I’m taking bets that my next Kent Writer is one you might not have heard of yet, but soon will! Mary Hamer spends much of her time in Whistable, when she’s not researching books such as her debut and forthcoming novel, Kipling and Trix which will be out in November.
The book, which tells the story of Rudyard Kipling’s sister Trix, is already a prizewinner though, as winner of the Virginia Prize for Fiction.
Here’s the blurb:
A fictionalised life of Rudyard Kipling intertwined with that of his collaborative sister ‘Trix’, told in a series of historical narrative chapters from their traumatic childhood, when they were brought back from their beloved India and placed in the ‘care’ of a family in Southsea, until Kipling’s death in 1936. Taking in the sweep of Kipling’s early career in India, his marriage to an American and their time in Vermont, the novel explores his obsession with Rhodes and Southern Africa and of course his prolific writing career.
It describes the triumphs and tragedies of Kipling’s life along with Trix’s early success as a lady of letters. Following an unfortunate marriage, she becomes interested in psychic matters and automatic writing, unfortunately resulting in frequent bouts of mental illness. In old age, after all their sufferings, brother and sister meet for one last time at Batemans, Kipling’s country home.
I’ve been lucky enough to read some of it in draft form, and can vouch for the fact that it’s a great read as well as being thoroughly researched – Mary even bathed in Kipling’s bath! And appropriate that this is her debut into fiction because, although she has published many works of non-fiction, she says it was reading Kipling’s Jungle Book, in a small branch library in Harborne that offered her the first hint that there was a different, more exciting way to see the world.
Here are Mary’s Five Sentences:
When you were small, you wanted … to bake a cake for another 4 year old I didn’t like AND PUT POISON IN IT. My mother didn’t respond warmly to this plan. I felt crushed.
The one thing you can never resist is … a quick trip to Carole Ridley’s shop in Whitstable, to prowl along the rails.
You may not say it aloud but… I can’t help fancying Jeremy Clarkson
The last time you went ‘WOOP’ with excitement was … When my six year old grandson ran to fling his arms around me
Your five favourite words are … elucidate, mofussil, gremolata, bombazine, slither
Favourite writing place in Kent: sitiing high up on our balcony over the beach in Whitstable, with an A4 pad of lined paper on my knee.
A book about Kent or by a Kent writer you would recommend: ‘Dymchurch Flit’, one of the stories in Puck of Pook’s Hill by Rudyard Kipling, set in the mysterious landscape of Romney Marsh, tells how the Fairy people, ‘the people of the hills’, left England. Compelling and thought-provoking.
Thank you, Mary! Jeremy Clarkson, eh. Well, wonders never cease, and as a thank you for coming on, here’s Jeremy as close as I could get to slithering…