Interview With Colin Chappell


Welcome to my bi-weekly interview series. I’m pleased to introduce to you today an interview with dog enthusiast, thoughtful, and entertaining writer, Colin Chappell. He is often accompanied by his friendly and energetic dog Ray. In fact, Ray is one of Colin’s favorite topics. You can visit Colin on his blog: A Dogs Life? (Stories of Me and Him).


interview-colin-and-ray1
Credit: Colin Chappell

1. Please Tell Us A Bit About Yourself?

My name is Colin Chappell. When I was born, my parents were expecting a girl so, when I arrived, they showed great initiative by thumbing through the BBC Radio Times looking for male names. If Colin Yearsley (a classical pianist) had a second name, I would have probably had a second name also; my older sister did. I am originally from Peterborough (U.K.), and now live in Oakville, Ontario, Canada (on the outskirts of Toronto).

I was born immediately after WWII and moved around the U.K. a lot when I was young because both my parents were in the theater. My Dad designed and painted scenery, while my Mum worked in the costumes area.

The introduction of television decimated the demand for theater and my parents had to make some major decisions. Growing up, my Mum held down multiple jobs and my Dad came home only on weekends. He was working approximately one-hundred-miles away from where we lived. My Dad eventually decided to build his own house. He learned how to do this successfully from library books, visiting construction sites, and asking a ton of questions.


2. What Kind of Affect Has Your Childhood Had On You?

I learned to make the best of any situation, knowing it could always be worse. I learned to not be afraid to step out of my comfort zone; to swallow my pride and ask questions as necessary.

I wanted to be a locomotive driver, but was told that I couldn’t do this job by my Dad. I went to college to pursue a career as ‘Master’ of a cargo ship. I achieved a 2nd Class Honors Certificate and was welcomed into the Blue Star Line. I was ready to join ‘Scottish Star’ in Glasgow; however, I failed a medical exam which blocked my first chosen career path. This was my welcome to the world of adulthood and the realities of the world.


“I learned to make the best of any situation, knowing it could always be worse. I learned to not be afraid to step out of my comfort zone; to swallow my pride and ask questions as necessary.” – Collin Chappell


3. When Did You Being Writing and Blogging?

I have always enjoyed writing short pieces and songs, but they were always private and I rarely shared my work. I cannot recall how I discovered blogging. But I had already been adopted by my dog Ray and wanted to share our experiences. It was also an opportunity to write publicly which was appealing to me. My blog was officially launched in October, 2014.

Later, my desire to write was extended into a book about my first eighteen-months (pre-blog) with Ray. He made a huge impact on me and was nothing like any dog that I would have chosen to adopt. But Ray had a special appeal and after a few months, I loved him!


4. What Does Writing and Blogging Mean to You? Why Do You Write?

Writing is rewarding for many reasons. It allows me to express myself, to be as creative as I can, and to have some tangible evidence of my creativity and expression. No doubt there are psychological benefits to writing also. Poetry is a natural extension of writing because of my earlier days song writing; however, my blog is also my vehicle to present my poetry to the world.

Blogging is the corner stone of my literary endeavors because not only can I now share with the world, but I can receive feedback. I have access to links to bloggers and writers with similar interests and concepts. As well,  I am generally able to create a worldwide network of wonderful people. Over time I have developed friends around the world of all ages, cultures, religious beliefs (etc.) Now I have the pleasure of knowing many details about friends which go well beyond mere blogging.


” . . . [M]y desire to write was extended into a book about my first eighteen-months (pre-blog) with Ray. He made a huge impact on me and was nothing like any dog that I would have chosen to adopt. But Ray had a special appeal and after a few months, I loved him!” – Colin Chappell


interview-colin-and-ray2
Credit: Colin Chappell

5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write? Is There A Time of Day You Most Enjoy Writing?

Some of my inspiration and motivation comes from the world! From various events occurring which cause me to think because I need to know where I stand. It is important for me, to understand myself. To do this involves constant internal interrogation, until I can come up with a feasible rationale which supports my views.

Ray is also hugely inspiring. He is unlike any dog I have ever known. Just by watching him (which I do a lot) I’m invariably provided with the basis for a blog post. I also inspire and motivate myself. I am retired so have the luxury of as much time as I wish to allocate to blogging and writing but I do have many other interests.

There isn’t a particular time of day I enjoy writing more. Although, mornings and late evenings tend to be my most productive times. This is due more to convenience relative to other day to day activities. It’s not that I feel more particularly creative during these times.


7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?

