Pauline Hayton was born in 1946 in the north east of England and worked as a probation officer in her hometown of Middlesbrough before emigrating to the United States in 1991. She and her husband currently live in Naples, Florida with four abandoned cats who adopted them.
She started writing in 1996, after listening to her father’s war stories and reading his wartime diaries. She found them so interesting, she felt compelled to write her first book, A Corporal’s War.
Researching for this book, she discovered the true WWII story of a remarkable woman, Ursula Graham Bower and wrote Naga Queen. While researching Naga Queen she became friends with Ursula’s daughter through whom Hayton became involved in bettering the lives of the Naga tribes in north east India. This also led to a new book,Chasing Brenda, a lighthearted adventure in Nagaland, written after the author visited Magulong village where she and her husband support a school.
Myanmar:In my Father’s Footsteps. A Journey of Rebirth and Remembrance is a travelog of a trip taken in 2006. After recovering from two battles with cancer, Hayton wanted to do something to make her feel alive and decided to visit the places where her father fought the Japanese in Burma during WWII. It was a healing, life-changing journey for her.
Her latest book, If You Love Me, Kill Me, is based on the author’s painful, personal experiences while caring for her elderly parents.
You can purchase her books by going to her Amazon Author page http://www.amazon.com/Pauline-Hayton/e/B003YGSLJY/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Joanne: Pauline, it is a pleasure to have you on Author Interview Friday. You say you never intended to be a writer, yet you have five books published. How did that happen?
Pauline: Thanks for having me, Joanne. It’s true. I still don’t enjoy being a writer; it’s such hard, lonely work, but the stories keep coming into my head, and I need to share them for other to enjoy them. I started writing when my dad began to tell me his WWII stories. I was 55 at the time and was living in Florida after emigrating from England. I thought them so interesting that I wanted to write them down for my grandchildren to read. They had only ever known their grandfather as a doddery old man. By reading his stories, they would discover that in his younger days he was a dynamic leader and a brave hero. His memory was detailed and incredibly accurate when he was telling me of his experiences at Dunkirk. Then he brought out the tattered diary he wrote when he was sent to India, and I discovered there were detailed records available at the Public Records Office in London and at the Imperial War Museum in London that I used to describe the bigger picture in which my dad’s personal story was taking place. The project blossomed into a book.
Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?
Pauline: I took a Writer’s Digest novel writing course which helped a lot and read books on writing. Before that, the only writing I had done was as a probation officer when I wrote reports about defendants for the courts.
Joanne: How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?
Pauline: It took three years. After almost 40 rejections, I self-published. My dad was growing old and before he died, I wanted him to hold his book in his hands.
Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?
Pauline: No. When I was researching for “A Corporal’s War”, I came across another amazing WWII story of a young British woman who was living with the Naga tribes of NE India, doing anthropological work. She was recruited by a clandestine unit of the British Army, V Force, to spy on the Japanese who were expected to invade India. She received a medal for her activities. I knew immediately that her story would be my second book, which I called Naga Queen. Writing this book changed my life.
Joanne: Naga Queen changed your life? How so?
Pauline: I became friends with Trina, the Naga Queen’s daughter, when I researched her mother’s private papers. Trina moved to New Delhi, India and became involved in the neglected Naga tribes’ welfare. She told me how sad she was that one village school looked like it was going to close, because it was so remote and most of the villagers were so poor, they could not afford to pay teachers to teach the 100 school-age children in the village. That village was Magulong, the school was Mount Kisha English School. This village was Ursula Graham Bower’s (The Naga Queen’s) favorite Naga village, and it was where she married her British Army officer husband in a true Naga ceremony. In 2007, my husband and I took on the job of sponsoring the school. Now all the children in the village are being educated. We have been there twice. The village is like paradise, well worth the eleven hour journey from the nearest town of any size, in a four-wheel drive vehicle, over crumbling mountain roads, followed by a five hour hike up a mountain. The villagers treat us like family, and indeed to us, they are our extended family.
Joanne: That is a fascinating story and I can see how those people have changed you forever. Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, If you Love Me, Kill Me, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore and what is the premise to the story?
