A Good Home, Author's Homes, Personality Profile

At Home With Sally Cronin

 

Sally Cronin  makes me want to stand up and salute.

An icon among independent authors and bloggers, Sally is host to more than 32-thousand blog followers, supporter of hundreds of authors around the world, author of eleven books,  gardener and wife.

Blog Photo - Sally CroninMCU

She and her husband David live in Ireland.

But let’s start at their beginning.

“I was assistant manager of a hotel and took David’s booking for 10 days starting on September 16th.  I commented to one of the receptionists that I loved his accent and that I thought I would marry him… joking!

Blog Photo - david and sally

“He arrived and I organised some business meetings for him. He was due to leave on the 26th but booked in for another two nights. He invited me for a drink after work and we chatted for about an hour.

“He asked if I would have lunch with him the next day.  We had lunch and walked along a windswept beach in the rain. That evening, he met me after work with a Chinese takeaway and the next day he came to say goodbye. He confessed that he had booked the two extra nights so he could ask me out, because he had fallen for me right away.

“We married six weeks later on November 15th, 1980.”

~~

Blog Photo - Sally flowers

Since that remarkable beginning, Sally and David have lived in 17 houses — some rented, some bought and restored — in countries as varied as Sri Lanka, South Africa and Spain.

Each one has had a different location or character but all were home because we were living there. For me, home is where the heart is and that means David and me.” 

They recently returned to Ireland after several years in Spain. The two share a large home office.

Blog Photo - Sally Workspace

“I also love the kitchen-diner where I create meals and we entertain our family and friends. However, I have to say that I love our little library. Every time I walk through, I can see my collection of books from Wilbur Smith and other favourite authors.”

Blog Photo - Sally Library

Sally’s own books range from novels to non-fiction, sometimes inspired by her own life.

“My first book, Size Matters, was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70 kilo. I have written another ten books since then. I am an Indie author and proud to be one.” 

Blog Photo - Sally Book-covers-10x

Sally took a break from writing books when her mother became ill and died in 2012. A qualified nutritional therapist, she started her blog (Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life) “as a place to write about health, humour and any other subject that interested me.”

Her blog also provides a platform for other authors — a place where they’re introduced and their books promoted.

“After twenty years as an Indie author, I understand how difficult it can be to keep your latest book in the spotlight… Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing an author that I have promoted receiving a comment stating that ‘I have bought your book’. Job done.”

~~

Blog Photo - Sally garden

At home, Sally and David always seem to have something on the go. They’ve been working on the garden. And Sally’s new book, inspired by the couple’s return to Ireland, launches this spring. It’s the sequel to Tales from the Garden. 

Blog Photo - Sally Tales From the Garden - Cover

“Tales from the Irish Garden continues the story of Queen Filigree and her court as they seek exile in Ireland in the garden of the Storyteller. The stories are linked and fall into the four seasons, peopled by new characters, resulting in some tears and I hope quite a bit of laughter.”

Her own life has included personal disasters, triumphs and suprises. 

“Around every corner there has been the unexpected. I have pushed open some fascinating doors which led to where I am today.

“Although we are now well into our 60s, we still believe there are a few more doors to push open and a few more places to visit. For example, we love our current house, but in a few years it will be time to move on. As long as we are together, wherever we end up will be home.”

~~

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A Good Home, Author Interviews, Author's Homes, Gardening, Hilary Custance Green, Sculptor

At Home with Hilary Custance Green

Hilary Custance Green has many roles. She’s a daughter, wife, mother, author, sculptor, blogger and gardener.

It’s the gardener role that first caught my eye.

More specifically, it was her Japanese maple seedlings that caught my interest.

Blog Photo - Hilary Maple Seedlings in Pots

Hilary had written a blog post about growing Japanese maples from seed. Being a gardener ( and having failed to grow Japanese maples from seed),  I was impressed.

Hilary Custance Green

Hilary loves gardening, of course.  She brings both art and science to the task. (Did I mention she also has a doctorate in brain science?) 

She even had a knot garden, which I know from experience is not an easy thing to create. 

Blog Photo - Hilary Knot Garden 2

“I love all the phases of project work, creation, engineering, labour, completion and peer review. I am never happier than working to exhaustion on a big 3D piece of work, or weeding for hours in the garden.”

“As a teenager I dreamt of becoming Rodin or Michelangelo. It was not to be, but I spent twenty (mostly happy) years making large semi abstract sculptures and also, to earn a penny or two, portrait heads.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 2

“In both sculpture and writing, it is the crossfire of unrelated elements that makes the story.

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 1

“So this sculpture developed out of The Song of Hiawatha (Longfellow) and the sad time in my twenties when my boyfriend was drowned.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 3 boat

One of the recurring themes in all Hilary’s books is this question: What gives individuals strength in adversity?

By the time I met her through her blog, Hilary had already written three novels — Border Line, A Small Rain, Unseen Unsung — and was working on a special non-fiction book.

Each novel explores the question above, with themes of “love, grief, adventure, disability and both good and bad luck.”

Unseen Unsung by [Custance Green, Hilary]

“I hope to give readers something positive to take away as well as a hefty dash of the music and poetry I love so much.”

Blog Photo - Hilary workroom 2 and piano

Family and home are important parts of Hilary’s life.

“Home is where I have the wondrous fortune to be loved and feel safe,” she says.

“My husband Edwin and I both had parents with jobs that moved around. To give us a good education they sent us to boarding schools far from our homes.

“When we found this house, and had our two girls, we never wanted to move again and our children walked to school in the village.

Blog Photo - HCG Children

“When we outgrew the space, we built an extension (or two or three!).”

Blog Photo - Hilary Home

Hilary’s parents, Barry and Phyllis, went through great adversity during the second world war, and in  2016, she published a book about their experience. 

Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoirs and Letters from Home  is that book. Both acclaimed and very successful, it may well be her signature work so far.

Blog Photo - Hilary Book Cover Death Railway

“It includes the 68 men captured with Barry and their families back home in Britain, who kept in touch with Phyllis throughout the war. The real story is the amazing support these ordinary men and women gave each other in horrific and testing times.”

~~

Today, Hilary and Edwin’s daughters — Eleanor and Amy — are grown up with partners and lives of their own in other cities.  

Blog Photo - Hilary two daughters

Hilary too has been busy.

She has done many author presentations for her latest book, and is working on yet another. The work-in-progress is about “a brilliant, crazy woman, her concert pianist mother, their young, troubled and disabled biographer and a prickly young jazz pianist.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Workroom 1 with window

She and Edwin are also redesigning the garden.

Blog Photo - Hilary Garden in progress1

Blog Photo - Hilary Garden in progress2

Like everything else Hilary creates, one senses the finished products — book and garden — will be intriguing, powerful and beautiful.

Brava, Hilary!