Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Long-time friend and author, Liz Reeves...

... joins me on the blog today.  Hello and thanks so much for being here.  It's been quite a while since we last chatted about writing and I know you've been very busy...

AW  So, tell me what is your current release?
LR  “Sprotbrough: An Historical Perspective including An Oral History: From Rural Estate to Real Estate 1925-1964”
This is basically the story of the village I was born and grew up in from pre-history to the end of the time period stated in the title.  In 1925, the Sprotbrough Estate, which is 3 miles outside Doncaster in South Yorkshire, covering 3,627 acres, was sold following the double deaths of Lord and Lady Copley and the fact that their heir, Lord Cromwell, didn’t feel able to pay the double death duties due and maintain the estate.  At that time there were only 343 residents living in the village, their homes and livelihoods being dependant on the estate.  During the sale, entrepreneurs purchased large tracts of land and building began.  By 1965 the population had risen to 1014 and, when farmers began to sell land for more residential building in the 1960s and 70s, several new housing estates sprang up within the village bringing many more residents.
It therefore seemed important to capture the stories of those who were still alive, or who had family memories of that time, for future generations and newer residents who knew very little, if anything, about ‘their’ village.  After over a year of meetings, interviews and writing, the 186 page book has just been launched.
AW  What first got you into writing?
LR  I never set out to be a writer or gave it any thought whatsoever.  Though I disliked making up stories for essays, English was perhaps one of my better subjects at school so I decided to train as a Secretary. I had several long-term jobs, during which I gained lots of background information regarding medicine, education, psychology and theology.  I had also started a community project and struggled with my son’s new-age traveller lifestyle, resulting in his leaving home at 16, going missing for several years, being homeless, dependent on drugs and death at 47. 
However, at 50, having been reunited with my son in Gibraltar, I felt compelled to write something for the family and “Two Lives” was eventually brought to life in 2010.  Several other personal memoirs followed, all of which were published on Amazon.  My real concern in writing has been to come to terms with the happenings in my own life, by recording actual events, which I hoped might inform, interest or be of help to others.
After returning home to Lower Sprotbrough from Derbyshire in December 2002, I involved myself in local issues and became secretary to the Don Gorge Community Group.  Some years later, I was asked by Amberley Publishing to write “River Don: from Source to Sea”, which was published in 2014.
AW  Famous authors, such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas, had a special space for writing.  Do you have a writing ‘shed’ of your own.
LR  No, I don’t.  I don’t have any particular method of writing either.  I have an idea of what I want to write about and usually start with the Preface, setting out what I expect to cover.
As everything I write is from experience, the ideas will have been going round in my head for a long time anyway, so I just begin.  I edit as I go along, but once a book is ’finished’ I will read it through and note any inconsistences or things to re-check.  Rarely do I ask anyone else to read through for me, I just trust my own judgement.  My Sprotbrough book was slightly different because I was representing the lives of so many others, so each person was asked to read their part and two other people read the whole thing before it was published.  I self-published and just employed a printing company to print 300 copies.
AW  Finally, what would your eight-year-old self think of, and say about, you today?
LR  I don’t think she would have thought or said anything very much about her future.  I think she was a very quiet and naïve child who had a wonderful childhood, roaming the woods and playing on the farm with the many children and young people who lived alongside in the tiny hamlet of Lower Sprotbrough on the side of the River Don.  Her father was killed in a road accident at Christmas time when she was ten and her grandfather who lived with the family died on bonfire night when she was twelve, so I think life was more about getting through rather than having any idealistic notions of her future.  Now that she has grown into me, she is absolutely amazed at the wonderful things she has done and the life she has lived for nearly 77 years, despite all its tragedies and disappointments.
You can follow Liz on Amazon
You can get the book by contacting Liz at  soh.lizreeve@gmail.com


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Allan, thank you for responding. I'm pleased to say the book has sold very well and lots of people have said how much they have or are enjoying reading it, which has been very rewarding and made it all worthwhile. Liz