Darlene Foster's Blog

Writer and Blogger, Mary Smith

Posted on: March 13, 2020

I’ve been blogging for almost ten years and I love it. It’s a great way to communicate with like-minded people, and I’ve made wonderful friends all over the world through my blog. The blogging community is so supportive, sharing ideas and providing encouragement.

One friend I’ve made is Mary Smith from Dumfries, Scotland. She has written some wonderful books including a guide to her hometown. When I finally get to Scotland, I will be taking this book with me.

She has also written a couple of books based on life in Afghanistan, where she lived and worked for a number of years. This is my review of No More Mulberries.

I bought this book because I love reading stories that take place in the middle east. I was not disappointed. Mary Smith has written a wonderful story about cross-cultures, family, relationships and Afghanistan. The detailed descriptions of the land, people and culture are fascinating. The story is told through the point of view of Miriam, the main character, who is a wife, mother and medical practitioner. It is easy to identify with her as she struggles to maintain a home for her family in a culture so different from her life in Scotland. Miriam also has to deal with ghosts from the past and feelings she has suppressed for too long which are having a negative effect on her marriage. This well-written book takes place in a troubled time just before the Taliban take control. Since the reader knows what will eventually happen, but the characters don’t, it keeps you on your toes and turning the pages. I highly recommend this book.

During a book signing in British Columbia last fall, I had a most pleasant surprise. Mary’s cousin Grace hand-delivered a card from Mary to me! Grace had been in Scotland to visit Mary who knew I would be at a bookstore not too far from where Grace lived, so she sent a card along. How special is that?

What a lovely card, all the way from Scotland
And the perfect poem on the back.

I have asked Mary to be a guest on my blog and answer a few questions.

If you could choose a fictional character to be your best friend, who would you choose and why?

This one stopped me in my tracks, Darlene, and I found it difficult to pick one – so I’m afraid I cheated and chose two. I would have loved to be best friends with Jo March of Little Women. She is such a great character. She, like me, was a tomboy – I climbed trees, went fishing with boys because I didn’t know any girls who wanted to fish. I even played on building sites, climbing over the rafters of half-built houses (which makes me shudder to think about now). I think we’d have egged each other on to do ever more daring things and I think we’d have laughed a lot together. She was strong-willed, determined not to be bound by the conventions of the day. Best of all, she wanted to write. I’d never met a character – a girl at that – in a book who wanted to be a writer and was totally bowled over by this. If Jo could do it – which she did very successfully – then maybe I could, too. I was slightly less impressed with her in Jo’s Boys when she began to only write for family and stopped writing for money, saying “most of us (she was talking about literary women) write too much.” I don’t think my teenage friend Jo would have adopted such an attitude so I’ll go on believing the teenage Jo March and I are best friends.

The cheat of my second one is a bit quirky. I would love to be best friends with Flora. Flora is the main character in a wonderful novel called The Bees by Laline Paul – and Flora is a bee. She is born into the lowest class of the hive but she’s a brave wee thing and survives and thrives, breaking the rules of the hierarchy in what is a compelling thriller about the secret life of the hive. I think we could be great friends, Flora and me.

If you could personally see one natural phenomenon that you have never seen, what would it be and why that one?

I would love to see the Aurora Borealis. Growing up in Scotland I always loved the song, The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, sung so often in school, at ceilidhs, on the radio, in which the lights are described as the “heavenly dancers”. I’ve seen amazing images of the phenomenon on the internet and would love to see it for real.

If you were to be paid to write a book about any subject you wished, what would it be about?

I want to write a biography of a remarkable woman who was a mechanical engineer in the early 1920s. She had an amazing life: supervising thousands of women (who could build anything from a bicycle to a battleship) at Barrow-in-Furness during the First World War, running a car factory, which employed mainly women, taking part in car racing trials and then establishing a hugely successful steam laundry – they laundered the uniforms of the soldiers who took part in the D-Day Landings. I have done some research but it would be lovely to be paid to do further research and writing the book.

Tell us about your next writing project.