I have two active projects at the moment:

My first priority is promoting my book: Who Said I was up for Adoption? All profits from this book go to the Humane Society whom rescued my beloved Ray. It’s hard to make the whole world aware of a book without investing large sums of money to market it. Self-promoting is more financially feasible, but a difficult and time consuming job.

My second priority is publishing a book of my poems. It is tentatively titled: Tina and Other Stories and could be available Spring 2017. My poetry book is ready to be published but some financial decisions have to be made.

I am uncomfortable making these choices until I have a better grasp of how Ray’s book is selling. Hopefully, I can make a decision within the next six to eight-weeks. I also have various other similar projects ‘on the back burner,’ but they will have to wait.


“Some of my inspiration and motivation comes from the world! From various events occurring which cause me to think because I need to know where I stand. It is important for me, to understand myself. To do this involves constant internal interrogation, until I can come up with a feasible rationale which supports my views.” – Colin Chappell 


8. Here is Colin’s book: Who Said I was up for Adoption?

interview-colin-book-cover
Credit: Colin Chappell

You can purchase Colin’s book from Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Indigo, Google Play, Nook, and IBooks. Here’s another link to Colin’s page where you can find links to all book sellers noted: HERE.


9. Can You Briefly Describe Your Publishing Process? Will You Continue With the Same Process in the Future?

I researched a number of leads before publishing and just as life in general — you get what you pay for. The inexpensive route (a relative term) dictated I take responsibility for areas of publishing I knew nothing about.

If my book was planned for purely local distribution, I would have chosen that route, but that was not my goal. I wanted to market my book to the world because dog lovers exist in every country. Most significantly, this book is a fundraiser for Ray’s Humane Society.

My compromise was to have a contract with FriesenPress. They provided their expertise in cover design, book layout, proofreading, overall suggestions, legalities, and ensuring Ray’s book was available to all major book retailers. Regrets? I have none, although, what I learned during this publishing process will reduce the cost of publishing my poetry book!


10. Do You Have A Particular Writing Process?

Blogging – I write from heart to keyboard, and then read, re-read, re-read, fine tuning the piece. Sometimes I will leave a post for a few hours and then read it again to get a fresh perspective. I like to plan to create ahead of time, but more often I end up creating immediately prior to posting. I will not hit the ‘Publish’ button unless I am absolutely happy with my post.

Book Writing – I use exactly the same process, especially with poetry. Reading a poem can often draw attention to a bad line or difficult rhythm. My intended book of poetry is being reviewed, although, it was completed well over six-months ago. Who Said I was up for Adoption? was completed over a nine-month period, but took an additional eighteen-months to polish well enough to publish.


“If my book was planned for purely local distribution, I would have chosen that route, but that was not my goal. I wanted to market my book to the world because dog lovers exist in every country. Most significantly, this book is a fundraiser for Ray’s Humane Society.” – Colin Chappell


11. Do You Prefer Certain Areas or Genres of Reading and Writing?

I have little time for reading fiction — JRR Tolkein being the exception. It’s not that I don’t enjoy fiction, but more that I want to understand more about people and the real world. I recently read a beautifully emotional ‘lost love’ poem. I was devastated to learn later the poem was pure fiction! I need to relate to the writer and I feel I cannot do that with fiction.


12. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?

Write… write… write.

Be honest to yourself.

Write… write… write.

Use blogging as much as you can because there is so much support out there in the blogging world for novice writers.

Write… write… write.

If you are pleased with what you write, then what other people think of it is secondary.

Write… write… write.

If you are not pleased with what you write, you need to spend time finding why you are unhappy with it. Once you have identified the problem, you can start working on the solution — Very logical!


“I recently read a beautifully emotional ‘lost love’ poem. I was devastated to learn later the poem was pure fiction! I need to relate to the writer and I feel I cannot do that with a fictional piece of writing.” – Colin Chappell


13. Is There Anything Else You Would Like To Share Pertinent to Yourself or Writing?

I have volunteered in numerous diverse places over the years, and every position I held was valuable education for me. It was valuable both because of the work involved and in the learning it provided me.

I support a number of charitable organizations which help people regain their self-respect and of course, I support animal rescue organizations. Life has been and still is, a wonderful education; however, one must always participate in life to see any results.


14. Do You Have Any Favorite Blogs You Like to Follow? What Do You Like About Them?

I really do not have favorite blogs, but I do enjoy more philosophical blogs as they are thought provoking. Dog related blogs are interesting simply because I can relate to the topics presented. Any post I read that promotes a positive mental attitude maintains my attention. In a world which seems to celebrate negativity, we need as many positive vibes as possible!


