I didn’t really like you
But I’m sorry that you’re dead!
I saw you drifting in the bath
Just when I turned my head
I should have acted faster
And quickly scooped you out
But I really don’t like spiders
Of that there is no doubt
I felt a little guilty
As I saw you half afloat
A shame you didn’t use the sponge
As a kind of boat!
I tried resuscitation
Upon the window shelf
Amongst the pills and potions
And vitamins for health
I got some tissue paper
To get rid of the wet
I thought that if you made it
You’d make a creepy pet
But when I looked more closely
Of legs you had just seven
I knew then it was over
And you were on your way to heaven!
I didn’t really like you
And I’m sorry that you’re dead
But I’m sure you’ve lots of relatives
Hiding underneath my bed
(Oh and if you really dont like spiders a short story - among 5 - to really creep you out!
The vagaries of the English language
My little grandson started school yesterday and thankfully it all went well. In fact he so loved school he wants to go at weekends too! Long may it last! This September lots of other little ones have started on their journey to learn to read and write. My grandson has a great range of language for a four year old - partly because we believe in exposing him to all kinds of words, but understanding the spelling and pronunciation of English words for reading and writing will be another challenge entirely.
Try telling someone learning to spell that you spell a bow for your hair - BOW, but ‘toe’ which rhymes exactly with ‘bow’ with an ‘e’instead of a ‘w’. But ‘Bow’ although spelt the same can also be pronounced as in ‘take a bow’ the ‘o’ now making a different vowel sound as in ‘ow’ I’ve hurt myself! But what about the ‘bough’ of a tree then? The pronunciation is the same as in ‘take a bow’ but now has ‘ugh’ instead of ‘w’ at the end. This ‘ugh’when added to ‘to’ does not make the sound ‘tow’ as in ‘town’ but ‘tough’ as in‘huff’ - again spelt differently. ‘Cough’ you would therefore assume would be pronounced ‘Cuff’ going with the principles of ‘tough’ but no it is of course a chesty ‘cough’! So what about ‘dough’ which is pronounced neither as ‘bough’, ‘tough’ or ‘cough’ but has the same ‘ough’ spelling?
Oh dear! The so called ‘rules’ of the English language seem to be broken more times than not. There are thousands more examples of these ridiculous ‘rule breaking’ spellings which gets a little tedious to say the least but somehow or other we do all more or less manage to get there with the different spellings and pronunciations of our English language.
Maybe texting and other modern technological devices will change the way we spell in the future anyway. Language is always developing and altering. Even I use ‘c u later’ and ‘r u 2 ok?’ when texting, but that’s partly because I can’t get the hang of predictive text and have to resort to my own peculiar shorthand!
Luckily the first nights reading homework for my little grandson was about a cat and a little monster chasing a big monster and not too challenging for either of us! The challenge will come in later years and until then that can wait. For the moment I just hope he enjoys reading about monsters and cats even though I can’t quite figure why it’s not a Kat!
'Once in a Blue Moon' is of course the saying that means something happens rarely, but it's a Blue Moon on Friday!
It's very rare to see a moon that actually looks blue in the night sky (so Roley is lucky!) Atmospheric conditions could though make this happen. Ash from volcanoes or dust particles from large forest fires, water droplets or ice crystals sometimes give the moon a bluey grey appearance like a colour filter.
Friday's blue moon is termed as such because it is the second full moon in a month. There was one at the beginning of August as well. The next Blue Moon will not be for another year - 21st August 2013. But 2018 will be a very special year for blue moons as there will be two that year. In the meantime make the most of this Friday's Blue Moon.
And if you would like to see if Roley ever found the moon visit http://www.amazon.co.uk/beautifully-illustrated-childrens-picture-ebook/dp/B007KJDHOA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346233723&sr=8-1
Happy sky watching!