Sunday, 18 March 2012

Author in the Headlights - Eileen Ramsay

Okay – about me. I grew up in Dumfriesshire and have been writing since I learned to write but it never occurred to me that writing could be a career. I was classed as ‘clever’ but told that meant that I could be a nurse or a teacher.  I didn’t want to be either but since I knew I could not possibly be a good nurse I went to teacher training college – and discovered that I liked children and teaching.  My first job was at a prestigious school in Washington DC and fifty years later I am still in touch with some of my pupils.  I took time off to work as social secretary to the wife of a senator who was a Presidential candidate, and I was married from their home.
My brand new husband had a job in California and I left the high life and moved west.  Ian encouraged me to finish my masters degree and he also suggested that I write for publication!  I did both.  My first publications were short stories in religious magazines.  As part of my degree I studied in Mexico and I took my two little boys with me and all three of us fell in love with the country and its peoples.
Returning to California I worked in Migrant Education which was so satisfying.
We returned to Scotland for family reasons and eventually I was able to write full time.
I am just about to put a heavily edited and, in places, rewritten early title on Kindle. A designer has made me an edgy concept cover that hints at the story rather than the usual “romantic” cover and I love it.

Who has influenced you the most?  It’s probably a ‘what’, Bex, but there have been wonderful people – the American family who ‘adopted’ me when I started work in the US just after graduation, my husband … the list goes on.

Which is your favourite book?

I have too many favourites; that’s one of the glories of the book.  I do know the first book to really make an impression – and this is not a sideways answer to your first question!!  I was sixteen and was sitting down in front of an electric fire to dry my very long hair. I reached across to a bookshelf and pulled off a thin paperback and began to read. I finished the book, Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. I was sixteen when I sat down but a hundred years old when I got up

What would you save in a fire?  Easy.  My laptop!.

Which film have you seen several times?  Beaches.

What in your life would you change?  I’d be serenity personified instead of a bag of neuroses.

What ambitions do you have? To grow glorious irises.


What's your favourite colour?  Depends on whether it’s a stained-glass window or a dress!

What temptations do you wish you could resist?  Icecream, Toblerone, old black and white films on television.

What, in others, makes you angry?  Half-truths, fanaticism.  The list is endless.


What is your philosophy on life?  The older I get the less I know, Bex, but one would be from an American Indian prayer I found in St Patrick's Cathedral, New York.  Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.  And secondly, to stay sane - take time every day to listen to Mozart. 


What is your philosophy on life?  I think one has to be capable of rational thought to have a philosophy, Bex, but possibly I would say that I try to treat everyone with respect – even politicians until they blow it!

What is your favourite song?  If an aria is a glorified song, it has to be Il Mio Tesoro, the sublime tenor aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. I heard the great Alfredo Kraus sing it in 1962 and suddenly the world was full of colour.

What is your favourite piece of music?  This changes with how I’m feeling. At this point it’s Andrew von Oyen playing the Liszt variations on Verdi’s Rigoletto

Which four people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to dinner?  Aung San Suu Kyi, who is just amazing, Daniel Barenboim, a great musician and humanitarian, Elizabeth Goudge because I’d like to tell her that I’ve loved every one of her books and George Clooney because he’s much more than a pretty face. I plan to sit quietly and look at him while I listen to the conversation.

Elizabeth Goudge
What do you regret from the past?  That I didn’t work harder at school. 

What is the thing that has made you happiest?  My family – and all its connections.

What would you want if you could choose anything?  To see my grandchildren grow up in a sane world.

Where is your favourite place in the world?  A tiny village in Tuscany.

Thank you, Eileen.

To find out more about Eileen and her books click here to visit her website.  Eileen's books are available from Amazon.




22 comments:

  1. Always interesting to find out what influences a writer. I hadn't known Eileen had such a history in the States and Mexico.

    Thanks
    Jan

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    1. Thanks, Jan. I knew about the States, but not Mexico.

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  2. Fascinating interview! That's such a varied life.

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    1. Thanks, Juliet. I agree, amazingly varied.

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  3. Great interview, Eileen. What I'd like to know is who that American presidential candidate was, but knowing that you are discretion itself I can probably wish for that until the cows come home!!
    Hx

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    1. Thanks, Henri. Me too, I want to know. Shall we kidnap her at the next RNA gathering she comes to? :-)

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  4. Hi Bex and Eileen. I really enjoyed the interview. So many RNA members are books on legs! Fascinating...

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    1. Thanks, Sandra, and I agree. The RNA is an entire section of autobiographies waiting to be written.

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  5. Great interview, Eileen. I'm still finding out things about you that I don't know - like the irises!

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  6. A wonderful interview and an interesting insight into your facinating life, Eileen! And having had the pleasure of your's and Ian's hospitality at home - I can confess to knowing exactly who the (successful!) US Presidential candidate was!

    Love, Janice xx

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    1. Thanks, Janice. Eileen is a fascinating person.
      I'm now twisting your arm - come on - who was it? :-)

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  7. That was lovely Eileen and Bex, and so interesting. I didn't know about the Mexican connection.

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    1. Thanks, Lesley. Mexico seems to have surprised a few readers.

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  8. Love the effect you describe of the first impressionable book of being a hundred when you finished. Resonates with me, Eileen. Thanks, Bex.

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  9. What a great interview, Eileen. Thank you - and Bex - for letting us share some insights into your life.

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  10. What a well travelled lady you are, Eileen!

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  11. Great interview, Eileen, and info for the rest of you - I know who the presidential candidate was, but if I told you I'd have to kill you. There is one thing I didn't know - Eileen, I would never have guessed you had a thing for George Clooney. I always thought your romantic inclinations veered more towards opera singers.

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  12. Although I think I know lots about Eileen, it's always a delight to find out more. This interview made me really smile. Thanks to both of you.

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