15. Here is a Piece From Colin’s Blog, One of His Favorite Poetic Verse Posts:

“Skeeta’s Legacy”

By Colin Choppell

*****

Skeeta was a Siamese cat

Of distinction so we thought

She was rather unlike her breed

Friendly and quite large

I had known a few Siamese

But none had traits like these

*****

She would ride in our car

On top of the front seats

Swaying whenever I braked

Forwards and backwards

Sideways on the turns

We would laugh until we ached

*****

Then one day she clearly had changed

Her clean toilet habits had gone

Something was wrong we were sure

She used to be meticulously clean

A test revealed leukemia

With no treatment. No cure

*****

After living with us

For only three months

Dearest Skeeta was put to sleep

But she left her mark

Indelibly on my heart

With memories that I would keep

*****

She went to a better place

To join her kind and be without pain

Where cats are happy and free

To be as I’d want her to be

But Skeeta left a legacy behind

Unbeknownst at the time to me

*****

Many years later when Ray moved in

He tested positive for heart worm

After only three months in our home

What were our options? What to do?

A very serious condition

And he could not fight it alone

*****

We could return him, put him to sleep

Or do nothing which would eventually kill him

What would make the most sense?

For such a short and unhappy life

An expensive course of treatment

Could we justify the expense?

*****

The treatment he may not survive

But shouldn’t we at least try?

For perhaps survive he would

Shouldn’t we give him a chance?

A chance for his life to fulfill?

To live out his life being loved?

*****

Euthanizing would give him peace

Not 3 years old with an unknown past

His early life seemed hard and alone

Surely a dog has a right

To fight for his life

In a warm and caring home?

*****

To return him to the shelter

Raised problems of another sort

Who would adopt a very sick Ray?

Who would want his vet bills?

Who would open their home?

Who would invite him to stay?

*****

During these dilemmas I heard a voice

Reminding me of Skeeta long ago

With no hope of a cure in sight

How she was put down

Her future sealed by a disease

That cheated her out of her life

*****

But this time was different

Ray did have a chance

If treatment started right away

The decision just had to be made

And then hope for the time

When once again he could play

*****

Ray will never know

What influenced his future

Or how it came to be

That a cat, of all creatures,

May have saved his life

That was Skeeta’s legacy.


16. Additional Posts:


Thanks so much to Colin for sharing with us his book, poetry, love for Ray, and his experience in life and writing. I loved discovering he both searches inside himself to find the right answers and also engages with the world to learn and discover the things he needs to know. His love of learning and passion for volunteering is something we can all aspire to.


If you would like to be featured as a writer and blogger in my bi-weekly interview series please reach-out to me on my contact page. Thanks for reading and see you in two-weeks!


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

 

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Part 3: Never Again – Jolene and Scott’s Past.


Please read Part 2 of Never Again here.

Part 3: Never Again – Jolene and Scott’s Past

” Do I look gorgeous Auntie? Do you think he’ll like me?” Jolene asked her Aunt Cathy who had become her guardian after her Mother passed away.

Cathy observed the stunning Jolene. “If only I still looked half as pretty as you look, I’d be married right now.” Jolene grinned.

“You’re beautiful Auntie. Any man would be lucky to have you. I had to get the looks from somewhere and it wasn’t from my Mom. You could be a Cougar.” Jolene joked. ” I’m sure you could find a man ten or fifteen years younger than you, with your timeless looks.” Cathy laughed.

” I had your Uncle Henry before Cancer claimed him. I haven’t had it in my heart to replace Henry. He was my one and only. I wish you could have known him Jolene. He was something in his day.” Cathy mused.

“Scott is my one, Auntie.” Jolene said with a soft sigh as she floated down the stairs in a soft pink skirt and black tank top. Cathy hoped Scott wasn’t  Jolene’s ‘one,’ — she had heard rumours of his sleaziness from some of the other ladies with girls Jolene’s age. But what could Cathy say. Jolene would be heart broken if she couldn’t date Scott after all this time crushing on him. 

A handsome young man in a suit, with brown eyes and dark hair, stood in front of an expensive car waiting for Jolene. Scott had a careless manner about him that made Cathy instantly dislike him.

—–

Jolene was thrilled to be out on a first date with Scott. She had loved him since she was twelve-years-old. Even when her skin was breaking out, when she wore geeky clothes, and had ugly glasses, Jolene adored Scott. It had taken time for Scott to notice Jolene. Jolene knew the affect she had on men these days. At seventeen-years-old, she finally had the boy of her dreams and they were holding hands as he drove them to the movies and then out for some wine.

