25 February 2012

Book Savvy Spotlight on Louise Wilkinson

Bringing you exclusive interviews with authors featured in the Book Savvy Newsletter.
 Our Guest is Louise Wilkinson*
Enjoy the interview.

Q1. Can you tell us about yourself?
I am a retired history teacher who taught history in a secondary school in Stockton-on-Tees for nineteen years. I am 50 years old and have had to take ill health retirement. I have an old dog, a young dog and two cats.

Q2. What inspired you to write the book 'The Kipper Patrol'?
My research into the Auxiliary Air Force, and my own personal interest in local history. To be honest, the book was a spin off from some research I had been doing for an MPhil research degree. As part of the research I had interviewed a great many veterans from auxiliary squadrons who did not really understand what an MPhil was, but who wanted me to write a book, so the idea for the book came from them really.

Q3. You have written about a period in history that is about 60 years ago, how can you be so sure that the recollections are accurate?
My book is written primarily about 608 Squadron. They were a part-time squadron of volunteers who gave up their weekends and one night a week to train to be pilots or ground crew. In order to make sure that the book was accurate, I interviewed about 33 members of the squadron who served in the 1930s and a similar number of veterans who served between 1946 and 1957. The book contains most of their recollections, as well as a potted history of the squadron.

Q4. Have you always wanted to be a writer, why did you start writing?
I have always thought about writing, and I suppose as my research was drawing to a close, I thought a spin off from that would be a good idea.  I am now in the process of completing a PhD on the Auxiliary Air Force as a whole and am sure that this will be published as well. I believe that it is very important that people understand what happened in the past and why the past has helped to shape our future.

Q5. What are your favourite aspects of writing? And the most challenging?
I find the actual collecting of the information to be very interesting. The most challenging part is making the information interesting to others and presenting it in a way that others will want to read.

Q6. What would you like people to take away from reading 'The Kipper Patrol'?
I would like people to become aware of the commitment and bravery of the men who gave up their free time to serve their country. Their attitudes and the way in which they supported each other. I think they were amazing men who helped to shape the way our world is today.
I really want people to think about the patriotism of these men, and the fact that they were prepared to give up their time to volunteer to serve their country. I think their commitment to their squadron was incredible, and reflects the attitude of most people during that time, something which I think has been lost in people today.

Q7. What are your interests when you are not writing?
When not writing I spend my time swimming, going to the gym, walking my dogs and being with my family.

Q8. What steps have you taken to promote your book?
As soon as my book was published, I contacted all of the local newspapers and the local radio stations. I did an interview for the local press which appeared in the local evening paper and also in the free paper which is delivered to every house in the area. I did an interview for the local radio station as well. I contacted all of the local bookshops to make sure that my book was available locally as well as online. I also produced postcards which have a picture of my book on them and a short synopsis of its content, and I sent them to all of the people that I had interviewed so that they knew the book was in print and how to get hold of a copy.

Q9. If you had to pick just one book marketing tool that you've used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?
The most effective way to promote my book was to use the local press and to get it into local shops such as WH Smiths. This ensured that it was widely available.

Q10. Do you do more promoting online or offline and which do you prefer?
I prefer promoting offline. Book signings and newspaper interviews are far more effective I think.

Q11. Who will this book appeal to, what is its target audience?
My book will appeal to local historians, military historians and those who have an interest in the air force as a whole. Its target audience is anyone who is interested in local history or history in general.

Q12. Why would you buy a copy of 'The Kipper Patrol'?
The book provides a real insight into life in an auxiliary squadron in the mid twentieth century. I would buy it because it is a really informative and good read.

Q13. What kind of reactions and reviews have you received about your book?
I have had an amazing amount of positive feedback about the book, and I have been inundated by people who have some connection to either 608 squadron or Thornaby Aerodrome, who need some help in locating information about a relative who was killed or injured during that period. I know that the book has helped many people learn about distant relatives and I always answer emails sent to me via the publishers and do additional research to help people out.

Q14. Are you concerned about the effect of e-books on traditional books? 
It would be sad if all books became electronic. There is something about buying a new book and working your way through it. Having said that, I have a kindle myself which I use to read some books. I also buy traditional books as well. I think e-books will appeal to some people but not to all.

Q15. Do you have other books in the pipeline?
Yes, when I finish my PhD research I will write a book about the Auxiliary Air Force as a whole, its role and its impact on Britain between 1920 and 1957. I am also thinking about other ideas for the future.

Q16. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Give it a go. Writing is a very rewarding pastime. Pneuma Springs are very supportive publishers. The sense of achievement is huge when you see your book for the first time. To date it has been my greatest achievement.

Thank you for your time. We wish you every success in your writing career.

*Louise Wilkinson was brought up in Guisborough, and has worked in the Women's Royal Army Corps, in a local government and as a teacher. She was awarded a first class honours degree in Humanities and later undertook a Master of Philosophy research degree, researching Thornaby Aerodrome and 608 Squadron. The Kipper Patrol was written as a thank you to all of the men and the families who gave up their time to talk to her and to share their photographs and their memories.

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* Book Savvy is an e-newsletter of Pneuma Springs Publishing, featuring news and information about all published books and new releases with highlights about the authors behind the books. Look out also for helpful resources e.g. blogs, book reviews and of course, discounts, special offers etc.