Indie Author Louise Worthington is on the blog today to chat about her new release, Distorted Days.
Thank you for stopping by Nesie’s Place today, Louise!
Thank you for inviting me.
Your bio says you’re from Cheshire, and now live in Shropshire. Please give us non-Brits some idea of what that’s near.
Shropshire is a beautiful, rural county in the West Midlands famous for its hills. It’s about an hour’s drive from Birmingham airport.
You were an English teacher! Best subject on the planet! What ages did you teach and was it hard to leave the classroom behind?
I taught English to pupils aged 11-18, so I’d prepare them for GCSEs and A-levels before going on to university. I still tutor and examine as I enjoy contact with children.
I’ve only read the blurb of your latest release, Distorted Days, Louise, and I believe it’s main theme is friendship, did I get that right?
Yes, friendship and kindness as an antidote to the ups and downs that can make someone lonely or depressed. Small acts of kindness are transformative.
What inspired the story?
Reading and friendship! Doris locks herself away for a while and uses literature for escapism. I love Shrewsbury library (https://originalshrewsbury.co.uk/visit/shrewsbury-library), which Darwin attended when it was formerly a school, and that’s a key setting in the story where Doris makes friends and helps others. I have always enjoyed reading and it’s been important to me since I was a teenager, so I am thrilled to have made my small contribution to the book shelves.
Do you have a favorite character in the story?
I really like Doris because she’s quirky, flawed and good-hearted.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have 2 thrillers in the pipeline and I’m writing a novella-in-flash. They are all very different so it’s hard to say which is my favorite.
Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?
Self-published. Distorted Days is literary fiction and 53000 word so I didn’t think a publisher would go for it. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of self-publishing and have learnt a lot along the way – and I am still learning.
Do you write full time, or do you also work outside the home?
I write pretty much full time around tutoring and school-runs and family-life.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read! I love walking the dogs and run occasionally. I have family quite close by so I enjoy seeing them. I compete in triathlon occasionally when I’m feeling super energetic.
Do you have pets who “help” or inspire you? (Include a photo if you like.)
Yes- I have a dog, Maddy and daily I walk a friend’s dog. We have 5 ex-battery hens.
As a child, What did you want to do when you grew up?
I’m a huge animal-lover so I wanted to be a vet! But I was rubbish at science so I gave up that pipe-dream to study Literature at university, and then a postgraduate qualification.
What’s your next project?
It’s a thriller called Rachel’s Garden of Rooms. The rest is a secret for now!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Stick with it, be patient and have a support network.
Please share an excerpt (extract) with us from one of your favorite scenes in Distorted Days.
Doris gets a job as a librarian in Darwin library. Here she befriends Colleen, her manager, and finds joy and escapism through literature and the people who visit and work at the library. It explores the power of friendship, words and the kinship public places like libraries can bring to many lonely people. (750 words)
Behind the poetry section, a disheveled-looking man lies prostrate with the deepest and darkest circles under his eyes. At first he looks crestfallen to see someone else in the room but then he notices the name badges. Colleen kneels to take a closer look. He is much younger than her, perhaps only thirty, but his voice and eyes belong to a much older man.
‘I’m looking for a book,’ he murmurs.
His voice has a musical quality with a seesaw of notes: it goes up in the middle, then down at the end.
Doris takes in the coal smudged under his smeary blue eyes and knows she must help in whatever way she can. ‘Do you know the author?’ she asks, in an attempt to be assertive in front of her line manager whom she respects enormously and would like to impress.
His expression suggests he has no idea or is nonplussed. He remains flat on the floor, his feet pointing to opposite sides of the room, a perfect V-shape. As Colleen is calm and collected, Doris assumes this is a regular occurrence.
‘Or perhaps the genre, topic? Fiction or non-fiction?’
‘Sleep,’ he says, full of sibilance, like the S sound is the sweetest sound on any lips.
