Two ways to write a memoir
Allow you to introduce you to my friend, actress, writer and storyteller, Bernadette Nason
I first met Berni about 30 years ago when we were living in Dubai and have stayed in touch ever since. Back then she was working as a Personal Assistant to the manager of a successful hotel. Today, she has reinvented herself as an actress, storyteller and writer and lives in Austin, Texas.
This month has seen the publication of her second memoir, Stealing Baby Jesus, just in time for Christmas. Her previous memoir, Tea in Tripoli, was based on the period of her life, before Dubai, when she had the kind of ‘you’d never believe it’ experience made for publication. Two memoirs and yet they are each written very differently.
Tea in Tripoli is written just like a novel, with lashings of what I call SPICE (Specifics, Place, Incident, Character, Emotion), which makes it a pacey, entertaining and funny read. Berni excels at writing honestly and authentically about the things that have happened to her and is skilled at identifying which of the ‘Incidents’ she has experienced to string together into a full-length memoir of a short period in time.
Stealing Baby Jesus, however, is a tightly crafted piece of work, inspired not only by the countless times she has acted in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but also by memorable Christmases throughout her life. This time, Christmas stories have been strung together chronologically, keeping to the festive theme while also taking the reader on a journey through her life. It’s a clever device, neatly executed. I’m not going to tell you what the story that became the title is all about because that would spoil the surprise.
While Berni has, so far, written two memoirs in two different ways, I have spent time analysing a number of memoirs and discovered there are several other methods too. Go to Expat Bookshop and download yourself a free copy of my Inside Secrets guide to find out more.
There is no doubt that being a storyteller and actress has lent Berni with an eye for a story and an ear for what makes a story into a page turner with a protagonist we care about.
This month, I interview her as part of my In Conversation series about how and why she decided to write her books and how acting and storytelling have helped her to craft compelling words. As you know, the current pandemic has put paid to the chance of work for actors and storytellers and this made the writing and publication of Stealing Baby Jesus even more pressing. In the eight months since the world went into Lockdown, Berni has written, edited and published her book, which is quite an achievement.
I hope you join us both In Conversation on Thursday 12th November at 14:00 UK time and come prepared to ask questions of your own.
There may be a pandemic on, but that does not mean that I am unable to provide any learning opportunities. Just scoot on over to my Virtual Events page and you’ll find regular Speedwrite Live sessions, Book Writing Circles and my popular In Conversation interviews. In November I am delighted to have two fabulous ones lined up…
In Conversation with Berni Nason
Thursday 12th November at 2pm UK time
When the pandemic put paid to her acting and storytelling assignments Brit in Texas, Berni, decided to write her second memoir, Stealing Baby Jesus. Find out how she did it so quickly, where she looks for ideas and how her experience of acting and storytelling help the writer of memoir.
Register to listen to my questions and ask your your own here.
In Conversation with Olga Mecking
Thursday 26th November at 2pm UK time
If you have missed the news lately then you may have missed the extensive coverage my friend, Olga, has been experiencing as the result of publishing her book, Niksen, The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing. Not only did publishers fight over it but foreign language rights have been sold across the globe. So, how did a Polish expat, with English as a thirdl language get so lucky? Learn tips and tricks from the writer I (not so secretly) have nicknamed The Rottweiler.
Register to listen to my questions and ask your own here.
And, God willing, my popular, successful residential course will take place next August. Hurry, if you want to grab yourself a place.
Start Writing Your Life Stories with me at The Watermill at Posara
Sadly, the pandemic prevented my 2020 course from going ahead in Tuscany, but I’m all booked in and positive that 14-21 August 2021 will be fine. Most of the students rebooked for this week, but a couple of places remain. Don’t miss out. It’s usually full. If you want to learn how to write with SPICE and enjoy the best of Tuscan scenery and hospitality then this simply cannot be beaten. For more information and to reserve your place visit https://watermill.net.
Don’t miss my Virtual Events page to sign up for more great stuff and catch up on past In Conversation videos.
Jo Parfitt's Monthly Inspirer