” You look fabulous, Jolene.” Scott complimented her. Jolene felt herself blush. She never blushed.

“You’re pretty good yourself you know,” she told Scott, trying to be cool. He grinned and said:

“Of course I’m good. I’m hot! Every girl wants me, but you are the only one lucky enough to have me. I have wanted you forever, Jolene. Since I saw your sweet ass walk into Math class in grade ten. We make sense together. We’re the Homecoming King and Queen. I’m the MVP football quarterback and you’re the head cheerleader. Tonight is only the beginning of you and I. You’re so lucky to have me.”

Jolene didn’t think too much about what Scott said to her most of the time. She didn’t notice how the majority of what he said was self-centred and he wasn’t much interested in getting to know Jolene beyond what was skin deep. Jolene pretended to never notice how Scott had planned out their life, and didn’t include her wants or needs in his plans.

Jolene also was blind to Scott’s filandering. She never knew Scott made  plans with other girls. Scott began doing this after Jolene had graduated high school and her Auntie Cathy had allowed Jolene to start modeling full time. Eventually, Jolene wanted to go to fashion school. But Scott thought Jolene would be too busy looking after their children for her to go to school. Maybe she could do that when the kids were older, Scott said. For now he liked having a known model on his arm.

When Jolene turned twenty-one,  Scott and her were still a couple talking about becoming engaged. Jolene modelled all over France and she was away from Scott too often for her liking. Scott was working on finishing his degree in Business Management and he didn’t miss Jolene much when she was travelling on a modelling shoot. Scott worked part-time as a salesman in Marketing for his father’s company. He was kept busy attending classes, working for his Dad, and having trysts when Jolene was away working.

—–

Jolene was nervous to see Scott when she returned from a modelling gig in Paris after Scott had graduated. Jolene had exciting news to tell Scott, but she wasn’t sure he’d be as happy as she was about the good news.” I have a surprise for you,” Jolene told Scott on her cell phone.

” A surprise?” Scott said, “Will I like this surprise? Does it have anything to do with you and me naked, in bed all night.” Jolene giggled.

“It’s a wonderful surprise, I promise. We can celebrate in bed later. Meet me at the beginning of the pathway to the Chateau at 7:00 pm and I’ll tell you.”

Scott arrived later than 7:00 pm, but he walked with Jolene onto the pathway that lead to the Chateau at one end and to a beach at the other end. Scott held Jolene in his arms and kissed the top of her blond hair when they were at the middle of the walkway.

“So, what’s my surprise, chere?” Scott asked Jolene teasing her ear with his lips. Jolene could hear the waves lapping sloppily against the rocks on the side of the path. It was a distraction for Jolene as she tried to tell Scott she was pregnant.

“Well,” Jolene said, turning around in Scott’s arms. “I think this is going to make you happy. It’s the next step in our relationship. I know your Dad wants grandchildren soon.”

“G-G-Grandchildren?” Scott rasped. “What do you mean by that Jolene? Tell me right now.” Scott demanded.

“I’m pregnant, Scott” Jolene shrieked showing him the pregnancy test excitedly.Scott blinked at her.

“Aren’t you thrilled? We’re going to be parents.” Jolene said. Scott stopped her celebrating with a heavy hand on her shoulder, holding Jolene still so he could have a serious talk with her.

“It’s okay Jolene. I know you’re pretending and trying to act like you want this baby. But we’re too young to have kids. I want them someday but not now. It’s too soon and I’ve graduated with my Business Degree only recently. I’m starting my Masters Degree in Business right away. Because I have experience working in my Dad’s company, the University allowed me to start early.” Scott said ignoring Jolene’s eyes which were starting to tear up and looking up at him pleading.”Here, take my credit card. Get this baby taken care of. It’s only a few weeks old right?”

Jolene went absolutely still. “How could you not want a baby, even if it’s only a few weeks old. That’s our child, Scott?”

Scott gave a half-hearted attempt at a comforting smile.”It will be okay Jolene. I can come with you if you want to the clinic and we’ll get you sorted out. It won’t hurt too much. Many girls end up with unwanted babies and receive abortions, it’s safe for the Mothers.Don’t worry, we’ll have kids in the future. Just not when I’m in Grad school. Maybe when I’m higher up in my Dad’s company and when you’re not such a highly desired model in France.”

Jolene was aghast and her crying quickly turned into sobs. She grabbed Scott’s credit card and ran down the pathway to the Chateau, ignoring Scott’s pleas to come back. Scott tried to reach Jolene by phone or by visiting the Chateau many times. When she finally picked up the phone a month later ready to talk to Scott, he only asked about the baby. Jolene lied to Scott and said she had had the baby aborted, that her Aunt had paid for it. Jolene mailed Scott back his credit card.

