Here is part two of my author spotlight on Kim Forester who’s independently published non-fiction book Inside Broadmoor (Secrets of the Criminally Insane – Revealed by the Chief Attendant) about inmates at Broadmoor Prison in the last half of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth century, has recently been released. Based on the journals kept by her Great Great Grandfather Charles Bishop Coleman who worked at Broadmoor Prison, it is a truly fascinating account of the plight of inmates interred. Including a section about a prisoner who many believed to be the real Jack the Ripper.
You can read part one of the interview here: https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/author-spotlight-kim-forester/
I asked Kim what was the best part of writing your book?
The part I enjoyed the most was the research itself. The amateur detective in me enjoyed collating the facts of what happened in each case, bringing them all together and then trying to convey them in a way that was clear, concise and dispassionate. With such evocative events, I did not want my own emotions to cloud the book. Taking a look into the lives of others is always fascinating and often surprising. Everyone has a story, no person is truly alike despite superficial similarities and we all face the same challenges, temptations, and joys. How we deal with those is what gives us the outcome to each story.
What, if anything, have you learned from writing your book?
How lucky I am.
I have a fantastic and loving immediate and extended family; I’ve always been in work and I have a great job and colleagues now; I enjoy good health; I’ve benefitted from an excellent education and I have wonderful friends. I’m generally a positive person and I have been fortunate to have the life and opportunities I have enjoyed so far. The chance to travel and meet so many different people has broadened my outlook and given me empathy towards others. I’m not superhuman, of course, I have my moments, but in the grand scheme of things I really have nothing to moan about and if I had to choose a trait I like best in myself and in others, it would be kindness – the world is cruel enough without unnecessarily hurting those around us.
Do you have any advice to give authors who wish to write non-fiction?
I don’t really think I am qualified to offer advice, but I can offer encouragement – if you want to do something then have a go. You lose nothing in the trying. I originally wrote my book in a completely different format, which didn’t work, but I learned something from that experience and I simply had another crack at it – hopefully more successfully this time. I use a couple of pertinent quotes in my book and I’ll finish my answer here with one of my own favourite quotes from the late Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin….”You are the one who can stretch your own horizon.”
Do you have a favourite author? If so, what is it about their work that you like?
I would struggle to choose just one author. From a small child, I have been an avid reader and enjoy many different genres. I have a deep interest in history, both fiction, and non-fiction and am particularly fascinated by early Welsh history and the Plantagenet era from King Henry II through to Richard III. A few years ago I found American writer Sharon Kay Penman and eagerly anticipate each new release – she writes extremely good novels about the era in which I am most interested. From the classics my favourite book would have to be non-fiction ‘Goodbye to All That’, the autobiography of Robert Graves, a deeply moving book and less well known than ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’. More recently I have discovered ‘Indie’ writer Nathan Dylan Goodwin and his genealogical detective stories about Morton Farrier, which I think are getting better and better as the series moves on. However, the story I find completely unforgettable is ‘The House on the Strand’ by Daphne du Maurier. One of her later books, it is an imaginative mix of mental time-travel, murder, addiction, and temptation – the open ending of the tale is haunting, leaving you to reach your own conclusions.
Do you plan to write more non-fiction, or perhaps, fiction?
I am keeping an open mind on further writing. I am tempted. I would like to have a go at something (maybe something different) in the future, but time is the enemy. Charles wrote over 700 entries in his diaries and I may decide to explore more of those. I took his documents along to the Antiques Roadshow at Audley End House in Saffron Walden recently and their expert considered them a ‘find’, so they were filmed and if I don’t end up on the cutting room floor, I hope you may get to see some of his items for yourself in the forthcoming series in the autumn.
I hope you found Kim’s interview interesting. If you did, you might like to know more and also grab a copy of her book at the contact links below.