Ready To Jack Up The 80s

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It is that time of year when I start to get overly excited as I pack my suitcase, ready to head off Solent bound. Yes, I am happy to say that Jack Up The 80s is now only days away.

This year’s line up includes Nik Kershaw, Jason Donovan, Alexander O’Neal, The Fizz (Formerly Bucks Fizz) and JUT80s favourites, From The Jam, who gave an incredible performance last year. I can’t wait!

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As well as some great acts, the festival will also have an array of fantastic stalls, offering everything from food and fun to memorabilia and music.

For lovers of vinyl (the best way to listen to music) The Vinyl Countdown is a stall not to be missed. Not only will there be plenty of plastic for festival goers to choose from on the stall, but there will also be the opportunity to purchase my books at the stall, as the lovely Adam has agreed to sell them for me while I’m busy photographing and interviewing artists. badgesWe all like a freebie, so there will also be free 1″ badges, featuring designs from my book covers, for everyone buying a book or vinyl from The Vinyl Countdown. Well, until we run out of badges that is, so be quick!

I look forward to seeing all my fellow fans of the Eighties next weekend – come and say hello when you see me.

 

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Books, Beaulieu and Bargains

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Tomorrow I will be signing copies of all my titles at Quizfest in Beaulieu, and the good news for everyone attending is that all of my books on sale there will be available at prices lower than their online price. Those who cannot make the event can still pick up a bargain though, as all my titles published by Fabrian Books (the Eighties trilogy) have offers running on their Kindle versions this weekend at Amazon.

Happy reading!

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Book Signing In Beautiful Beaulieu

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With just over two weeks to go until Quizfest, I am beginning to get more than a little excited. Not only will I be signing copies of all my titles at the event, but I will be stationed on a stall in the Domus Hall, alongside the legendary DJ and presenter David Hamilton. I was told that we will be in a section dedicated to pop culture, but I can’t help wondering whether I’ve been put there to make ‘Diddy’ look taller! Quizfest

Joking aside, it promises to be a fantastic day with book signings, ‘Meet the Stars’ from 2 – 4.30pm, and a quiz in the evening hosted by Christopher Biggins, all set in the beautiful grounds of Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum. I am hoping I’ll have time to have a look at some of the amazing cars housed in the museum too.

So, if you fancy pitting your wits against an Egghead or a Chaser, grabbing a new (signed) book or just coming to meet some of the many familiar faces who will be milling around, then Saturday 29th July is the day to put in your diaries. I look forward to seeing you there.

A Site For Sore Eyes

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Following a re-design of my website, its address has changed to my-eighties.com. I would love to know what your thoughts are on the new site, so have a browse and let me know what you think. On the News & Events page, the eagle-eyed amongst you will be able to spot me in Jo Monck’s photograph, taken on stage during From The Jam’s performance at last year’s Jack Up The 80s festival. Continuing in an 80s- style ‘Where’s Wally?’ theme, Forgotten 80s types might also recognise a member of the Twitterati mingling with Jona Lewie and Department S,  if they scroll down the Bio page. I look forward to receiving your feedback.

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January Birthday Blues

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This coming Saturday, I will be out with friends celebrating my birthday. As anyone with a January birthday will tell you, it’s not the best time of the year to have been born. The combination of over-indulgence  and over-spending during the festive period, along with the grey gloom  a lot of people associate with January, can make prising friends away from the snug comfort of their sofas an uphill struggle. Then, there is always the possibility of snow to consider.

The first time I can remember the weather having any bearing on my birthday was in 1982, when I turned 11. At the time, we lived in remote countryside where we were at the mercy of snow ploughs, to keep us from being cut off from the rest of the world. Having been ‘snowed in’ for several days before my birthday, there was uncertainty as to whether my birthday party would take place. However, unlike today’s kids who have no obligation to attend school at the first dusting of the white stuff, mine is generation who sat in freezing cold classrooms, wearing layer upon layer of clothing under their parka snorkel coats. It is therefore unsurprising that, despite the snow plough having created 7ft high walls of snow either side of the country lane leading to our house, and the roads being precariously icy, the party went ahead with its full guest list in attendance.

We were living in the Kentish market town of Faversham when the winter weather did threaten to spoil my birthday, in 1987. At the time, my dad worked about 25 miles away in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey, which was joined to the mainland by a vertical-lift bridge.Although there was snow on the ground, and it had been snowing when he left for work at 6am, Dad had driven to work as usual. An hour later, I got up and listened to the radio to see if my school was open. It wasn’t. Although I was disappointed at not seeing my friends on my birthday (and receiving my cards and presents!), I had a great time sledging in the nearby park with my mum and brother. However, by mid-afternoon it had begun to snow heavily, so we headed home.

