Stranger News

It is almost a year since Stranger In My Heart was launched. I have recently received my royalty statement from Unbound which said that, in the 9 months from June 2018 to March 2019 I sold about 1,000 copies, half e-book and half paperback edition. I’m told that I should be pleased about this, even if it seems small reward for the blood, sweat and tears that went into the project! It also means that I have over £800 to donate to the Riding for the Disabled Association. I am figuring out how to donate it for maximum impact and will keep you posted.

The TV company that are making a documentary series to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 have told me that they won’t be filming me after all, but it will still be great to have the Hong Kong story told on prime time TV. The show will air in the autumn and they have said they’ll tell me when it is on.

Next week I have the first of several talks to Women’s Institutes in Wiltshire. As it is a lovely sunny day I thought I’d go and sit in the garden and read my book! As in read MY book. I’ve become so focused on my work in progress that I’ve forgotten the details of Stranger In My Heart and I don’t want to look an idiot by not being able to answer questions about it!

I just heard from the Commanding Officer of 19RA, the Regiment that Dad commanded in the 1950s. They have a scrapbook detailing what they were doing throughout his Command, including their activities in Korea and Hong Kong. I am going to go over to Larkhill in a few weeks to have a look at it. It will fill in an annoying gap in my knowledge of his army career. Here he is in front of his troops in Korea. It says it’s the Queen’s Birthday Parade, but 9th June is also Dad’s birthday.

19RA, Korea 1955
Dad in Korea with 19RA, 1955

Book Launch!

The launch party for Stranger In My Heart at the Apex Hotel in Bath was a great success. I felt truly honoured by everyone who came and it was a treat to meet the ‘next generations’ of men who had fought or escaped with Dad at Hong Kong. I was so pleased to be able to introduce this ‘extended family’ as well as the son of Dad’s Chinese interpreter, Jane Cordingley (who planted the seed of the book in my mind) and my own extended family. Other VIP guests included the Right Worshipful Mayor of Bath, my local Councillor and the Commanding Officer of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (19RA).

Stranger In My Heart Launch Party

Cllr Shelford and Col Beaumont

Cllr Shelford & Col Beaumont

Even though most people at the party had pre-ordered copies of the book, lots of people wanted to buy extra copies for friends and family and I spent a happy hour signing books. I think the Riding for the Disabled Association is going to get a nice big donation out of this!

Mary Monro signing copies of Stranger In My Heart

Latest news is that Stranger In My Heart will be mentioned this week in Country Life Magazine and there will be an excerpt about Dad’s escape in the South China Morning Post’s Sunday Magazine. The Bath Chronicle Weekend Magazine and Bath Life are both featuring stories about the book in the next few weeks, so keep an eye open for those.

All photos © Paul Gillis Photo 2018

First PR

While I have been pacing up and down, waiting for actual, real live, genuine paperback copies of my book to land on my doorstep; and, while crossing everything crossable that my beloved supporters will get their copies before the public launch date of 9th June, I have been generating PR. I have done Q&As for Bath Life Magazine and Odynovo – the tour operator that I used for my trips to China. I will add the interviews here when they are published. I have also got speaking gigs at the Bristol Lit Fest in October and the Shrewsbury Lit Fest in November 2018.

It’s not long till the launch party in Bath for Stranger In My Heart and I have been ordering special fortune cookies, refining the Spotify playlist, dreaming up decorations and looking forward to chef’s Asian inspired canapes. I am so excited to be welcoming the Mayor of Bath, the current Commanding Officer of Dad’s regiment (19RA, the Scottish Gunners), the ‘next generations’ of Dad’s colleagues from Hong Kong, the person who set the whole book in train and, not least, friends and family who supported the book to get it published.

To calm myself down I have been gardening and watching foals being born. Actually that’s just as exciting.

rose

foal