Two-months later, Scott broke up with Jolene for good. She had been avoiding him because her stomach had begun to show she was pregnant. There relationship had been in shambles ever since she told Scott she was pregnant. 

“It’s for the best Jolene,” Scott said to her over the phone. “You’re away modelling most of the time and I hardly get a chance to see you. We had a good run, but you and I are not meant to be together for life.”

Jolene was angry and spiteful to Scott. She had seen him around with a lovely red-headed girl, who was delicate and acquiescing. “You only broke up with me so you could be with Katrina. She’s not half as pretty as me. You’re only going out with her because I’ve had issues with you lately and Katrina’s family has a mountain full of money. Your Dad likes Katrina because her father is best friends with him.” Scott laughed at Jolene’s spite.

“You’re just jealous Jolene. You’re not half the woman my Katrina is, not half as caring or beautiful,” Scott said meanly. Jolene hung up on Scott and she didn’t talk to him for years. 

Jolene told her Aunt Cathy about the baby. Cathy was sad about the situation between Jolene and Scott but she loved her niece as if Jolene were her own daughter. Jolene gave birth to Kasia eight-months after she last saw Scott on the pathway to the Chateau. Jolene loved her baby with all her heart. She loved Kasia more than she had ever loved anyone else. It made Jolene tear up when she thought about the fact that Scott had wanted her to have an abortion. Kasia was the best thing in Jolene’s young life.

Jolene never told Scott about Kasia but she never stopped loving Scott, despite the fact that Aunt Cathy and Jolene’s few girlfriends, pointed out what a loser Scott had always been. It didn’t lessen Jolene’s feelings for Scott. She loved him the only way she knew how to love a man.

Years went by. When Kasia was three, Jolene was battling Kasia’s sleeping issues. Kasia was having nightmares and refusing to sleep in her own bed. Jolene reassured Kasia her nightmares weren’t reality and sang Kasia to sleep, eventually in Kasia’s own bed. Jolene thought about Scott as her daughter retreated into dreamland. Seeing parts of Scott in her daughter’s appearance, and Kasia’s strong-willed personality, made Jolene feel as if she would always have a piece of Scott with her. At the same time she Jolene detested Scott, who had made contact with Jolene again and occasionally bothered her, wanting to meet up with Jolene.

When Jolene was twenty-eight and Kasia was seven, Jolene had had enough of Scott and his constant interference in her life. Part of Jolene still loved Scott, but a bigger part of her was offended by his mere existence. Scott wanted to have an affair with Jolene. Jolene refused because she still believed Scott was her’ one and only.’ Jolene thought Scott should divorce Katrina and marry her. Scott had thought she was hilarious for demanding such action from him. How could he abandon his daughter Sara, he asked Jolene. Just like you abandoned Kasia, Jolene thought.

Jolene in hindsight, believed Kasia should have been Scott’s true firstborn. Kasia should have been loved and cherished by a loving mother and a father as Sara was. Jolene avoided Scott as much as possible but he always reached out to her.

Feeling as if she was going to lose it, Jolene seized her chance to leave Nice, and the countryside in France where the Chateau was. Jolene left, barely telling her Aunt her plans. Jolene told Cathy the bare minimum (incase Scott contacted Cathy), that Jolene was going to live, work, and go to fashion school in Canada. She had modelling jobs lined up and a scholarship for a post-secondary school in Toronto. The institution had daycare and was near a elementary school.

Jolene packed up her daughter Kasia, taking only what they could fit in two large suitcases and two small carry-ons. Jolene isolated herself and Kasia from her worried Aunt Cathy with sorrow. Eventually, she did reach out to her with a picture of Kasia or the two of them, every now and then.

But she had escaped Scott and that was the best gift Jolene could give her young daughter: A life free from Scott’s selfish narcissism. She would never tell Scott that Kasia, the baby she was supposed to abort, had lived. Although, she knew someday she would have to tell Kasia the truth about her father.Jolene dreaded that day already. 

——-

Presently, Jolene paced the hallways of the Chateau trying to walk off her anger towards Aunt Cathy for telling Kasia who her father was before Jolene was ready. She felt betrayed. Jolene could feel that feeling of familiar dread making her stomach churn. Kasia must never meet Scott. Not until she was thirty at the very least. . . 

I’m having many ideas from the original prompt. So, please stay tuned for a Part 3 in the near future.

——-

©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved.