Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Author Tales: Alberta Ross

How did an oldie get here? Up on cyberspace having the time of her life.  It has been a long journey.  The story begins way back, after the second world war.

Back then hardly anyone possessed a phone, forget mobile or cell phones, I am talking landline phones here.  True,  oh doubting children:)  Air flight was for the forces and wealthy, the Astronomer Royal here, in the UK, declared space travel was impossible in our life time and as for computers? Well huge machines taking up a couple of rooms. We learnt the noble art of written communication with steel nibbed pens which needed dipping in an ‘inkwell’ – hard to believe that any one from those dark ages still lives, but  I and many others are still here and not even that old in the grand scheme of things.

It is Christmas – I will let you into a secret, the best item I could find in my stocking Christmas morning was a box of pencils and a homemade notebook, not the notebooks one collects because they are beautiful and too lovely to be used, oh no, these were cut up sheets of once typed paper – stapled to present the clean sides.  What bliss for a scribbler.

I was a reader as a child, born of a long line of such.  I cut my imagination teeth on old Victorian versions of Grimes and his ilk, on tales of derr and do of the Colonial kind and the classics.  Paper had been rationed during the war and during the times of bankruptcy and austerity, the country was going through afterwards, new children’s books were in short supply.  It mattered not – I read, I wished to write.  My first attempt was at 6 when I wrote a story about a rabbit.  I scribbled many tales during my growing years, in pen on paper, then typed on paper.  Influenced by my reading and life around me.  I have them all, in the attic, moved from house to house over the decades. Back then authorship was rare and seemed to involve years of misunderstood garret living.

I grew up – life took over.  College, employment and fulfilment of a childhood ambition to travel to all the amazing places I had read about.  Science and Technology suddenly grew up also. The world became colourful with Technicolor on film and television  I watched men flying through space, walking on the moon.  The world began to shrink but it would still take hours to get a long distance phone call through as operators across the continents endeavoured to connect to each other. Letters could fly cutting communication by months.  Exciting times. Video players, CD players. We heard more about computers , not yet for individuals but look around the corner ahead.

I bought into early computers, not understanding how they could work, but then I drove a car and never have understood how an engine works.  I upgraded whenever finances allowed.  I took myself off as a very mature student to University and found the machine so much easier than a typewriter.  I managed to get to grips with a fax machine.  E-mails? Not yet, they only work when the one you wish to send one too has a computer also. I didn’t possess the earliest mobile phone but had one of the second generation, large heavy and chunky – now look at them.

Each new innovation involved learning new skills but it was fun.  The increase in newness built up to become an avalanche, no sooner learnt when the skills became obsolete and retraining was required, the world grew ever smaller and ever quicker just as steps and mind became slower:(

I was enamoured with my computer, but used very little of it.  Research, typing and many trips to online book shops, that was all.  Then when I was certainly old enough to know better I decided to dust down my imagination and attempt to write a book. How was it done? Could I remember? It had been so long.  I began one evening to write a short story.  Yes.  Well no. it became the first in a series.

To publish? To self publish? ( )How? On that shimmering web of course.  The part of computer ownership where I had never really ventured.  Did I trust my old bones to such an ethereal place? Of course I did.  I was a traveller after all, had always wished I could have flown to the moon, always wished to discover new lands. Cyberspace was a new land.

Whenever I had set off on my travels I had made preparations before hand, it was no different now.  I researched and made endless lists, cross referenced and then one day stepped off firm land onto the trembling web.  It sparkled, oh how it sparkled, and was  more fun than I had imagined.

It is easy to forget.  As I curse the slowness of my laptop.  As I casually text a friend.  As I open my bulging Inbox of e-mails and chat with friends from around the globe and the generations. When I send a document through the ether to America or New Zealand it is easy to forget where I started from all those decades ago. When I read a book on a slim black reader that has never been told what paper is – so easy to forget how much has changed.  Our minds are so adaptable, so fluid, so accommodating to change that I have to think quite hard sometimes what the days of my childhood were truly like. My life really hasn’t been that long.

So, instant communication, instant (well almost) publishing, network on the constant move.  The only thing, it seems to me, that is not instant is the writing of the ‘book’.  Still the only way is to imagine and then to put it down, edit and polish.   It can be speeded up by using voice recognition software but that software can only write as fast as your own imagination.  Some things have not changed:)

Newness changes every few months now, new aspects need to be mastered constantly.  I can foresee a day when my brain won’t keep up, but, until that happens I am going to continue having fun, continue learning, mastering, communicating and playing up here on the web, creating tales to entertain. No garret for me – too cold:)


Alberta  spent the first part of her adult life travelling the world, the middle years studying and now has settled down to write. From the first part she has endless photographs, memories and friends. From the second  a BSc Hons, an MA and friends. Now in this part everything comes together.

Over the years her interests have expanded, as has her book and music collection. A short list would include reading (almost anything) science, opera, folk, gardening, philosophy, crazy patchwork, freeform crochet, ethics, social history, cooking (and eating of course) gardening, anthropology, climate change and sustainability.

Alberta says the best gift her parents gave her, apart from a love of reading and music, was an interest and curiosity in everything which, in itself, has become a total inability to be bored and for this she is always grateful.

Social Network sites:

Blogs: for background to the writing of Alberta’s publications for whatever takes her fancy for all things writing

Alberta can also be found on:


The Fiddling Feline, the Flea and the Frog et al is visiting other blogs over the next two weeks
http:// on the 29/30 November on the 3rd December on the 6th December

There will be six e-book copies of The Fiddling Feline, the Flea and the Frog et al up for grabs at the end of this mini tour – winners will be selected randomly from those who comment.  I can offer print copies only to UK residents. 

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