My pager beeped; Rachel’s voice, ‘Call from Brunel, Harry. Have you finished?’
I loaded the last oxygen cylinder onto the rack and flicked the switch.
‘I’m in cardiology, no one closer?’
‘Chair or trolley?’
‘Okay, I’ll get one. Tell them twenty minutes.’
The hospital corridors smell of old rubber, mellow and warm. They’re shiny grey green in between the scratches and scuffmarks. I know every inch and there are miles of them.
Brunel is my favourite ward; Sister Veronica and I go back a long way. There was no one around when I got there so no relatives to worry about. Sister Veronica was waiting for me.
‘I’m glad it’s you, Harry. Pleased to see you, sorry to hear about your mother. How are you?’
‘Better off here, life seems a bit empty at home. It’ll take a bit of getting used to.’
‘Of course, you were close, you were good to her.’
‘She was good to me but life goes on as she would say. What have you got for me today?’
Sister Veronica led me to a side ward with pale blue curtains surrounding a bed. She swept them swept back with a tinny rush and there was a girl with long fair hair and a pale face looking up at the ceiling. It took me by surprise. I hadn’t expected a girl and so young, she could only be in her twenties. She was wearing a white jumper and grey and white check skirt.
Today we talk about THE MENAGERIE, a book by Clare L. Roberts published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author, Clare L. Roberts, to get to know her better, how she came up with the idea to write THE MENAGERIE, as well as what made her decide the title of her book.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- How did you come up with the idea of writing several stories in one book?
I started writing short stories at Warwick University for the M.A. in writing. I also enjoyed stories by Claire Keegan, an Irish writer and Bernard Mac Laverty another Irish writer who lives in Scotland. The ideas came from all sorts of different sources – a radio news item about the theft of a Guarini violin worth hundreds of thousands and I thought, ‘there’s a story there, no, three stories – the man who made it, the person who played it and the person who stole it. It was just the used rubbery smell of an old hospital corridor that gave me ‘family.’ I thought of the porters who would know those corridors by heart. A character has a story but not necessarily a novel, that’s why the stories are short.
- What messages did you want to communicate to your readers?
That humanity is good, as we see in Ukraine, heroic even. That life is not always easy. We make many choices and each one reveals our nature. Selfish materialistic people do not thrive. We enrich each other’s lives with each encounter no matter the outcome. To celebrate the strength and resilience of the human spirit to rise over rubble.
- What made you think “The Menagerie” was the right title for the stories told here?
One of the stories is about a postman who collects abandoned pets. He has a collection of varied animals and I thought, ‘I have a collection of varied people.’
- How did it feel to see your book published?
This is so exciting. I have written all my life in between doing so many other things but writing is my passion but it is about communication. When a friend I did not expect to like or even want to read my stories was reading them for the second time and crying happily over one and said, ‘you are talented,’ I felt doubly blessed. I am glad to communicate, to put people’s fingers on the pulse of humanity, life.
- Are you working on a new writing project?
I am submitting ‘Six Tales from Shakespeare’ for publication at the moment. I studied Shakespeare for two years as a postgraduate student at Oxford University and I love his writing – there is humanity written big. Many people have said that school study put them off. I would like to redress that and help people see the point. Each story has an introduction that explains the special qualities of the play, what it is best known for, and the book has a brief introduction giving my vision of Shakespeare and his life. That is finished so I am working on a new collection of short stories. Two about mask wearing, one about a homeless girl and one about an Eritrean refugee who died on the fishing boat that took nearly a thousand lives, inspired by Christina Cattaneo, a pathologist who fought to give them the dignity of decent burials, Vive L’Italia!
Europe Books thanks the author Clare L. Roberts once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside her on the editorial path that led to the publication of her book THE MENAGERIE. We wish her the best of luck for her future works.
To you, my dear reader, I wish that this book will be a source of inspiration and reflection, allowing you to get some insights on how to enrich your eyesight, how not to lose confidence and how to be strong and resilient.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy this enlightening reading!