We Are a Muse

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Robert Graves

All my life I’ve enjoyed being around creative people. Regardless of how they express themselves, something inside me comes alive when I’m in the company of writers, artists, musicians, dancers, actors and the like. They make me want to burst and express myself in a new way. They make me feel most alive.

My mum was at Oxford with Lucia Graves. A writer and creative in her own right, she is also the daughter of World War I poet Robert Graves, who is best known for writing I Claudius. During a number of summers we would go out to Deià, Majorca, and stay with the family. Robert was a magnate for creative people. Across the road from the houses, amongst the terraced olive groves and the sheep and goats with the clanging bells, he built a small amphitheatre. It was here that he would perform his poems. It was also the venue for plays put on by members of the Royal Shakespeare Company who happened to be spending the summer there. I will always remember the night I did the thunder sheet for the Tempest.

Then there were the dinners on the terrace, the chatter, the laughter, the candles flickering in the evening light. After clearing the table one night a dancer from the Royal Ballet taught us how to jump and spin our way across the flagstones.

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The Royal Ballet

Towards the end of his life Robert was sadly struck with Alzheimer’s, a particularly cruel illness for such a great mind. As I sat next to him one evening as the adults were in the kitchen washing up he gently lifted his hand and put it in the pocket of my big baggy dress. It was as if he had taken my hand and we sat there, an old, drooling man in a wheelchair, a young girl of nine full of hope for the future. This was communication on a level way beyond words.

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Terrace at Sunset

His wife came out to wipe down the table. She stopped and smiled and said, “if he’d been able, he would have written a poem about you.” Then she stopped some more and considered. “Wait, what I see before me right now is poetry.” That moment changed my life. It made me look at the world in a completely new way, and in that second I decided I wanted to be a writer.

I still surround myself with creative people. I go to concerts and hear incredible music, attend plays, visit galleries, read great books. All of these things and all of these people, along with fantastic sunsets, laughing children, and the moments like that on the terrace in Deià touch my soul, pump my heart, and revitalise my mind. These are my muses, what are your’s?

The Liv Interviews: Derek Weisman

Fireside Chats With New Writers

the-badlands-sagaLiv: This month’s Liv Interviews is with author Derek Weisman. Hello Derek, welcome. Tell the readers a bit about yourself. How long have you been writing?

Derek: Thanks Liv, good to be here. I started writing when I was about fourteen. I had just read The Stand by Stephen King and thought the ending was lame. It made me want to write a book of my own, so I started writing. I have Aspergers which I found particularly difficult to cope with during my teens. I learned to channel this into my writing and now see it as an asset. I always have plenty of things to write about.

Liv: That’s amazing Derek. So did you go straight into writing a novel or did you try other things like poetry and short stories first?

Derek: I wrote one and a half novels when I was fourteen. Looking back at the writing it makes my eyes bleed: bad grammar, bad plot, bad characterisation. It was worse than 50 Shades of Grey! [laughs]

Liv: [laughing] I think we’ve all got those first attempts lying in a drawer somewhere. So where did you come up with your idea for your debut novel, The Badlands Saga?

Derek: I screwed up with a good friend of mine. She had this smile that turned anything to gold. One time she shaved her head and it made her look like a Neo-Nazi. I was devastated beyond belief. “Why would you shave your head?” I thought to myself. Yet her perky attitude and positive outlook made me look past her shaved head, beyond her outward appearance to something deeper. So much so that one day I kissed her on the cheek! She is the inspiration for my leading character in Badlands.

Liv: Sounds like an amazing girl and a strong character for your book. So can you tell us more about it?

Derek: It’s about a princess trying to save her kingdom from a cancerous virus. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the character better as I’ve written it.

Liv: Sounds fascinating. Which publishing route did you go down?

derek-weismanDerek: I self-published on Amazon. It would have a been a difficult process for me to go down finding a traditional publisher. The important thing for me was to show people that anyone can publish a novel. If I can, others can certainly do it.

Liv: That’s fantastic. What an achievement! Do you have anything new in the pipeline?

Derek: I do. I’m working on a story about a wizard who is trying to solve a murder but ends up revealing a conspiracy. It’s about the detoxification of body, mind and soul.

Liv: I can’t wait to read it! You’ll have to come back and visit us when it’s published. That’s about all we’ve got time for today. Derek, thank you for taking the time to visit us.

Derek: Thank you Liv. It’s been a real pleasure.

The Badlands Saga is available on both Kindle and paperback through Amazon today.

Click here to buy now.