My first author interview this month is with the mysterious Alberta Ross. She and I connected early on, and I knew she was working on her Sefuty Chronicles. Now, she’s emerged with the first two books in the series— Ellen’s Tale and The Storyteller’s Tale.
I’m thrilled to be a stop on her extensive book tour. Please give a very warm welcome to author and lady of mystery, Alberta Ross.
In Alberta’s Own Words
I spent the first part of my adult life travelling the world, the middle years studying and now have settled down to write. From the first part I have endless photographs, memories and friends. From the second I have a BSc Hons, an MA and friends. Now in this part everything comes together.
Over the years my interests have expanded, as has my book and music collection. A short list would include reading (almost anything) science, opera, folk, gardening, philosophy, crazy patchwork, freeform crochet, ethics, social history, cooking (and eating of course) gardening, anthropology, climate change and sustainability.
My parents gave me, apart from a love of reading and music, an interest and curiosity in everything which in itself has become a total inability to be bored and for this I am always grateful.
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Inside Alberta Ross’ Mind
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Well now, if I was a few decades younger I might include many things that matter not a jot now! My idea of happiness lies in contentment. This sounds a very ‘old’ thing to say but contemplating my life as it is I find contentment is the correct word. I moved to this new abode (which we had built specifically for us) about ten years ago and every day I love being in it; when I go out, even if it’s to the shops (I hate shops), when I look around the village, the surrounding scenery I’m happy. I so enjoy the company of my friends who have been there with me through such bad times and so many good. I have achieved pretty much all I ever wanted (travel, study and now writing). I am as happy now as I ever have been and it is not a high with a threatened low to follow but a deep contentment.
What turns you on creatively? Difficult one this. Have been thinking about it. My mind has always been full of creativity, since I was very young when I was always reinventing myself. I find ideas for craft popping in at unexplained moments, a snippet of conversation or an object sets off an idea for a story or maybe an art doll. A building can spark an idea for a plant in my garden or . . . I’m not sure any one thing does it. Utter exhaustion can dampen it, depression can seem to put it on hold; however I find when these have passed my mind has actually been working on some form of creativity behind my back.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I had to ask my friends for this one and they had a problem so I guess that means I don’t overuse to any great extent but apparently I do say ‘for goodness’ sake’ a great deal when trying to get over a point or when exasperated. I also say ‘Oh joy, oh rapture’ when being sarky (sarcastic) about some coming event or idea (rapture used in proper way not the end of the world way!)
In my writing autocrit tells me I overuse – knew, that and was.
What quality do you most admire in a man? Easy one – gentleness, reasonableness, humour and curiosity. Not necessarily in that order.
What quality do you most admire in a woman? Pretty much the same as above but would add independence of spirit.
What is your greatest regret? Not sure I have any. I don’t, as a whole, indulge in ‘what if’s’.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would like to have better social skills – mild dyspraxia has made that difficult – I do often offend without meaning to.
What is your greatest fear? Going blind – all my life I have been scared of total darkness. I had a night light for decades, now I sleep with a little part of the curtain open – if I wake up in darkness I freak out, get a feeling of suffocation and can feel the adrenalin racing in time to my heart. By the time I can get the light on I am beginning to shake.
Which living person do you most admire? That has to be my sister. Forget politicians, world leaders, celebrities I’ve been alive too long to be impressed. No, it’s my sister. She has been deaf with poor and decreasing sight since birth, was registered blind about thirty years ago and, in the last ten years, has lost the tiny bit of residual sight. All her life she has been cheerful, up beat and friendly; sees good in nearly everyone, always ready to suspend judgment. She has continually adjusted to changing problems with a total lack of self pity.
She has travelled and lived in foreign climes on her own, and makes friends wherever she goes. Now fast approaching 70 she walks out every day with her guide dog. She keeps herself busy brailling her memoirs, knitting blankets and cardigans for family and friends and inventing mind games for herself, as well as doing the shopping, washing and ironing. Is known and recognised by her laughter. She attracts folk to her side like a beacon and I defy anyone to remain depressed after enjoying her company. She is kind, good in every definition of the word, patient, caring, gentle and finds it almost impossible to find bad in anyone. People like her are rare.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Well now, maybe something impossible to imagine. Now I wouldn’t like to attempt this but I would like to have the skill and expertise to go into genetics or study the brain.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? A cat – in a good cat home with someone who understands I need space!
What do you consider your greatest achievement? That has to be my degrees – I went off to university in my 40s to take a science degree. I had been a poor scholar at school, told I was stupid, not put into national exams as it would waste everyone’s time! And not having used my brain much in the intervening years, this was really a daft move.
Scared myself rigid. Loved it. My friend from forever/editor chased my missing verbs putting them back in my essays and I managed with her editorial help to get a BSc Hons in food science, nutrition and anthropology. Flushed with success, and a 2:1 pass, I then took and achieved an MA. The child not allowed to sit the 11+ because she was too stupid came into her own four decades later.
The next greatest would be publishing my first novel in my 60s. I’m slow off the starting blocks!! Opening that first box of books from the printers and the first time I saw a book of mine on the library shelf – good moments.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Self-centredness. From that stems so many intentional and unintentional deplorable actions and thoughts.
What is your greatest extravagance? Books, the owning of them. Even with a reduction in income, and the fact that I am trying to find homes for thousands of them, I still buy from charity shops and boot fairs as well as online (I remember as if it was yesterday back in 80s when I first discovered Amazon! What an Aladdin’s cave!) and from bookshops.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? All my early ambitions of things to do before I die have been fulfilled so this question leaves me wondering about new ones. I’ve been pondering for weeks now but haven’t come up with anything really. Just to keep doing what I am for as long as I can – oh and live till I’m 120.
What is your present state of mind? Contented, busy, plotting, planning, excited.
What are some of your favorite curse words? I don’t have a favourite; I’m not known for swearing, especially in company. I say the occasional ‘shit’ – there was no swearing in the house when I grew up. Dad’s ‘damn and blast’ it was the nearest we got to hearing any. Then I spent my working life with small children and so, although I had started hearing the words, I never used them, on principle. Now I don’t have to mind my language I find I haven’t the habit.
What is your motto? ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’. I have found this to be true so often; if you wait long enough you’ll find that the event that was bad turns out to be good. And ‘You’ve gotta laugh’ (the end of that is ‘or you’d cry’). It actually does improve things if you smile or get on with life with as much good humour as you can, it generates more good humour, makes troubles less dreadful.
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Your motto is perfect for authors, Alberta, and congratulations on your new releases! I invite all readers to leave this lovely lady a comment or ask her a question.
Connect with Alberta