Well, until I’m offered a nice advance to write about my woman engineer, my current project is turning the material on my blog, My Dad’s a Goldfish, into a memoir. My father had dementia, bad enough in itself, but his wife of forty years decided she wanted a peaceful life and left him, just at the time he most needed stability and continuity in his life. I moved in with him and started the blog as a way of recording events – and to keep my writing muscle working – and from feedback it seems all sorts of people would be interested in reading it as a book. It’s not in any way a ‘misery memoir’ – it has a lot of humour – but it does tell it like it is, from finding way to engage my father’s interest in life to dealing with him cheating at dominoes, from dealing with what it’s like to have to wipe your father’s bum to sharing his joy in the countryside.

Mary Smith

A brief bio

Born on the island of Islay but grew up in Dumfries & Galloway from the age of seven. After school had a miserable year working in a bank, went hitchhiking round France and Italy, came back and worked for Oxfam for ten years. Went for a holiday to Pakistan and found a job so the next ten years were spent first in Pakistan then in Afghanistan working for an aid organisation. A freelance journalist, I also write poetry, fiction and non-fiction including local history.

Social media links including Amazon.

Website: www.marysmith.co.uk

Blogs: My Dad’s a Goldfish   https://marysmith57.wordpress.com

Mary Smith’s Place    https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com

Amazon Page US: http://amzn.to/2ecvjbP

Amazon Page UK: http://amzn.to/2jGw9A9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marysmithwriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000934032543

Thanks for answering my questions, Mary. I would love to be friends with Jo March as well. And thanks for being my blogging friend. I’m sure we will meet in person one day soon. Good luck with your writing projects.

Check out Mary’s blog where she is writing a fascinating series of posts about her experiences in Afghanistan. https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com/

109 Responses to "Writer and Blogger, Mary Smith"

It is simply lovely to see Mary featured here, Darlene. I had the great good fortune to meet her in Dumfries last year and it was an amazing experience.

Lucky you. Getting a card from her was the next best thing. I hope to meet her in person myself. She is a lovely person and a great writer.

Thank you, Robbie. It was great to show you around a little bit of Dumfries and meet your family, too.

Thanks, Mary. I am glad we visited Scotland last year as our trip this year is not looking very likely.

This is one of the best interviews I’ve read. What a lovely conversation. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Thanks! I wanted my readers to know what an interesting and talented person Mary is. ,

Thank you for your lovely comment.

What a great series of events. I bet you were shocked when Grace arrive at your book signing with the note! Miriam–great answer to what you’d like to see. The Aurora Borealis–I just researched that for my current WIP. It is amazing!

I was delighted, to say the least. Here I was, from Spain, in Canada receiving a card from Scotland!

I have seen so many absolutely stunning images of the Aurora. One day 🙂

What an interesting interview Darlene and Mary. I hope Mary gets to see the Aurora – it’s an amazing sight.

The Aurora Borealis is one of nature’s most amazing sites. I do hope she gets to see them soon.

Thank you, glad you enjoyed it. I take you’ve been lucky enough to see the Aurora in all its glory – I’m jealous 🙂

Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
A wonderful interview with author and freelance journalist Mary Smith by Darlene Foster.. with Darlene’s review of Mary’s book set in Afghanistan where she worked for many years. Head over to find out which character she would like to be best friends with and what her WIP is..#recommended.

Thanks so much for sharing, Sally.

Wonderful questions Darlene and likewise the answers Mary. So pleased you are writing the memoir, I know that it will mirror many people’s experiences and also offer some insight for those who may face this sad circumstance in the future…hugsx

I tried to come up with some different questions and Mary answered them so well. The memoir is such a great idea.

Thanks, Sally. Darlene’s questions were different and made me stop to think, especially the first one. I hope to get on with the memoir this year.

I enjoyed this Darlene – always interesting to come across marya nd read about her fascinating life. WordPress isn’t letting me “like” it though, so you’ll just have to take my word for it!

Thank you, Jessica. Glad you enjoyed Darlene’s interview of me. I enjoyed her review of No More Mulberries 🙂

Enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Mary through this interesting interview, Darlene. I was a tomboy, myself, so I can relate 🙂
I love reading her posts about her time in Afghanistan. She’s an amazing lady!

