Today, I’m posting an interview with an irresistibly entertaining author, Victoria Twead, author of a series of funny memoirs; CHICKENS, MULES AND TWO OLD FOOLS, TWO OLD FOOLS ~ OLE! and TWO OLD FOOLS ON A CAMEL, which has been on the NYT bestseller list.
First, a little background on Victoria:
Hmmm… what to say? I was born at a very early age, stumbled through childhood being called “Dustbin-Lid Eyes” then worked at an animal sanctuary looking after a gannet who was terrified of water. I misbehaved as a teenager and lurched happily through adulthood and a career as a schoolteacher. Marriage, babies, I’ve done all that... But there was always something missing. The children left home, and Joe and I moved to Spain. I started writing and my second lease of life began. Five books later, I’m busier than I’ve ever been, and loving it...
SARETT: How would you describe your approach to writing these memoirs? Did you pick the incidents first, and build around them, or let it flow?
TWEAD: I’ve always found other people’s lives fascinating. I’m an incurable list-maker and I keep records and journals. When I nagged Joe into relocating to our crazy little Spanish mountain village, every day was hilarious, I looked at my notes. I realised our life might make a good memoir.
I grabbed a huge sheet of paper, drew a timeline across it, then jotted down all the events I wanted to include. That gave me a good shape to the book. The first two books, “Chickens” and “Olé!” were a joy to write and almost wrote themselves. The third, “Two Old Fools on a Camel”, was much harder because of the difficult circumstances.
SARETT: The big choice in writing creative nonfiction of any type is tone-- and yours is decidedly humorous and good-natured. Was that an instinctive decision on your part?
TWEAD: I write the way I am. That’s what I like about memoirs, you open your heart and let it all pour out, so I’ll take that as a compliment! I’m tickled pink every time a reader tells me they spluttered their coffee laughing out loud.
SARETT: Your husband is a major character in your books-- and in some ways, I feel the books are about a happy marriage as much as travel. Your response?
TWEAD: A reviewer said that “Chickens” was a love story which took me aback. Joe and I are pretty comfortable together and rarely throw things at each other anymore. I still wish he’d sweep the kitchen floor occasionally.
SARETT: Your books have terrific Spanish recipes -- and they add to the distinctive feel of the books. Besides, the recipes have great names. (Grumpy’s Garlic Mushrooms -- who can resist?) What inspired your decision to include them?
TWEAD: I wish adding recipes had been my idea, but it wasn’t. A friend suggested all the recipes I’d gathered from the village ladies could be included in the book, and I jumped on the idea.
SARETT: The “Old Fools” series makes no bones that you and your husband are, well, old. Did you make a self-conscious choice to go for “old” readers?
TWEAD: I was being honest. Joe and I call ourselves silly old fools frequently, so it seemed right to put “Two Old Fools” in every title. The funny thing is that I get fan letters from people of all ages.
SARETT: Your longing for Sunny Spain while you’re in Rainy Britain seems almost archetypal -- the English seem to have a history of moving to hot places. I’m wondering if the English, apart from being funny, are restless.
TWEAD: Oh gosh, yes! I believe the whole of Britain could be fitted into the state of Texas. (Am I right?) England is so small, it’s hardly surprising we Brits have the urge to explore pastures new to avoid stepping on each other.
SARETT: I’m always looking for recommendations for new writers. Can you recommend some new (or forgotten) travel writers and memoirists for our blog readers?
TWEAD: There are two that I’ve discovered and have made friends with the authors.
“Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca?” by Alan Parks is a charming tale of starting up an alpaca farm in Spain.
“Sell the Pig” by eccentric Tottie Limejuice describes how she dragged her ancient mother and alcoholic brother to live in France.
SARETT: Your title “Two Old Fools on a Camel” did bring to mind the words of the very funny Jerome K. Jerome’s “Three Men on a Boat.” Just curious, were his books an influence? Other influences?
TWEAD: I loved Jerome K Jerome’s book, but I can’t say it was an influence. As for others-- maybe Gerald Durrell and James Heriott inspired me, and I share their love of animals.
SARETT: What are your current projects?
TWEAD: I’m kept busy chicken wrangling, writing my fourth Old Fools book and helping new memoir authors get published. And to think we came to Spain to retire… Life is good! Thanks so much for this interview.
You can find Victoria online here:
Find Victoria's Old Fools Books:
Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools Amazon
Two Old Fools ~ Olé! Amazon
Two Old Fools on a Camel Amazon