The Tree of the Year – and me

My very favourite tree – the magnificent Allerton Oak in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park – has been named England’s Tree of the Year, and will be in the running for Europe’s tree of the year in 2020. That oak has seen some action, dating back to before the Norman Conquest in 1066, so is older than the city that surrounds it.

In 2008 I chose the Oak as my favourite spot to be photographed by Dan Kenyon, for his book ‘Liverpool Sung & Unsung’ – portraits of assorted scoundrels and heroes of the city for its year as European Capital of Culture. Fun, isn’t it?

Woman in silk stole standing by ancient oak tree
A 2008 moment by the 1,000-year old Allerton Oak

 

It’s out – and proud

A Stake in Transylvania – the English edition of my book first published in Romanian translation (Din Liverpool în Carpati) – is now published, at long last.

British Ambassador Andrew Noble, Bucharest, Romania, Arabella McIntyre-Brown, A Stake in Transylvania, book launch
British Ambassador Andrew Noble and author Arabella McIntyre-Brown at the book launch on 26th September

The book was launched with a reception at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Bucharest, where the guests from business, the book world, the British community and friends heard Ambassador Andrew Noble extol the book as a paean to rural Transylvania that will play a part in lifting the reputation of the area and attracting more visitors.

But what intrigued him about the book was – woven into the colourful stories of life in a mountain village – the candid discussion of mental illness, ageing, and living alone. The challenges are all too common, but not much shared.

In response to readers’ comments that the book reveals very personal details that seemed quite shocking, I told the guests: “Menopause, bereavement, getting older – they’re part of every woman’s life; it’s not our fault, there’s nothing we can do stop the process – why shouldn’t we talk about them?”

In her report of the event, well-known Bucharest journalist Alison Mutler said: “The 330-page read is a fascinating and honest study of her own state of mind, the seasons, animals (both pets and wild creatures), fences, making hay and naturally the locals and other folk she encounters. Arabella read out loud an excerpt about sheep wandering into her garden and home which delighted and amused the British and Romanian audience at Thursday’s reception.”

Mr Noble believes the book will become a bestseller. “Move over Peter Mayle,” he said, referring to the British writer who wrote “A Year in Provence” in 1990 which became an international bestseller and was made into a TV series.

I’m very grateful to the Ambassador and Mrs Noble for launching the book with such élan, and to the guests for braving filthy weather and Bucharest traffic that was worse than usual.

More about the book, and where to buy it here.

 

Romania at the London Book Fair

I’ve just found this video from the Romanian Cultural Institute’s event at the 2018 London Book Fair. I was very much the easy-reading grit in the academic literary oyster… My bit starts 1 hr 11 mins in.

panel at Waterstones April 2019

By bat or magic carpet

Another jolly interview, thanks to Transylvania Beyond – lots of photos in this one.

Transylvania Beyond headline & intro

Candour or caution?

RJ headline & pic

Thanks to the Romania Journal for some keen questions in yesterday’s interview. I opted to be candid, since cautious answers make for an anodyne read…

What do you think – should I have responded more neutrally?

What a day! Bookfest 2019

On the first day of Bookfest 2019 in Bucharest, I had an audience to talk about my book A Stake in Transylvania. This is how much I enjoyed it.

Abbs at BOOKFEST

Thanks to Bookfest’s clever photographer…

And at the very end of the day, as a very unexpected bonus, the British Ambassador introduced me to one Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania. And to my great surprise, he recognised me… “Is it possible that I’ve seen you in a documentary?” he asked. “It’s possible,” I replied. Here’s the evidence (the Prez is the tallest in the line-up)

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Marketing myths for the debut author

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Your first book is published. Fame at last! Followed swiftly by fortune, one hopes. But will your publisher help you along the way to fame? Unlikely, unless you’re already famous. This article outlines the truth of book marketing for unknown authors, but be prepared for unvarnished truth you might find deeply depressing.

All that effort to get the book written, perfected, and published… and the copies sit on the warehouse shelves waiting for the news to get out. Book signings, lit festivals, blog tours, press releases, book trailers, social media campaigns, celeb endorsements, reviews… the publisher’s job, yes?

No. For an unknown first-timer, no. Publishers’ marketing budgets go on big name authors, not newbies. A hard fact of the writing life.

But…  [read more]

Digi24 comes to tea

Beautiful TV presenter Ioana Mihalca and her expert crew came to see me in Magura last month, and made a charming 8-minute film from their afternoon’s visit. They also talked to my neighbour Roxana, and my friends from Zarnesti, Dan and Luminita Marin.

The resulting film was broadcast on the show Bonton at the end of November.

What do you think?

 

Help me save a dog for Christmas!

Floss cover 2I’m donating royalties from my new book, Floss the lost puppy, to two fabulous animal charities here in Romania.

Every book you buy will help save a dog (or a cat) that is homeless, sick or injured.

Romania Animal Rescue is an amazing group of vets at the Centre of Hope in Bucharest – see what they do every day to save dogs and cats.

Eli Pet Transport is a Romanian-British charity that rescues dogs from all over Romania, socialises them till they’re ready for a new home, then takes them to the UK to their new families.

All the people involved are stellar human beings who have devoted their lives, their homes, their careers to the welfare of cats and dogs.

If you love animals, buy a book, donate direct to their websites, spread the word about what they do, teach kids about the value of pets and how to care for them – help in any way you can…

Thank you!!!

PS: You can find out more about Floss on his website, and read reviews of the book here.

‘Gem-like story contains vital lesson’

Iulia Benze sent us a wonderful review. Obviously a great dog lover, Iulia sees the book as a way of teaching a vital lesson: why compassion and care for animals is important. 

“I believe Floss The Lost Puppy is extremely practical and it should be the beginning of a series which humanizes stray animals, creating heartfelt stories, educating people to be more compassionate towards nature and fellow creatures sharing their environment.

“Overwhelmingly the book brought back memories of animals in distress. I read it on a stormy dark Sunday morning and after that I immediately went out and started searching for homeless dogs to feed and to soothe. I found 5, managed to help 3 – the ones who didn’t run away from me.”

But Iulia also remarked on the emotional journey that the heroine goes through.

“I loved her journey in that magical rural mountainous place: from being afraid of dogs to absolutely loving them. She became a brave little girl, sacrificing her own comfort and selfishness. I think it is a very important lesson to learn: generosity, friendship and conquering your fear. This story contains a deep challenging lesson, making the narration not only for children, but also for adults.”