MICHAEL GALLAGHER WRITES

FABULOUS FRIENDS

ANITA DOW

Meet Anita Dow.

In terms of supporting writers on Twitter, Anita is queen. I know of few people generous enough to give their pinned tweet over to the advancement of other people's projects and reputations.

She is also one of a growing club of readers to have read every one of my six novels, and I am thrilled to report that she loves them.

Thank you for joining us this month Anita, and for sharing the wonderful story of your life!

XXX Michael

Anita writes:

I have been following author Michael Gallagher on Twitter for 3-4 years now and am a huge fan of his books as well as his informative and entertaining Twitter posts. I was surprised and delighted when he invited me to be featured on his great new website on the 'Fabulous Friends' page.

I was born in Guy's Hospital London – a record length baby at the time, although I've never grown taller than 5' 1”. My parents moved to Kent when I was about two and I've always lived in that county. I'm a country girl at heart and grew up with two younger sisters and a menagerie of pets: at one time we had 36 various animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea-pigs, fish, hamsters, birds and a horse and donkey. We spent all our free time making camps and climbing trees, when we weren't on pet-caring duties. My ballet teacher grandmother despaired of us tomboys.

My parents had very little money as my dad was building his own insurance business at the same time as doing an extensive house rebuild of an old rural property, just outside the village of Downe – where Charles Darwin lived for many years. On the advice of my grandad, who was in the building trade, we moved out of the old house and made a temporary home in a timber and corrugated-iron barn next to the house. “It should only take about 18 months to rebuild the old place,” Grandad declared to my twenty-something parents. (He himself had to cycle 10 miles to get to us as he didn't drive.)

Well, we moved into 'The Stable', prettied up with curtains, carpets and gas lighting, in September 1964 and moved into the finished rebuild eight years later! During that time my dad, who was not a builder, installed electricity (learned from a library book). My mum raised three girls with a separate tiny outside kitchen containing a bath beneath a removable wooden kitchen counter. We had a separate outside toilet that was little more than a hut – and freezing in winter. Our living quarters were as cosy as my parents could make them, although several times the corrugated-iron roof blew off and we were despatched to our grandparents while my parents made repairs. I'm sure it was all much more fun for us children than the adults.

Newspaper article on living in The Stable; January 1965

Report on the reverse about the death of Churchill; January 1965

One January when my dad was working away, our door and windows froze up following heavy snow, and Mum had to break a window to get us all food from the outside kitchen. Quite an adventure! We had no telephone for years and TV only for special events eg the Olympic Games. Dad would acquire a set for the duration but they never worked very well. We didn't care as we were too busy playing outside and doing horsey things. My parents didn't drive and we had to walk to primary school a mile away or take the bus into Bromley – an ordinary town that was the birthplace of author and historian H.G Wells. We all grew up with my grandparents' wartime 'make do and mend' mantra, and I'm afraid that's never left me, so I'm a terrible hoarder, but very resourceful.

I've worked in various careers, including tourism, catering, telecommunications, education and the family marine insurance business. Working for family is certainly 'interesting' and some of the hardest work I've ever done. Most recently I worked in the education sector for 16 years before being made redundant. I taught 4-11 year olds in a tiny village school, covering and supporting teachers as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant. I also taught French and R.E to the 7-11 year age group.

I am the proud parent of two very independent adult children who have been a delight to nurture. They fill me with pride at the way they care for their immediate family and friends whilst aiming to make a useful difference in the world. Aside from good health and peace, what more could a parent ask for?

About twenty years ago my life took a different turn when I developed vision issues which – after many fruitless investigations at various eye clinics – proved to be quite rare, with no treatment, and eventually forced me to give up driving. Living in a very rural location that curtailed my social life greatly. I was very into dancing then – mostly Salsa because I love Latin music. None of the dance venues were accessible without a car and my nearest dancing friend moved out of the area so sadly I had to give it up.

This coincided with being made redundant from my job in education but soon I found myself on an unexpected new path involving the marketing of books and music. For the last 6-7 years I have been working with British author and composer H.E Wilburson on The Martian Diaries – a trilogy continuing H.G Wells' The War Of The Worlds. It features his own original music and has garnered quite a few awards. I do a lot of the book and social media marketing for that project and spend my days doing lots of reading in one form or another – not an onerous task for a bookworm! Fortunately my visual ability for reading and close work is still good.

I've learned a lot about book marketing, social media marketing and self publishing and I number authors, poets, artists, musicians, screenwriters and film makers amongst my online friends. I favour Twitter over the other social media platforms and enjoy using it for my own pleasure as well as business. You can find me @martiandiaries and @GoAnitaDow and my own account is primarily to promote and support creative people. I also share online articles I think authors will find useful, and reviews for the books I've read from independent self-publishing authors. Recently I became a reviewer for Book Sirens and I would highly recommend authors checking out their excellent services for a really miniscule admin cost. Authors can screen potential reviewers and see their review profiles on various platforms.

These days I still live in quite a rural location but with a large village a mile away. My very active 84 year old mother lives in a cosy little annexe at the bottom of the garden with an idyllic view over fields and woods. We rent out two rooms in the main house where I live and over the last six years we have had 16 tenants. It's quite an adventure to invite a complete stranger to come and share your home. I've certainly observed some very strange eating habits and the percentage of people with OCD is quite startling. Renting rooms while you live there is not recommended for the faint-hearted but when you find someone who you click with, you have a valued new friend.

So, that's an overview of my life and thank you to Michael for the honour of being featured as one of his 'Fabulous Friends'. If you haven't yet checked out his books, I urge you to do so. They are beautifully written historical fiction, witty and lively, and you can even follow one of his characters on Twitter @sendforoctavius.

Other Fabulous Friends:


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