‘Throng’ is n. – A multitude of persons or of living beings pressing or pressed into a close body or assemblage; a crowd.
Welcome to The Thursday Throng and this week I’d like to welcome Lesley Fletcher, a poet and the creator of 5 Pillars of the Gypsy – a work that combines her art and poetry in a beautiful volume that stirs the senses and the heart of the reader.
I have found myself reading more poetry recently as a result of finding new and inspiring writers around the web and Lesley is one such person. I was fortunate to be given a copy of her new book, 5 Pillars of the Gypsy and found myself stunned by the combination of imagery through her paintings and words through her poetry. It is a beautifully explored subject and left me feeling fulfilled and inspired. This is a journey both emotional and spiritual towards a sense of redemption and understanding and acceptance.
So, on to the interview.
Hi Lesley and I’d like to open by asking you my favourite question, ‘What is One thing that No-One Normally Knows About You?’
People are somewhat surprised to learn that my halo falls off sometimes. I have a soft, friendly mannerism that seems to attract a bit of bulls**t and I truly believe that those who throw it my way are totally unaware of my sixth sense. So the answer is that my intuition is a huge hidden asset.
What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work?
I recently did a visual check at Amazon regarding my books/author page; which order they were in and if there was anything new, anything to update and to my great surprise I received a review that left me completely stunned. It reads short but oh so sweet – ‘How beautifully written your poetry is, reminding me of Elizabeth Barrett Browning with a touch of Aristotle thrown in for perception. Well done you.’ If it gets better than that then someone will have to pinch me.
How did you choose a title for your book?
There were three previous titles before finally deciding that ‘5 Pillars of the Gypsy’ was the right one. I feel, in retrospect that all of the setbacks that I encountered were because I had the wrong title! 🙂 That may seem like a foolish thing to say out loud but I believe strongly in listening to the Universe and it was yelling at me for quite a while.
I forget the first title (I had put in in my phone notebook and lost it when my phone died forever).
The second title was ‘Healing with Words’ but when I mentioned it in an interview a woman who had written a book with the same title blasted me via email. I know legally I had every right to maintain and use it and even suggested that cross promotion may help her sales but alas she proved to me in no uncertain terms that ‘cross’ was the optimum word so I scraped it.
My third title was ‘Listener’ which after some time and ordering a proof copy, struck me as a BORING title that would not reflect the nuances of the book. I do though mention in my book that listening has afforded me treasures I wasn’t aware existed until I learned how.
Finally, I had a brainstorm and instituted the current title to reflect the poems and artwork in the fashion that they were created and incorporate ‘Gypsy’ into the title because that is what the book is about. It is about a mind that will not settle on being just placated. It is about a gypsy who searches, as we all do for a place to call her own spiritual centre of our Universe. And finally, I used the reference to the 5 Pillars of Islam (renamed by the gypsy) to reflect places in the Middle East that deeply, deeply affected my own perception of people, religion, misconceptions and realisations and ultimately my art and poetry/prose.
How do you remain sane while working?
Peace and quiet are my best friends but neither one is an assurance of sanity. I feel that stepping outside of the box of ‘sane’ is a necessity when writing or the imagination will not be able to produce its best results. In order for me to write more than just notebook writing I have to set up a perfect scenario for myself. I know what works for me is cloistering without a schedule or a care to watch the clock regarding day, night, eating, sleeping – the works. It is not always possible to do this because life gets in the way but I have found a few opportunities and grabbed them! And that is how I have been able to produce my four books.
What has been the best experience you have ever had in your life?
I mention in one of my poems (the Gypsy Continues) a reference to 27 days which refers to my own solo trip to tour Turkey. “When she leaves that life behind /For twenty-seven days, / The universe must guide her / As she stumbles through the haze.”
One of the parts of the tour included a 4 night, 3 day trip on a 16 person Gullet that leaves from Fethiye to Olympus. There were mostly part couples traveling together, the crew and myself. Good fortune shined on that boat because, considering the mix of people the unexpected happened; there was a tremendous chemistry that resonated throughout the trip. As it happened I let someone know it was my birthday and very much to my delight the crew and its passengers took it upon themselves to throw me a surprise party on board. There was singing, eating, dancing and finally a birthday cake prepare by the cook without the advantage of an oven, complete with sparklers, a small gift, a card signed by all and a glorious rendition of Happy Birthday! Following those festivities we departed our lagoon on a water taxi to a lone ‘disco’ in the middle of the sea. That created a memory that I will hold near and dear forever. I don’t ever remember having a surprise party – I had a blast
What is the book that you wished you had written?
My first reaction was to choose a classic here but recently I read a book, ‘White Tiger’ by Aravind Adiga that really caught me off guard, taking me completely by surprise. It won the 2008 Man Booker Prize but even if it hadn’t won any prizes I would have loved to have written it because to have written this type of book takes deep knowledge of the people of India and superb writing skill as it is a first-person narrative with an unattractive main character. Adiga’s honesty is something to be emulated. I did not catch a hint of apology or trickery in his honesty. Now, to be able to produce a book like this, keep it current, win a prize, sell it and make a living from it must have required so much gumption coupled with a confident resolve that I admire and aspire to create for myself.
Set in a raw and un-romanticized India, The White Tiger—the first-person confession of a murderer—is as compelling for its subject matter as it is for the voice of its narrator: amoral, cynical, unrepentant, yet deeply endearing.
(Linda’s aside – White Tiger is also one of my unexpected favourite reads which challenges you to think differently about people and what they do)
25. If you could commit the perfect murder where would you hide the body? Best not to have a body Linda. No body – no proof there was a murder. I know because I watch TV sometimes 🙂
(Linda’s aside – Good point Lesley)
Thanks so much Lesley for spending a little time with me today and I wish you all the very best for 5 Pillars of the Gypsy.
Where to buy the book and find out more about Lesley.
You can find out more about Lesley on her website at: journeyofthegypsy.wordpress.com/
Oh, and you can find my reviews on Goodreads here: goodreads.com/book/show/13597555-5-pillars-of-the-gypsy and on Amazon UK here: amazon.co.uk/dp/0986533246 and on Amazon.com amazon.com/dp/0986533246
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not email me to find out more.
If you would like to see past Authors featured on The Thursday Throng you can click here: womanontheedgeofreality.com/category/thursday-throng/