Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Ten Questions - Jackie Buxton

Author, blogger and Chase Magazine book reviewer, Jackie Buxton, joins us today for Ten Questions. Jackie helped me years ago by assisting with my grammatical shortcomings on a short story I was submitting, so it's no surprise that she's helping out (far more needy) others with her latest story.

Jackanory or Ballamory?

Jackanory, I’m afraid, although I have lived through Ballamory with my children, the youngest of which was a big fan. I remember having to screech the car to a halt in a village in North Wales driving back from holiday once, because the row of brightly painted terraced houses was: Ballamory. Photo time!

What’s your latest book about?

I’ve contributed a story to the Stories for Homes anthology, the brain child of Sally Swingewood 

Submissions were invited on the theme of the ‘home’ and a wide range of stories were chosen for inclusion. Some are really poignant so get your hankies out! My contribution, A Life with Additives, inspired by a tour of one of the few working mills in Britain, was a bit more frivolous. I was totally wedded to the owner’s dedication to the art of producing ‘real’ flour, but when I bought a, admittedly, large bag and little change came back from a tenner I couldn’t help being concerned for the mill’s financial viability -  who would buy this flour on a regular basis? And that’s where my down-trodden character, Shelley, and her disgruntled bread-making came from.
All proceeds from the book go to Shelter, a no-frills charity which has been working tirelessly for homeless people since 1966. The electronic version of Stories for Homes is available here and the soft back is due to be released in the next few weeks.

Chips and cheese or chips and gravy?
Chips and gravy please! Or, better still, chips and mushy peas – much to my children’s disgust.

Where do you write?
Hmmm. I like to mix it up a bit. I spend most of my time in my beautifully refurbished study, nose stuck to the screen - I’m still excited about my new Changing Room of a study even though the mammoth operation took place over six months ago - but when I’m editing I start off with a hard copy and take myself to different areas of the house and garden where, hold on to your hats, this summer it has actually been TOO HOT to write. I fervently believe that mixing it up helps you spot things you wouldn’t have found so easily if you hadn’t moved from the place where you scribbled down that first draft. It’s like the exercise whre pple write lke ths and you cn stll understand it – write in the same place and your brain sees what it saw before. This is a very handy belief because it also allows me to whisk myself off to one of about twenty coffee shops (if my loyalty cards are anything to go by) at the mere whiff of a re-write, where I can happily sit for hours aided by the odd cappuccino or two. 

Dinner for Two or Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read Breakfast at Tiffany’s but Dinner for Two made me chortle, and I have a vague recollection of shedding a tear, so I’ll happily plump for that.

Is your writing inspired in any way by real events?
I think the honest answer to that is that it always is. I’m not sure I have the wackiest imagination, I’d struggle to write more than a paragraph of fantasy for example, but it does feel as though life spins my mind into a constant spaghetti of plot lines. I struggle to walk down the street without a, ‘What If?’ moment, noticing the way someone’s walking, speaking loudly into their phone, dreaming…

My novel, Glass Houses, came to me in a rush while I was working on a different story (now consigned to the bottom drawer) during an Arvon residential writing course but really, it was a couple of incidents prior to this which gave me the backdrop. When a charismatic lady spoke of her forgiveness for her son's killers in the 7/7 London bombings, I was struck by how much more powerful this was than the, nonetheless, very human reaction of anger. I also remember noticing the complete devastation in the face of the driver who caused several deaths in the Selby train crash, when he fell asleep at the wheel. The press demonised him but I couldn’t help thinking that this wasn't the face of a cold blooded killer, rather of someone who'd made a dreadful mistake. He'd punish himself for the rest of his life - maybe he didn't need us to do it too.
From this came Glass Houses, the story of a woman whose life implodes after sending a fatal text from the M62.  Pilloried by press and public, she is forced to swap most of what she previously held dear for a life in the public eye.  Many find her breathtaking honesty and humanity infectious but, unfortunately, not everybody approves.

What’s your ideal writing chair – armed or armless?    
Very dull answer I’m afraid, after years of physio on every muscle, limb, joint, it seems, in my body, (too much running but I’m addicted so resistance is futile) I no longer have the luxury of curling up in a soft, enveloping arm chair and scribbling in a notepad. These days I have to sit bolt upright, usually on my orthopaedically approved studio chair which does have arms but I never use them. Should I?

Physical book or e-book?

PHYSICAL BOOK! I need to turn the pages. I like to feel the cover, turn the book over to read the blurb. Most of my reading I do in the bath. And I can’t get excited about introducing any more screen time in my life. But, ahem, I understand other people feel differently and sometimes wish that I did when I’m removing shoes (can you imagine?) from my packing because my To Be Read pile is taking my suitcase over the 15 kilo limit. But, even if ‘they’ reduce the maximum luggage limit to two point five kilos, I can’t see this particular Luddite budging much before the last printing press is removed from the western world.

Prisoner Cell Block H or H from Steps?
Neither! I struggle to watch television, my mind wanders too much and I’d choose a film over a series any time (unless it’s Hussle, Homeland or Luther). And, like much on TV, I couldn’t bear the acting in Prisoner Cell Block H. I am a harsh critic I’m afraid. I remember my three sisters bedding down to watch Blake’s 7 on Monday nights and being staggered that they could physically watch the stilted acting - I can only have been about ten years old. Steps? I’m not great with poor singing either – sorry!

Where can we find you?
Ever seen the advert for a well-known brand of, err, coke where the woman gives five different methods for contact to her slightly uncomfortable new date? Well, here I go: I blog at; my website is; I dip in and out of Facebook and love to tweet where I’m @jaxbees. Oh, and I’m also over at LinkedIn
 I fear I’m losing you now…


  1. Thanks so much for having me over here, Charlie. Here's hoping I can persuade a few readers into the delights of chips and mushy peas. I've just ordered Seven Daze on Kindle - which is a big compliment because, as you know, I'm a 'real' book girl at heart but I'm trying to get with the programme.

  2. Thank you Jackie. Very kind of you, and it was a pleasure to hear about your writing room. I've never been too sure of chips and peas, unless vast quantities of tomato sauce are involved.

  3. Nice blog. Chips and curry sauce.

  4. Hello Wendy, thanks for popping by. I'm a fan of chips and curry sauce myself, has to be chinese curry sauce though.