Back indoors, we watched the snow come down hard and fast, but I was still surprised when Dad ‘phoned to say it was unlikely he would make it home that night. All the vehicles in the car park of the steel mill where he worked were buried in deep snow, and there was no public transport running off the island.

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I was upset at not seeing my dad on my birthday, and spent the rest of the evening fairly subdued. That was until some idiot threw a snowball at our living room window just before the Ten O’Clock News started. I ran to the front door, ready to vent my growing frustration on whoever had just thrown the icy missile, and then got the best surprise when I opened the door – Dad waiting to come in!

Settling down with a cup of tea and a slice of birthday cake, Dad explained how he had decided to set off on foot, hoping that he would be able to find transport home once he was back on the mainland. Having walked three miles in deep snow, he heard an off-road vehicle behind him as he approached the island town of Queenborough. The driver stopped and gave Dad a lift home which, seeing as they passed no other vehicles travelling in Sheppey, was something of a miracle. At least that’s how his company magazine reported it later that month, when they told how one of their employees had managed to “arrive home in time for his little girl’s birthday” despite the treacherous weather conditions. They must have thought I was 6, not 16.

As the years have gone by, the weather has tended to be kinder on my big day and, when it hasn’t, sheer determination to celebrate my birthday has seen me doing so no matter what. Although one year that did see me in an almost empty nightclub partying with a handful of like-minded people, foolish enough to brave the blizzards in pursuit of a few hours on the dancefloor. Nowadays, I’m not quite so foolhardy, and can be almost reticent when it comes to planning my birthday celebrations, lest bad weather stops play. However, with no Arctic weather forecast for this weekend, I am hopeful that this year’s birthday celebrations will go ahead unhindered. If, by some twist if fate, we are hit by a freak snowstorm I shall have to resort to Plan B – an evening in with a bottle of pink Möet, singing along to a certain Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin number!

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To celebrate my birthday weekend, my first book ‘My Eighties’ will be available on Kindle for FREE 15th – 17th January.

That Friday Feeling

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Some days stay etched in your memory for all the right reasons. Yesterday was one of those days for me. What started off as an ordinary day turned out to be one of life’s highlights, when I discovered that ‘My Eighties’ had gone to Number 1 in both its category listings on Amazon 061115 BiogAmazon.

Having announced my good news on social media, the amazing responses I received from well-wishers, have been truly overwhelming – thank you.

My unexpected chart-topping coincided with a further announcement later that day. I had been asked by the Canterbury Times to write a weekly 80s-themed column. Yesterday afternoon saw my first piece go live online, which you can read here. Talk about having that Friday Feeling!

Today, I feel a bit like a child on Christmas evening, as I eagerly await tomorrow’s cover reveal for ‘Your Eighties’. Only one more sleep…

All Will Be Revealed…

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The past two weeks have been busy for me. As the publication date of ‘Your Eighties’ draws ever closer, I have found myself juggling a number of tasks with non-negotiable deadlines. Yesterday, all that time spent tweaking text, stressing over outcomes, and generally having a nervous breakdown every other day were blown into oblivion when I received my proof copy. Like the pain of childbirth disappearing as soon as a mother holds her baby, the hours I spent locked away from the outside world, in a blur of words, swearing under my breath (and more often out loud), faded to a distant memory as I held the fruits of my labour in my hands.

This Sunday (8th November), you will be able to see one of the reasons why I was so excited, when the book’s cover is revealed. ‘Your Eighties‘ will also be available for pre-order from Sunday, prior to its publication on Saturday 28th November. I eagerly await publication day as it is also when my book launch party will be held. With live music from Kent-based Ska band Skatacus, and an 80’s disco with none other than Erkan Mustafa (Grange Hill’s Roland Browning) on the decks, it promises to be a fantastic evening. It will also give me the chance to meet Natalie Owen, the talented designer of the book’s cover, and to catch up with neglected friends and family, who have commented on more than one occasion that they “need an appointment just to speak” to me!

One enjoyable aspect of my hectic schedule this week has been my interview with the Write Romantics. Last year, I contributed a short story to their anthology of Winter Fiction, published to raise funds for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Teenage Cancer Trust. This week, the Write Romantics invited me to talk about ‘Your Eighties’, and they are due to publish the interview on their blog this Saturday (7th November). They have the ability to tease out previously unrevealed disclosures from me, so I will be reading it with some trepidation! Let me know your thoughts…

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P.S. The Kindle version of ‘My Eighties’ is currently FREE on Amazon until ‘Your Eighties’ cover reveal on Sunday.