Monthly Archives: October 2017

“As powerful as any great classic of fiction”

So said Sir Ian McKellen in his Foreword to my book. And it is.

Do you remember the terrible times of AIDS and HIV in the 1980s and 1990s? If not, are you curious to learn what it was like for those diagnosed?

Wise Before their Time, first published in 1992, shows in moving detail what it was like to live with HIV/AIDS when there was no real treatment for this life threatening illness. It tells the true stories of over forty young men and women from all over the world attending an international conference of people with HIV and AIDS in London in 1991.

I have added a new cover and a short introduction to the new version, but the book remains essentially the same.

These were very young people (most were in their twenties and thirties) having to cope with an unexpectedly shortened life span.

They describe the difficulties of telling their parents, friends and partners of their diagnosis, while trying to cope with the day-to-day problems of staying healthy, keeping in work and supporting their friends.

They all experienced enormous stigma, blame and guilt because of the disease. This can be seen in all kinds of ways ­– from small things, like an Irishman being disappointed that friends did not want him to play with their child, to larger ones, such as man being placed alone in an isolation hospital in Goa for some months with no help.

They all knew others who had died. And one mother tells the story of the death of her toddler.

Yet this is in no way a struggle to read. It is touching, it is enlightening and it is sometimes funny.  But most of all, there is virtually no self-pity. On the contrary, the participants were committed to celebrating the joys of life to the full. Which is why I chose the title – they were, genuinely, wise before their time.

For more information or to buy:

New Book: Behind The Cost of Survival

The Cost of Survival is a science fiction thriller exploring the dark side of human nature from a world on the brink of destruction. Author J. L. Stowers asks the question, “What if humankind could no longer reproduce?” The answer is shockingly disturbing, but perhaps not too far from the truth if our dark history repeats itself.

The main character, Walt Marshall, is cynical and distrustful of the very government who hired him. Yet he can’t say no to a once in a lifetime mission to a remote area devoid of the masses and their overwhelming use of technology. He makes his new home outside a military camp in a war-torn valley in hopes to restore the area to its once fruitful nature. However, Walt quickly realizes things aren’t what they seem.

Walt stumbles upon an unspeakable secret regarding the truth as to why this valley was selected for colonization. Readers are emerged in Walt’s journey and internal conflict. The closer he gets to finding answers, the more he’s reminded of the emotional anguish he tried to leave behind. His path to the truth leads through espionage and treason all while forcing Walt out of his comfort zone. The long time loner is forced to trust and rely on the people around him in order to uncover the facts.

This story is filled with twists, turns, and symbolism to keep readers on their toes. However, the best thing the first book in the Genesis Rising series has to offer is a glimpse at the lore fueling the trilogy. In the short story prequel, Project Genesis, we witness the discovery of the Genesis documents and the formation of the secret organization behind the translation. In The Cost of Survival, Walt Marshall experiences the mysterious language once more. We learn some of the information uncovered in the Genesis documents and more will be revealed throughout the series.

This incredible journey will take readers beyond what they’ve expected and it all starts with learning the secrets within The Cost of Survival.

Buy The Cost of Survival on Amazon here.

Five star review from an excellent journalist

Brave Voices from the Dark Era of HIV/AIDS

“When AIDS first hit the headlines in the early 1980s, there was widespread fear and ignorance. I remember an ernest young fisherman coming up to me on a beach in Sri Lanka in the summer of 1986, asking nervously whether one could catch AIDS from kissing.

These days, attitudes to the disease — and to the HIV virus that can lead to it — have changed considerably, partly because of more widespread scientific knowledge but largely because those who can access antiretroviral drugs (dispensed free to infected men and women in many countries, including the UK) can often live a normal life. AIDS is no longer an automatic death sentence.

So the context in which Ann Richardson has reissued her book of testimonies from people living with (or dying from) HIV/AIDS has changed considerably over the two decades since she and her (now deceased) collaborator, Dietmar Bolle, first produced it.

Nonetheless, there is a freshness and an immediacy in many of the spoken and written interviews with people of both genders, of different ages and from different cultures. The book is arranged thematically, covering major aspects of how people came to terms with their condition, who they told and how and the sort of support networks they developed — or their experiences of rejection and prejudice. The stories are often moving, even tear-inducing, and also occasionally funny. Yes, HIV/AIDS before drug therapy was a terrible plague, which particularly hit Western gay men and heterosexual Africans and their children.

But what comes over most strongly from many of the people who feature in this important book is their fortitude, in some cases their stoicism, and often intimations of real love.”

Jonathan Fryer

For more information or to buy:

A perfect gift for a grandma

Isn’t it strange how you can do something for one reason and find it has another purpose altogether!

I write books on subjects that happen to capture my interest, all based around interviews. I wrote one on young people with HIV and AIDS back when there was no cure (Wise Before their Time) and one on nurses and others providing end-of-life care (Life in a Hospice). Both were very well received.

Then I became a grandmother and found that many aspects of the grandmother role were fascinating. I decided to interview nearly thirty grandmothers from many walks of life and, indeed, nationalities, and put their responses together in a book. I titled this Celebrating Grandmothers: grandmothers talk about their lives.

I thought that grandmothers would love to read – and therefore buy – it. And quite a few did – and they wrote excellent reviews about it. Here are a few examples:

“I was expecting a sentimental take on grandmothers and grandchildren, but this is a collection of very candid and honest interviews. It is sometimes sad, but also joyous and funny.”

“This is a wonderful book for grandmothers but not exclusively for them. It shows how important family bonds and the bonds between generations can be and thankfully often are. It allows us to slow down a bit and take stock of how important nurturing relationships are for ourselves, our families, and the world at large.”

“Like all good books, this one is amusing, has pathos and astonishes with the wisdom shown by the contributors…it has really made me think.”

Following its publication, I put a lot of effort into publicising the book in places where older women might learn about it. Yet there was a surprisingly small response. I had to conclude that women are reluctant purchasers of a book they expect to be of interest only to themselves.

BUT in the course of such effort, I discovered that there were eager buyers of my book, namely young parents – both men and women – looking for a present for their mother and, sometimes mother-in-law.

And then I realised that, of course, it is extremely hard to find presents for older women. We have just about everything that we need – indeed, many of us would say we have too many things.

Yet there are birthdays and Christmas. What to do? A book about being a grandmother is original. It takes little space. The cover is pretty and she is unlikely to have it. Problem solved. Bingo.

I never wrote my book to solve people’s present buying dilemmas.  But it works.  And perhaps I get read that way.  I am not complaining.


For more information or to buy, go to my Amazon page