Pauline: It would probably be in general fiction. I hope If You Love Me, Kill Me will help anyone going through tough times caring for a loved one to forgive themselves for not being perfect in their care. All you can do is your best. I didn’t have a support system during the years I cared for my parents. Get one in place before you become so worn out that you don’t have the energy to do it.
Joanne: Let’s talk a little about the writing process. Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?
Pauline: No. After numerous rejections, enough to paper a wall, and being a cancer survivor who wanted to ensure my stories were available for others to enjoy, I self-published. I don’t waste time trying to deal with regular publishers.
Joanne: What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?
Pauline: I published through Create Space, a part of Amazon.com. I am delighted with their service and would highly recommend them.
Joanne: Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?
Pauline: I wrote If You Love Me, Kill Me in first person. It is a very personal story interwoven with some fiction, based on my 7 years of caring for my elderly parents.
Joanne: Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s.
Pauline: I generally write in third person and usually stay in chronological order. However, I wrote my dad’s story, A Corporal’s War first of all in third person then rewrote it as a memoir because, in first person, it felt more personal and poignant. If You Love Me, Kill Me I also wrote in first person for the same reason. As in If You Love Me, Kill Me, the book I am currently writing will have some flashbacks.
Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
Pauline: Building the story itself is the easiest part, especially since a psychic told me I had to write about my own life in order to have success in my writing. I’m afraid I laughed at her and dismissed such an idea. I couldn’t imagine anyone being interested in my life. Nevertheless, I wrote Chasing Brenda and If You Love Me, Kill Me, two stories based on personal experiences, as is the book I am currently working on. Once I decide to write a particular story, I let the idea ruminate in my subconscious and after several weeks, the storyline and title suddenly appear. Then I start pounding my keyboard. I find writing the synopsis and outline difficult and ask my writing friends to advise me about how to improve and tighten them up.
Joanne: What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?
Pauline: Marketing is my weakness. (Laughs) In my twenties, I once took a vocational guidance course as I had no idea, and therefore no direction, on what to do in my life. I scored the lowest marks possible for sales and marketing. The only things I do are to tell my Facebook friends when I have published a new book, hand out bookmarks I have designed when I meet people who are interested in my writing and ask Tom Witt of the Naples Daily News to review my books. I must say I have noticed my Amazon.com sales are slowly increasing in a few countries, which I assume is from word of mouth advertising.
Joanne: What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Pauline: Don’t let the big picture of writing a novel make you freeze. Start with a vignette or a scene and build from there.
Joanne: I too was the primary care giver of my father, so I can relate to this story. I know many others will find your book encouraging and helpful when they take on this task so foreign to most of us. Can you share a few paragraphs from If You Love Me, Kill Me, to wet out appetite?
I half carried and half dragged her into her bedroom and laid her on the bed. Her left side seemed paralyzed.
“I won’t be a minute. I’m going to call 911.”
Waiting for the ambulance, I held her hand, stroked her hair—and silently cursed God.
How cruel can you be, you sick bastard? She’s blind, deaf, can’t walk, and now you’ve given her a stroke! Couldn’t let her die peacefully in her sleep, could you? No, you just have to keep heaping on the shit. I despise you!
The paramedics arrived, and I took them to Mum’s room.
“I think she’s had a stroke.”
They took in her distorted face, asked questions, and generally agreed it looked like a stroke.
“Which hospital do you want us to take her to?”
I was flummoxed. I hadn’t been expecting the question, thinking the paramedics would make that decision. I was too distraught to think straight.
“I don’t know.”
“The Community Hospital has the best reputation for treating heart and stroke patients,” said one paramedic.
“Oh no, I don’t want her to go there!” I blurted out. “They killed my father.”
He looked at me questioningly.
“They infected him, and he died,” I said.
“It’s where I’d take my mother,” the paramedic persisted. “It will give her the best chance.”
Overwrought, I kept looking at my mother and back to the paramedic not knowing the best thing to do. Close to tears, I surrendered my power and acquiesced to his suggestion. They quickly gathered her up and carried her from the house.