The Summer Silence is over: I’m back! And I’m back with a bang: welcome to the latest edition of CentreStage.
CentreStage features fantastic authors from around the world. On CentreStage, these authors might write for you about their lives, or their writing journey, or anything else that matters to them. Every feature will be different in format and flavour, so watch out for a variety of stories and tales.
Today, it is my great pleasure to bring you a fellow lovehappyending.com author, Carol E Wyer.
Welcome, Carol! It’s so lovely that you could visit here today. Let me ask you first of all… what’s your background? Did you always want to be a writer?
Although I only began writing full time two years ago, I have written for a long time. For many years I wrote short stories for children, none of which I took to press but which I read to my son or his friends when they were little.
For some time I ran a language company and at that time I progressed to writing stories that were educational. I wrote a series of books, highly illustrated by a good friend that were set in France and which, through the use of animal characters, taught basic French to children. I took the books into local schools where they were used as part of a curriculum to teach French to young children and were very much enjoyed.
That’s amazing, I’m going to have to look out for those: what a wonderful idea. But this love for writing… does it maybe echo a love for reading, too?
Writing has always been a pleasure for me. It is on a par with reading which I absolutely love. Being a speed reader I can race through books at a terrific speed (if only I could type that quickly) and I love all genres. Reading allows you to have ‘time out’ for you. It allows you escape from your world for a while. Sometimes I enjoy being transported to an earlier time, or abroad. Other times I’ll get to grips with a mystery and quite often I just want to read something light and cheerful that leaves me with a feel good factor.
Having been asked the question a few times now and having given different answers depending on my mood, I sat back and worked out just what is my favourite book of all time. That is such a difficult question when I consider the number and variety of books I have read over the years. Being bed-bound for some considerable time in my youth meant I had read the entire contents of the local library from Enid Blyton through to Dennis Wheatley and Charles Dickens by the time I was eighteen.
Oooooh, a fellow kindred spirit! I can totally relate to your love for anything Enid Blyton and I am with you all the way. On Dickens, too. Great choices! But I gather there is one book, one author in particular who struck a note with you… and an unusual one at that?
Yes, indeed! I have, always loved humorous novels and enjoy Ben Elton’s novels or anything that is dry and amusing. But I suppose I have been most influenced by a novel I read at University: Candide by Voltaire. It is not the sort of book you would pick up in a bookshop and think what a great book –I’ll get this for my trip to Ibiza but it is undoubtedly the book that has influenced my approach to life and my writing.
Go on, tell us more!
Published way back in 1759 it is a French satire about a naive young man who lives in a sort of paradise at Chateau Thunder-Ten-Tronckh. The illegitimate nephew of the Baron, he is allowed to live at the chateau under the tutelage of Pangloss, who attempts to teach him that “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds” or as we know it ‘optimism’.
It consists of thirty chapters which are divided into three sections. At the beginning of each chapter is a summary of what to expect.
Although written a long time ago it is actually a tremendous novel, fast moving, fantastical, erratic but above all I appreciated and enjoyed the sarcastic tone of the novel. The plot parodies many adventure and romance clichés and the tone is mordantly matter of fact.
Events that Candide witnesses were based on historical happenings for example the Seven Year War, and the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, Tsunami and fires. The novel humorously and directly contends the problem of evil as did the philosophers of Voltaire’s day.
After many adventures, almost dying, finding love and losing it again, the resurrection of Pangloss and other characters, Candide meets a farmer who lives a simple life, works hard, and avoids vice and leisure. Inspired, Candide and his friends take to cultivating a garden in earnest. All their time and energy goes into the work, and none is left over for philosophical speculation. At last everyone is fulfilled and happy. Candide decides to turn his back on optimism and cultivate his garden.
The book applies to modern times as much as its own and is definitely my favourite read – just as it was Frederick the Great’s, King of Prussia, who said that it was the only book he knew that one could read and re-read and never become bored of it.
I checked it out on Amazon before I wrote this post and was surprised at how popular it still is. You can download it for free so why not check it out? I am not alone in enjoying it one review I found said it was:
“A must read for any fan of classical European literature it reads as an escalating, buccaneering romp through exotic lands with a firm tongue in cheek and a book long maxim of the thrill of the chase surpassing the kill.”
Well, I can’t beat that, can I?
Now, now, don’t put your light under that bushel. I’ll have to check out Candide first of all and then, when I’ve closed that glaring gap in my education, I shall get back to you… But tell me more, first of all, about your own novels.
My novels are humorous. They look at life and problems facing all of us who are getting older but feeling just as young as we did ten years ago. My first novel, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines, written through the eyes of a woman who is facing the dreaded ‘five-oh’, smacks slightly of Candide. Amanda Wilson doesn’t go on any great journey and meet Jesuits, become mega wealthy or get cooked by cannibals but she blunders through mishaps and hugely entertaining episodes to eventually learn to appreciate what is around her. She finally recognises that the grass is not always greener on the other side and that if she wants to enjoy her life and her relationships then she has to work at them.
I suppose deep down the message I took from reading Candide stayed with me and I hope that in years to come people will say how much they enjoyed my acerbic witty observations and how it is as relevant in the future as it is today.
That sounds fantastic. Who wouldn’t be tempted to go and get a copy now? Speaking of, here’s where you can find Carol’s books:
PS: Owing to a small scheduling delay (from my end, mea culpa) this post now coincides with Carol’s official launch of Surfing in Stilettos. How cool is that? I am so honoured to feature Carol on her launch day. HUGE congratulations, Carol, and I hope it goes fantastically well. Rock on! 🙂 xx
As always, over to you, dear reader. Have you read Candide? Is it a hard act to follow? And do you have an author or book that’s inspired you in the way that Voltaire inspired Carol? We’d love to hear about it…