Lorna Sixsmith has written three books: Would You Marry A Farmer?, How To Be A Perfect Farm Wife and An Ideal Farm Husband. The latter was published in September and she won the Best Nonfiction Book in the Irish CAP Indie Awards with her second book.
As you may remember, I reviewed her previous books here and today I’m delighted to interview her about her recent publication.
Lorna has also provided a copy of her new book for one lucky reader to win, but before I share the details of how to enter, let’s first ask Lorna a few questions about Irish farmers and farming …..
Interview With Lorna Sixsmith:
Lorna, it seems you had to do quite a lot of research for your latest book. What methods did you use?
Well, they say to write about what you know and I had quite a lot of the information stored in my head from studying Irish history years ago and from my own observations and experiences of living on a farm.
However, I also spent many enjoyable hours using the online resource of Irish Newspaper Archives and chatting to farmers, both online and offline. Many were very good to provide responses to questions.
I also read a number of farming memoirs and research books, my favorite of which is Irish Farming Life by Mervyn Watson and Jonathan Bell.
The historical detail provides a good basis for our understanding of farming lives.
Was this difficult to do?
I enjoyed it enormously and it’s probably the easiest and most enjoyable part of writing the whole book. I found some real gems.
The search for “an ideal husband” turned up lots of references to Oscar Wilde but I also found a number of articles where women debated the merits of the ideal husband and how to shape him into one!
According to an article in 1949, the ideal husband was a civil servant and I quoted many of the reasons the writer provided but I extended them to explain to husbands of today how they could learn from the past and really impress their wives.
I also found a number of personal advertisements which were humorous as well as demonstrating the criteria used in selecting a partner. Not only was a dowry important but so was religion and often references from a parish priest or bank were required.
Did you find out anything that really surprised you?
When writing the section on “proposing marriage with pizzazz”, I wondered if women preferred to receive the ring at the time of the proposal or go shopping with him afterwards.
I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting the former as being a very practical person and not having had a clue about rings when we got engaged, I imagined her loving the ring and it fitting perfectly as being something that only happens in films.
However, on asking the question on my Facebook page, I discovered that many women did receive the engagement ring when he proposed, yes; they did love it and wouldn’t have had it any other way.
So, based on that research, I was able to provide advice on whether he should or should not buy the ring before proposing.
What response are you getting to the books?
I think people are often pleasantly surprised at the historical references and how it compares the past to the present. Social historians have reviewed it and just last week, I received a letter from a lady telling me she has used my books when teaching her Women’s Studies course.
The main response is one of hilarity though. People tell me that they read sections out to the rest of the family and everyone has a good laugh as the story reflects on something in their own lives.
I met a farmer at a conference recently and he was able to quote lines from my second book to me!
I was very excited some time ago to hear that a farmer used my first book, Would You Marry A Farmer?, along with a bottle of champagne to propose to his girlfriend. I love to hear stories like that.
What are the three main advantages and disadvantages of self publishing compared to traditional publishing?
I’ve self published all three books and would love to publish one with a publisher now – if only to compare both methods!
For me, self-publishing has many advantages and these would include the relatively short time frame of getting a book onto the shelves compared to traditional publishing.
I also enjoy having control over every step and as I have a wonderful editor and a great illustrator, they make it very easy. I’ve been able to get my books stocked in the two Irish wholesalers which mean they are available in all Irish bookshops and I also have the freedom to supply it to numerous farm shops in the UK. Of course, I wouldn’t say no to having a publicist!
Was it difficult to include more serious topics such as pre-nuptials, succession, health and retirement into what is largely a humorous book?
It was certainly a challenge to make such serious topics entertaining but they are such important issues within farming that I couldn’t leave them out.
I tried to be very matter of fact within those sections to emphasize the humor in ordinary situations and yes, some headings say it as it is such as “how to farm with family without killing each other” which demonstrates that while a family farming together might sound very cozy, it does have its difficulties.
Adding illustrations to the book served to increase the humor too.
Now that the trilogy is complete, what is next?
I have a list of books I’d like to write but am going to focus on a humorous novel next. It will have a farm setting!
I’m also researching a girls boarding school and will co-author a social history of the school, focusing on 1915-1975.
Where To Buy Lorna’s Books:
You can purchase Lorna’s books directly from her website.
They are also available on Amazon.
One lucky winner will win a copy of Lorna’s book, An Ideal Farm Husband.
To enter just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Monday, December 12th, 2016.
Any comment will do. What you write does not affect your chance of winning, but if you need inspiration why not share your farming story, or your ideas about the ideal husband.
A winning comment will be chosen randomly. Remember to leave your e-mail so that I can contact you should you win. Your e-mail won’t be published, just used to contact our lucky contestant for mailing of the prize.
The winner will be announced on Monday, December 12th, 2016, at the bottom of this blog post.
You may check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstakes’ entries by clicking here.
Wishing Lorna continued success with this wonderful farming trilogy and may the beauty and tranquility of the Irish countryside where she lives, bring her inspiration for many more books and novels to come.
Update – Winner Chosen:
Good news. Our winner has been chosen using the randomized “Pick Giveaway Winner” WordPress plug-in.
Congratulations to …..
I’ll send our winner a quick e-mail to let her know about her lucky win.
Thanks to everyone who joined in and entered this little giveaway. Wishing Lorna continued success with this wonderful trilogy of books dedicated to Irish farmers, and may she continue to find inspiration for her writing from her experiences of farming life in County Laois.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)