Doris spots a pale-blue cotton handkerchief protruding from his pocket and a small cut on his hand that looks like it needs Savlon and a plaster. A familiar maternal feeling sweeps over her. Talking seems to exhaust him further so she steps back to give him more air. His hand reaches for the bookshelf to get himself upright but he is clumsy, misses, reaches too late. He topples, turning into a heap of duffle-coat and loafers, emitting a puff sound as he lands in the same place.
’I can search on the computer downstairs, if you like,’ Doris offers helpfully, flapping slightly, turning to Colleen for guidance on what on earth to do next.
‘To sleep. I just want to sleep.’ He still speaks with a musical tone despite the edge of frustration; his sing-song self sounds at odds with the desperation of his sleep-deprived self – only an insomniac is left in the duffle-coat and loafers.
Colleen asks Doris to open his duffle-coat because he looks hot while she retrieves a book from the shelf. Beneath his stubble and his smudgy eyes, he is a truly handsome man. Her calm, purposeful manner soothes Doris. Perhaps this is an ordinary incident here?
The yellow-bound book is called The Wishing Tale, a slim volume with a gold-leaf title. Colleen kneels beside the heap as if to pray but immediately starts reading from the book. The crucifix around her neck swings forward. She gestures at Doris to keep stroking the man’s brow while she continues to read.
Words begin to fly from the volume in Colleen’s hand, as if they circle his head in worship to make a halo around his crown. The word ‘slumber’ places itself ever so gently on each of his eyelids, and the word ‘lullaby’ whistles into each ear.
Colleen keeps reading. A tremendous surge of letters, words and sounds make a run for his coat and under his collar. His body makes little wave movements and his head turns to one side. Then a hissing sound envelops the three of them, a low fluting hiss, the gentle but certain beats of a Z. The word ‘sleep’ dissects itself as if in pre-rapid eye-movement segments to walk up and down his body. A deep satisfying snore emanates from his nose. It is a giant’s snore. Doris puts her hand to her mouth, in part to stifle a smile. He is fast asleep. Colleen quietly closes the book.
Into each ear, the events of the day, the week, surge into his brain. The sound of a camera clicking fills the space as he processes the memories one by one. A spindle peeks out from his ear and discards an unwanted memory like a small pile of the rejected and the painful.
Colleen puts her finger to her lips and ushers Doris to the exit. They don’t speak until they are back on the first floor. The sight of the check-in desk and the library stamp brings Doris back to normality with a bump. Colleen takes Doris’s hands in hers and looks into her eyes before speaking with such earnestness that Doris feels touched and honoured to be working there with this wonderful woman.
‘Sometimes our visitors just need a bedtime story.
Many thanks to Louise for visiting with us today! Keep scrolling to learn more about Distorted Days and grab your copy today!
If she could speak to them, she would say they have exploded her heart, released firecrackers through her senses. She wishes she could call the police, the ambulance, the fire brigade, to arrest and anaesthetise and waterboard the bastards.
So, what happens when your husband runs off with your best friend? When you discover the dead body of an old man halfway through your delivery round? When your house is burgled, and you get beaten up? Doris, Andy and Colleen are about to find out. They’re also about to discover that you can find friendship and support in the oddest of places…
Heart-rending, humorous and above all authentic, Distorted Days is an exquisitely written account of the ways in which life can knock you off our feet – and how you can pick yourself up again. If you’ve experienced the fickleness of fortune, this is a book that you’ll never forget.
Louise is the author of Distorted Days and Rachel’s Garden of Rooms. The Entrepreneur will be available later in 2020. The Thief, a short story published by Park Publications, is available to download Louise Worthington’s website.
Before writing full time, Louise worked mainly as an English teacher after getting a degree in Literature and later, studying business and psychology at Masters level.
Louise grew up in Cheshire and now resides in Shropshire.
“Louise’s characters, without exception, are skilfully wrought which make the reader genuinely care for them.”