Friday, July 27, 2012

Apropos of Nothing: Vickie Johnstone Answers 5 Questions

Vickie Johnstone lives in London, UK, where she works as a freelance magazine sub editor and book editor. Her favorite things include reading, writing, films, the sea, art, animals, birdsong, rock music, white chocolate, nature, travelling and tea. If sleeping was an Olympic sport, she would be a contender. Vickie began self-publishing books in March 2011, and signed with Inknbeans Press in October of that year. She has three poetry books: Kaleidoscope (119 poems); Life’s Rhythms (316 haiku) and Travelling Light. Vickie is writing a series for younger readers about a magical cat called Kiwi and her two human chums. So far there are four books: Kiwi in Cat City; Kiwi and the Missing Magic; Kiwi and the Living Nightmare, and Kiwi and the Serpent of the Isle. Other titles include a comedy horror called Day of the Living Pizza and a quirky romantic comedy with walkies called 3 Heads & A Tail. One day, Vickie would like to live by the sea.

Say something about surprise parties.
Why haven’t I ever had one?! Bummer! Thinking about it, I’ve never had one and I’ve never been to one! They’ve all be planned. Ah, tell a lie, I did go to one. It was my boyfriend’s friend’s birthday. It was all arranged by his girlfriend. She had got a big cake, with lots of chocolate and cream. Now I’m hungry! We had to meet her outside their flat. On the way, we bought some booze. Then we waited for the other friends to turn up. When they did, we tiptoed up these really steep stairs – with me filming from the back with my camera phone and giggling – to the top, and then down a corridor, and then into the flat. Birthday boy was sitting with his back to us, watching TV. He spun round, expecting the usual and got a butcher’s of all us, all grinning like idiots, and his girlfriend holding a big cake. Then we started singing “Happy birthday” in Polish, because he is. I only know the first bit, “Sto lat, sto lat” (which means 100 years), and then I have to go “La, la, la!” Anyway, safe to say, birthday boy was very shocked. We went to the pub later. It turned out to be a fun evening.

Tell about a secret desire that you have.
Ah, my secret desire would be to travel the world and just keep moving around, seeing something new every day. And then I’d settle somewhere warm without much rain (not London then…), by the sea and by a forest. Swimming with dolphins is another one, but I’m a poor doggie paddler!

Complete the sentence: “I wish all people would…”
Live together in perfect harmony. Then there would be no arguments, no wars, no gossips, etc, etc. Everything would go along quite happily. Eastenders would be very different for a start. So, perfect harmony is the thing I’d aim for if I ruled the world! This reminds me of a line from a song by the Wurzels, about a combine harvester, which is now stuck in my head, for better or worse.

'Cause I got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key
Come on now, let's get together
In perfect harmony
I got 20 acres and you got 43
Now I got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key.

She might well laugh.

I'll stick by you and give you all that you need
We'll have twins and triplets
I'm a man built for speed
And you know I'll love you darling
So give me your hand
Oh, the thing I want the most is all that acres of land.

My granddad used to play it in the car when I was young, along with ‘You’ve got more rabbit than Sainsbury’s’, by Chas and Dave.

Talk about your favorite childhood game.
This was Hungry, Hungry Hippo! It was a pretty basic game. It was made up of a plastic frame with four cute, colourful hippos in each corner with levers on their backs. You’d plonk these white marbles in the centre and then bang your hippo as hard as you could to eat as many marbles as possible. Whoever was the biggest piggy and ate the most was the winner. Simple but great. I loved it. Happy kids everywhere! I also loved Mousetrap, though it took a long time to set up and yet took seconds to play, and Kerplunk. Yes, I was easily pleased as a kid. I probably still would be if I could only get my hands on Hungry, Hungry Hippo!

Share a family ritual that has special meaning to you.
I live quite far away from family, so I don’t get to see them that often, especially with the price of train fares in this country! Groan. A family ritual? I’m not sure I can think of any here, so I guess it will be Christmas. That’s the time when I always go home. I think I’ve only missed two in my whole life. It’s like an unwritten family commandment: thou shalt return home to the family nest and stuff so much food in your mouth that you’ll have to roll your way home! I remember, as a kid, being terrified of the turkey! It just lay there with its stiff, bony legs in the air, waiting to be stuffed. Don’t mention those giblets that Mum had to pull out! Horrific! Actually, I think Dad got that glorious job. Now I make do with my Quorn log and veggies, and I’m as happy as a turkey that still has his giblets and is going gobble gobble round a field. My granddad would always fall asleep for exactly half an hour after eating. My grandma baked the best tarts and puddings ever – I’ve still never had pastry that’s better. And when I was little, my brother would always be up at the crack of dawn, ready for his presents. Sometimes he didn’t even go to sleep – he’d be alert, watching... In fact, though he’s three years younger, he was the one who had the sad duty of informing me that, in fact, Santa Claus didn’t exist – it was our mum! I think I may have cried!
Other rituals could include watching Eastenders (grimace!), trying to eat your dinner without feeding the dog who has rather big, brown soppy eyes, or watching the birds feeding in our garden. My parents have about three bird feeders joined together, and sparrows and starlings flock to them like it’s the best restaurant in town. And there’s a pond to make it all so romantic! And the whole scene is inches away from the kitchen window. Bill Oddie, eat your heart out!

To learn more about Vickie and her work, please visit:

Great stories, Vickie! I had a Hungry, Hungry Hippo game too – I loved it. Also, I think your dream location may be Belize…though it’s backed by jungle, not forest!

My next guest will be Kev Tomsett, another UK writer. I hope you’ll stop by in two days to see how he answers his five questions.

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  1. Hey, is this stalking or coincidence?

    Julie :)

  2. Very nice interview Susan and Vickie. I enjoyed it very much!

  3. Vickie, you're so funny! Great interview. Thanks Susan and Vickie.

  4. I love how Vickie is always so honest and happy! She inspires me!

  5. Thanks Julie, Jane, Ed and Nickie!
    I think I just have a strange brain :)
    Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting.
    Thanks also to Susan for inviting me on.
    Have a cool day & good luck with your writing! :)


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