Maureen Banks, a character interview from Jonathan Hill’s…

Maureen goes to Venice

   Introducing the protagonist from Maureen goes to Venice, and what makes them them.

I’m Maureen.  Maureen Banks.  I’m a retired schoolteacher and live alone in London.  (My husband died not so long ago.)  What makes me me?  Well, people do say I attract disaster everywhere I go, and I was once called a mayhem magnet.  I’m not sure I’d agree with that.  It’s true that I don’t have the best of luck . . . oh flipping pancakes! There’s another dead bird on my lawn . . . sorry, back to the interview . . . yes, I don’t have the best of luck but I do try to make amends with my good heart. 

I was reading some reviews of my life the other day (Jonathan Hill is writing and publishing my biography in stages) and am surprised to hear of some reader reactions.  One reader gave the book five stars but said I was an atrocious monster!  Charming!!  And another advised readers to run the other way should they ever meet me in person.  Well, that’s just uncalled for if you ask me, but readers do seem to be enjoying my mishaps a lot.  I like to see people laughing and enjoying themselves; it’s just a pity that it’s at my expense!

What is your main goal in life?
It’s a simple goal and one that is what you might call a cliché.  I just want to be happy and live out the rest of my years enjoying each day to the full.  When Roy died (did I say earlier my late husband was called Roy?  Oh, well, you know now), I sent a promise up to him that I would not go with another man.  Will I keep to that?  Well, who knows?  And I wouldn’t want to spoil the recent chapter in my life if you haven’t yet read it. 

What would you change about yourelf if you could wave a magic wand?
I don’t really have to think about this one.  I’d wave the wand to break this run of misfortune I’ve had for the last fifty years or so.  It’d never happen though.  I don’t believe in magic.  Not real magic anyway.  I’ll tell you who is a good magician, although he isn’t really that.  He’s more a mind bender.  Derren Brown.  Or is it Darren?  I can never remember.  Well, this Darren Brown – no, it’s definitely Derren – he did this show the other night where he promised to glue a certain percentage of the TV population to their sofas.  I was a cynic at first but I allowed him to have a go on me.  The TV played all these weird sounds and images and I couldn’t believe it when I found myself stuck to my chair.  I thought it had worked but then I realised my cardigan buttons had caught on some of my seat cushion’s loose threads.  Time for a new chair, I think.

*Laughs* Oh, Maureen, you seem like such fun! So, imagine you’re in a lift with your favourite TV movie star, how would they react?
I’m not really fazed by celebrity, to be honest.  I’d probably act casually and just give a friendly nod.  The whole incident would pass by without hitch.  What’s that look on your face?  You don’t believe I’m capable of the ‘without hitch’ bit, do you?  Actually, I tell a lie.  If it were him off Downton Abbey, I’d probably swoon.  Now he is a true gentleman!  Goodness knows how I’d contain myself in a lift all alone with him.  I’d probably giggle nervously and tell him I’d drop everything to be his maid and turn back his bed for him every night…oh, that sounds a bit naughty doesn’t it.  Stop it, Maureen!  Behave yourself!  *giggles*

Are you happy now that your story has been told? Or is there more to come?
I’m reasonably happy, yes.  It seems to be factually accurate in the main.  Jonathan Hill, my biographer, has done a good job in recreating my life’s ups and downs so far.  Someone once approached me in the street and asked me if my trip to Venice had really been that bad.  The chap was sure the trip had been embellished to get more laughs.  He said that no-one could possibly be that disaster-prone.  I just looked him in the eye and said, “Unfortunately, they can and I am living proof of that.”  With that, he twitched nervously and ran away from me as fast as possible.  It was almost as if he feared for his life.

And a chat with the author of Maureen goes to Venice –
Jonathan Hill.

