In this month’s Words With… interview, we’ve turned the tables on reviewer, Kendra Olson, who is more used to asking the questions for Lothian Life. An American, now living in London, she tells us why she’s an honorary Scot...
Whatâ€™s your connection to the Lothians?
Several years after moving from California, I began taking creative writing courses through local, Leith-based author, Marianne Wheelaghanâ€™s online writing school, writingclasses.co.uk. Later, during my MLitt at University of Glasgow, a local publisher (Pilrig Press) agreed to take on my novel. As you know, I also write book reviews for Lothian Life. Even though Iâ€™m currently living in London, Iâ€™ve always felt at home with the Scottish because of their warmth, intelligence and great sense of humour!
Have you a favourite place to visit locally?
There are so many wonderful places to visit in the Lothiansâ€”itâ€™s difficult to choose! I have to admit I love spending time in the National Gallery, not only for the amazing art (the French Impressionism gallery is my favourite), but also because itâ€™s such an inspiring space to experience. Thereâ€™s something about the way itâ€™s been designed that just makes me want to get comfy on their plush sofas and write away until they kick me out!
Are you a â€˜gloomy-fog-over-the-castleâ€™Â or a â€˜summer-on-Princes Street-gardensâ€™ type?
Definitely a â€˜summer-on Princes Street-gardensâ€™ type! Although California is the land of perpetual summer and, once upon a drought-free time, flowers, our gardens canâ€™t compare to the elegance of those in Edinburgh. I love the fairy-tale like hedgerows and enchanted nooks nestled near a real-life storybook cottage. Still, we do get beautiful roses and Pasadena, the town I grew up in, has a lovely Rose Parade every New Year.
We’ve agreed you’re an honorary Scot; where would you describeÂ your roots?
Interesting question! As readers may know, some of my family originally emigrated (in the 1800s!) to America from Scandinavia, but I also have family from Ireland. Of course, with airfare from America being so expensive, few members of my immediate family have ever seen these places. Iâ€™m not sure if itâ€™s a passion or more of an obsession really, but, since moving, Iâ€™ve really enjoyed getting to visit (and learn more about) the places in which they lived and what their lives were like at the time.
Whatâ€™s your greatest achievement so far â€“ personally or professionally?
I think this is a tie between successfully having my first novel published and receiving my MLitt in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. Getting my degree meant so much to me, not only because I wanted to further my writing career, but also because I never completed my Bachelorâ€™s. I moved to England when I was part-way through it (long story!), thinking I could continue here. I had no idea how expensive living in the UK would be.
And when youâ€™re not reviewing for Lothian Life or otherwise working?Â
My partner and I have two beautiful, long-hair rescue cats we enjoy spending time with. We found them eating scraps at a fish and chip shop and decided to take them in. They were infested with fleas and underweight when we got them. Now theyâ€™re spoiled rotten, and slightly overweight, which weâ€™re trying to do something about. Besides animals, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, exploring urban neighbourhoods, visiting museums and galleries, hiking in the country (the area my parents now live near in the Rocky Mountains is great for this) Â and reading as much as I can!
You can connect with Kendra on Twitter: @KendrarOlson
Or visit her blog:Â https://kendraolson.wordpress.com/
And her novel, The Forest King’s Daughter isÂ available at:Â http://www.amazon.co.uk/Forest-Kings-Daughter-Kendra-Olson-ebook/dp/B00UBTSNBI/Â Â Â #iBooksÂ https://itun.es/gb/N5Fh6.l