So pleased you enjoyed the interview. Mary is indeed an amazing person and has had an interesting life.

Oh, Jacquie, we could have been best friends as kids! I enjoy your visits to my blog posts on my time in Afghanistan – you always have interesting questions.

I would have loved being your friend 🙂

Thank you Darlene this is lovely interview, I have met Mary more than once at the bloggers Bash and she is a really amazing person. Her books set in Afghanistan are really so interesting as is her book on Dumfries.
I really enjoyed this post thank you 💜.

Thanks, Willow. Anyone who would send a card from Scotland to Canada with her cousin has got to be amazing!!

Yes indeed 💜, and all the work she has done in Afghanistan 💜

Thanks, Willow. I’m glad we’ve had the chance to meet at the Bloggers Bash and I always enjoy your visits to my blog.

I always enjoy visiting you too

Thanks so much, Darlene. I hadn’t realised you were going to include a lovely review of No More Mulberries so double thank you.

You are so welcome. I really loved the book. Thanks for your fabulous answers to my questions. Hugs, Darlene

I’ll share it in a minute on my blog – as soon as I’ve responded to all the lovely comments your followers have left.

This is so much fun! Your questions are fabulous, Darlene, and Mary, your answers are astounding. Yes, Jo March, wouldn’t she be an amazing friend? And now I need to read The Bees to find out more about Flora. Also, I’ve enjoyed reading both your blogs. I first found you on your blog My Dad’s a Goldfish (what a title!) and it helped reading the post as I struggled with my mom’s dementia. I’m glad to hear you’re planning on publishing it as a book. I think that’s a great idea.
Also, lovely review of No More Mulberries- and I enjoyed hearing about Grace and the “card,” I love how the universe works if we just share love, kindness, goodness.

Thank you, Pam. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the interview. Darlene asked some great questions. Do read The Bees – it’s a fabulous book. I hadn’t expected to be so totally absorbed in it and it’s a real page turner. My cousin was delighted to deliver my card to Darlene. I was a bit worried about how far Darlene’s reading venue might be from where my cousin lives – and Vancouver is such an enormous city – but she said it was no problem. I love the way our blogging community comes together in friendship.

Our blogging community – worldwide – is AMAZING. So neat to see you and Darlene here in the same post. ❤

I’m so glad you enjoyed the interview, Pam. I need to read The Bees too. The universe does work well!

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. ❤

[…] A great interview with Mary Smith with Darlene Foster. Read at Source […]

Love this! Such an enlightening interview.

Great. Mary is a wonderful person to interview.

Thank you. I’m pleased you enjoyed the interview.

Reblogged this on Mary Smith's Place and commented:
I’m delighted to feature on Darlene Foster’s blog today, answering some interesting questions. Do pop over to read it – and have a browse round Darlene’s blog which has all sorts of fascinating posts.

Thanks for reblogging!

So good to see Mary featured here, and to learn more about her in the process. Thanks very much, Darlene. 🙂
Best wishes, Pete.

Thanks, Pete. It is such an amazing community of bloggers we have here.

Like you, Darlene, I adore the fact that blogging brings the world closer and surprises us with friends from all over. I’m glad you have found Mary and have shared a unique friendship — and book reviews.

You make friendships that endure because you understand the connection is a 2-way street that you nurture with your guest posts and in other ways. I admire this! 🙂

Any relationship is a 2-way street and I suppose this was instilled in me by my parents. I have much to thank them for. xo

Thank you Darlene for your wonderful review and interview with Mary Smith. You really both sparkle with life. I do so agree with your thoughts on blogging. I do at time feel so close with some that it feels as if you met.
As to Mary Smith, I am already a fan. Her book ” No more Mulberries” made a great impact on me and I recommended it to friends. Beautiful writing and fascinating tale.

Thank you both

Miriam

I’m so pleased you enjoyed this interview with Mary. I agree, No More Mulberries is a story that stays with you.

Thank you so much, Miriam, especially for your endorsement of No More Mulberries.