How many unpublished books/stories do you have lurking under your bed?
None, but there are plenty on my hard drive! Sometime this year I will be assembling the best stories and publishing them in a sequel to ECLECTIC: Ten Very Different Tales. In addition to those unpublished stories, I have many tales started but unfinished, to some of which I will return, to others I won’t. The trouble with me is I become impatient very easily. I will get half way into a story then suddenly have another idea I desperately want to write. It’s a shame no-one wants to read part stories. They’d have a field day with my material. 

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
The best part of being a writer is thinking that, at any given time, someone somewhere may be reading the very words you have written. It’s a very special, humbling feeling. It’s also wonderful to receive feedback from readers. When you get a rave review from someone, it pushes all your daily troubles out of the way and fills you with happiness.

The worst? I’m not sure there is a worst part. The hardest part is trying to get your books noticed in an overcrowded market. Although, this in itself can be a good thing. When someone anonymous picks your book to download out of the thousands and thousands available, it’s wonderful! 

Do you have a critique/editor partner?
To a great extent, I am my own critique/editor partner. I have always been a perfectionist and consequently my first draft is largely error-free. I use my family (mother, father, and sister) for ironing out any missed errors and they are usually good at making suggestions to improve the writing’s flow. Most of the time they help out willingly; only occasionally do they proofread my work at gunpoint. 

Promoting is something ALL authors struggle with. How are you managing yours? Ah, promoting. It’s a nasty word. It makes you sound like a pushy salesman, but writers do have to promote themselves and their books to get ‘out there’. I think you can tweet, facebook, post on forums and shout till you’re blue in the face and still not get anywhere. I have come to realise that the best way to promote your work is to, firstly, write something very good and be proud of it, and then allow readers to find your books. By blogging, interacting on forums and not pushing your book in everyone’s faces, people will take an interest sooner or later.

All of the places on the Internet I first sought with the intention of promoting my books are now like second family to me. There are wonderful communities out there where authors help and advise each other and readers interact with authors and recommend books to other readers. Promoting in such places comes second to interacting and building friendships. Of course, I send out the odd tweet and plug my freebie promotions at the time, but constantly bombarding potential readers does no writer any favours!

What is your book about? Genre, theme, essence etc.
goes to Venice
is essentially a comedy.  Maureen is a character fun to read about but
possibly less fun to experience in reality! 
She attracts disaster everywhere she goes and her trip to Venice is no
different.  The book gives its readers a
taste of Italy (I holidayed in Venice myself before writing the book) and is
mostly great fun.  Although, there is a
definite darker tone which takes over near the end of the book.  I never like to let readers rest on their
laurels.  Sometimes it’s good to lull
readers into a false sense of security and then pull the rug out from under
their feet.

A Letter for Maureen

“Maureen’s back! 
Run away!  Hide anything she might
break!  But this time, that might include
your heart.” (Amazon reviewer – January 2013)

When it’s Maureen’s turn to chair the local book group meeting, choosing a new
outfit turns out to be the least of her worries.  A secret confided in Maureen by a fellow
reader impacts on her life greatly over the following year.  Then comes a revelation which could change
the way Maureen lives her life altogether.

The disaster-prone Maureen, recently recovered from her comic mishaps in
Venice, stars in a story that is both hilarious and heartbreaking.

A novella of ~18,500 words.  This is the
second to be published in the Maureen series, but the book can be read as a
stand-alone story.

Author Jonathan Hill

Hill is an independent author from Manchester, UK.

2012, he published his first book of short stories, ‘ECLECTIC: Ten Very
Different Tales’, which cover a wide range of genres.
October 2012, Jonathan released ‘Maureen goes to Venice’, a comic novella for
the Kindle. The book was named as one of the top three best short stories in
The IBB Best Indie Books of 2012 Awards.
December 2012, ‘A Letter for Maureen’ was released, the second in the Maureen
series of Kindle books. The book can also be read as a stand-alone story.
is an avid reader and his blog ‘Jonathan Hill: Writer, Reader, Book Lover’
features book reviews, author interviews, quizzes, competitions and pieces of
his own writing.
is also a keen photographer and theatregoer.

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