I'm really pleased to have Eleanor Stewart on the blog today. Eleanor's second book New Habits has just been published by Lion Hudson & Eleanor has kindly shared with me her thoughts about starting a new career as a writer and the types of books she likes to read.
Over to you Eleanor
It's a wonderfully exciting thing to start a new career at 70. Life is really one long adventure. I've been a nurse, a midwife, an undergraduate, a university lecturer, a wife and mother a grandmother. I have adopted children, nursed both my parents-in-law and my own mother in their last years, and been with them when they died peacefully in their beds surrounded by their loving family and it's all been a lovely privilege!
Now I am hesitantly, but thrillingly, a writer. I'd like to claim that I am very disciplined, that I throw myself out of bed at 6:00 am. throw on a track suit make coffee whilst the rest of the house sleeps around me and hammer away at the keyboard until lunch time, but I'm afraid I'm more of a"Oh dear is it 11.30 already ,I really must get to work; maybe I'll to the shops and then perhaps I'll pot up the fuchsia first," before finally getting to my computor! Speaking of which I enjoy gardening although in general I'm more of the hack and slash type.
I love cooking and entertaining. We have a big, comfortable shabby old house and my idea of a really happy time is to have as many friends and family around me as possible and feed them!
I think it is important as a writer to learn from other, better writers, so I am a voracious reader. My main objection to "Fifty Shades of Grey" was not it's erotic content but how badly it was written. Endless clichés and sentences without verbs are a real put off!
I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction, biography, history and even travel books. I think many modern novels are extraordinarily good and recently have enjoyed "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt, "Butcher's Crossing" and "Stoner" by John Williams. Other American writers I enjoy are Anne Patchett, and Jane Smiley the later with her modern take on King Lear was riveting. I enjoy anything by Doris Lessing. I thought "The Grass is Singing" an amazing book both for the superb quality of the writing and the development of the characters and heart-breaking denouement Hilary Mantel falls in the same category, although I take issue with her manipulation of the events and persons in her historical novels. I've just finished "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" by Richard Flanagan; a harrowing read but a tender and poetic account of terrible events.
In case anyone should think I am a really serious and profound person I take
light relief in Georgette Heyer and of course the delightful Miss Austen and on really lazy days the incomparable Spike Milligan!
For the future I believe I have more books in me and have just began a third one whether it gets to press is in the hands of the gods and my publisher of course.
About The Book
Kicking the Habit (published in June 2013) told the story of Eleanor Stewart’s decision at the age of 18 to become a nun, and her subsequent training and work as a nurse and midwife in 1960s Liverpool. It was during her time working at the hospital that Eleanor began to question her calling as a nun – torn between her love of the religious life and the hectic pace of the inner city hospital world, as well as her desire to become a mother herself. At the end of Kicking the Habit, after nearly 8 years as a nun, Eleanor left the convent to start a new life.
In New Habits, Eleanor finds herself in the middle of the swinging Sixties – and joins in with gusto! Her hospital career continues with the usual drama and excitement while, outside of work, boyfriends, parties and mini skirts take the place of silence and restraint. But amidst the carefree lifestyle, there are difficult times: Eleanor has a troubled relationship with her ‘needy’ mother and also struggles with her growing estrangement from her faith.
When she finally falls in love and wants to start a family, she receives the devastating news that she is infertile. With the support of her husband, she begins the battle for adoption. Will Eleanor’s dream of a happy family, which led her to leave the convent, ever come true?
About The Author
Eleanor Stewart worked as a State Registered Nurse and a State Certified Midwife in Liverpool. Following her nursing Career, she lectured in French at the University of Portsmouth. She lives in Portsmouth.