New Novel Writer
John Morey - 'feel-good' romantic novelist from Blaby
Me and my best mate since we were 6 years old. Melv.
Here's the Wigston canal (the 'cut') from which I pulled Melv from the ice. It's all in my books.
Mrs Cherry's sweet shop on Sycamore Street - but before Mrs Cherry owned it.
The centre of Blaby village in 1931. The George Inn is now the Fox and Tiger, but a previous landlord - back in the day - allegedly took part in bare-knuckle fights held on Sunday afternoons behind the pub up the road, The Bulls Head.
You can see The Post Office on the corner and, opposite to that but out of camera shot to the left of the bloke standing in the road, was the original blacksmith's forge.
I started at this Blaby C of E School at five and a half years old. We lived about a mile outside of the village, on Hillview Nurseries, a market garden my dad founded after the war. He would take me to school on the cross-bar of his postman's bike until I was deemed old enough - at seven - to walk to and from school on my own.
The headmaster was Mr Backhouse who had also taught my elder sisters, 7 and 12 years earlier. He was over six foot tall, rode an enormous push bike which still looked too small for him, and he was ancient.
Next year he'd retired, to be replaced by Mr Dixon.
My first teacher was Miss Shields, young, blonde and beautiful. My lasting memory of her was picking my mum up to drive her in her red open-top sports car to vote (!).
Then came Miss Basham. (No, I'm not making it up.) She had a gruff voice and wore sensible shoes. Not sure who was next, but Mr Buxton came after him. He put me on the right wing in the school soccer team.
About the author - J S (John) Morey
To mis-quote that famous line from "Me and Bobby McGee", here we are "Looking just as faded as my jeans".
Well, it was taken some 60 years ago at Melv's wedding to Sue - and still going strong. The "other person" - to the right as you are looking at it - was and still is my best pal, Melv. He's a well-established poet in his own right, with a trio of poetry collections available on Amazon.
I just remember we had so much fun. Forgive me if I've forgotten most of the detail.
Other characters in my book are totally fictitious, composites of several people who did - and in some cases still do - exist.
Blaby is a real village, of course, in Leicestershire. It has three claims to fame:
1. It fed the nation with fresh home-grown tomatoes during the war years - thanks to 'The Blaby Special' variety being the only source - available at Shoults' Tomato Farm.
2. Just down the road (Grove Road) from The Tomato Farm, in neighbouring Whetstone, was the factory 'Power Jets' - later to be English Electric and then GEC - where Frank Whittle developed the first jet engine.
3. In the opposite direction as you leave Blaby lies Glen Hills where the (other!) famous author - Sue Townsend - was born.
I never met her despite their similarities in many ways. Notably:
She was inspired to create Adrian Mole after her fascination with Ronald Searle's character Nigel Molesworth. Whilst I was a regular visitor to the school library at lunchtimes to read this irreverent title, I wonder if Townsend did the same?
She and I both went to the same South Wigston High School. She went to the 'Girls' school and I, of course, went to the adjoining 'Boys'school, but at the same time, given that we were born within two weeks of each other!
Neither of our families seemed to be well-off during that period, so each of our father's had second jobs. Both as postmen. Did they know each other? We will never know.
I left Blaby in 1970 - eventually settling in Devon near to where my father and grandfather were born - but the place has never left me. The Sign of the Rose and, especially, The Black Rose of Blaby are the result of the spell of Blaby cast over me ever since. Both are works of romantic fiction, but there is some truth in both of these 'New Adult' parts of the four-book saga.
Both take place in the Leicestershire village of Blaby, before travelling south to Teignmouth, Plymouth and St Ives - all part of the 'Love should never be this hard' series.
Oh, and by the way, you can get a sense of the context for the period leading up to the story on my BLOG PAGE. The first feature was about the good old British pub but there is more serious help and advice on tackling some of writing and publishing's challenges.
I began writing romantic fiction novels at the insistence of my wife at the age of 74 and rewarded her by appointing her my copy-editor. Ha! Serves her right. Right?
More recently I have chosen revisionist westerns as my genre, but without the violence depicted in The Wild Bunch and subsequent films. I'm more Heartland (Lauren Brooke) with a touch of Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry).
I focus on the myth, legend and culture of the Lakota Sioux and in a sympathetic manner - a celebration - partly because my great grandfather met their most revered leader, Chief Sitting Bull.
I'm still writing - over a dozen offerings now in three years - but in a style I call 'feel-good fiction'.
I'm trying to balance this approach against so much misery on the world stage.
Wish me luck.
J S (John) Morey
I found the place on The Parade in Exmouth where my grandfather's tailor's shop once was, some 125 years ago.
I have been inside, stood in the same spot as my grandfather, and his father and - strange as it may seem - Chief Sitting Bull had also stood.
What did they talk about? My grandfather died before I was born, so I will never know.