Great questions and fascinating answers. I’m particularly interested in Mary’s current project as I went through many of the challenges of having a parent with dementia. It gave me new respect for caregivers. We are going through that experience again with my ninety-six-year old mother-in-law; she hasn’t recognized any of her children in several years. The main difference this go-round is that she lives four hours away.

Thanks, Pete. I think a book about dealing with a parent with dementia would be very enlightening for many.

Thanks, Pete. Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law and it must make things even more difficult to be so far away, I hope the book will offer some help and insights into caring for a family member with dementia – all the messiness, frustrations and sparks of joy it involves.

I have stumbled into Mary’s telling of her Afgan adventures and find it difficult not to read every word. Thanks, Darlene for featuring her on your blog. So nice learning more about her.

Mary’s posts are so intriguing. So pleased you enjoyed reading more about her.

Thank you, John. I always enjoy your comments on the blog.

Great interview Darlene!! Love the questions and answers! My best to you!!

Thank you, glad you enjoyed it. Darlene asks questions that make you think.

Thanks, Kirt. Mary is an interesting guest!

This is an outstanding interview. Well done Darlene and Mary!

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

An adventurous lady and a lovely connection between the two of you.

Thank you Catherine. Virtual friendships can feel every bit as real and important as those made in ‘real’ life.

Yes, I do agree. I have been so wonderfully surprised by this.

Mary has had her share of adventures. So glad I met her in cyberspace!

Mary sounds like an amazing lady and an amazing writer. Thanks for sharing her here, Darlene. I hope you get your research $$ and can write that book about the lady engineer, Mary!

Thanks, Lisa. Mary is amazing and I do hope she writes that book.

Thank you, Lisa. I think she is a fascinating subject for a book so yes, an upfront advance would be lovely – but maybe I’ll get it written anyway though it will take longer.

Hi I will definitely check out your blog Mary and thanks Darlene for having mary as a guest blogger! Xxx

Thanks, Carol Anne. You will enjoy Mary’s blog.

Thanks, Carol. Do pop into my blog and take a look round – hope you enjoy what you find.

Fascinating post. Like you, I’m drawn to stories about the middle east, the culture and traditions! Mary’s book really sounds engaging! And, I have Scottish in me, so I’d also be intrigued with Dumfries.

Thanks, Patricia. It seems you and Mary have a lot in common.

Thank you, Patricia. I was fascinated by the culture in Afghanistan and Pakistan and always happy to find the similarities between all our nations.

I enjoyed reading your interview with Mary and finding out a little more about her. She and I have in common the exact same reaction to the Jo in Little Women and the Jo in Jo’s Boys!

Oh, Liz, I’m so pleased you agree. I suspect Alcott was pandering to a public which still expected wives to remain in their allotted role!

I expect you’re right. I was disappointed in Jo’s Boys.

I also much prefered the first novel, but the second one did reflect the times it was written in. Always great to learn more about our fellow authors. Thanks for checking in.

You’re welcome, Darlene!

This sounds like an amazing book, and I really enjoyed the interview with Mary. Congrats to both of you!

You came up with some great questions for the interview!

Thanks, Michele. I wanted to come up with something different. Glad you enjoyed them.

They were interesting questions to answer, Michele.

I too love a bit of Mary and have no more Mulberries in my forever keep collection, some books you just have to. Good questions too.

Thanks, Ellen. That book is a keeper.

Thanks so much, Ellen.

My father recently died from Alzheimer’s. My mother did the best she could with him, and it was difficult for her (and us kids), but it would have been VERY difficult if she had up and left. I am in awe of Mary already.

Mary is quite an amazing person and made of strong stuff!

Thank you, Priscilla. It was a pretty unusual situation and, yes, very difficult. The sudden departure from his life of someone who had been a fixture for over 40 years really accelerated the dementia.

Wonderful post and conversation with Mary. I loved her “Home” poem. Thank you, Darlene!

Mary is multi-talented. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post.

Thanks so much, Jennie.

You’re welcome, Mary.

[…] This is so lovely and supportive, get to know another author via Writer and Blogger, Mary Smith […]

Perfect, just what I was looking for!

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