STORY INSPIRED BY A PET BIRD

The following article appeared in the Vernon Morning Star newspaper, Vernon, British Columbia, posted February 8, 2015 in the Lifestyle section. Gayle has made a few deletions and additions for accuracy. The original article is at

Story inspired by a … pet [bird]

by Cara Brady

Gayle & Ian - JLJBL interview-Morning Star

Gayle and Ian Moore-Morrans sign copies of their new children’s book, Jake, [Little] Jimmy & Big Louie. they will have a book signing Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. at teach and Learn. (photo credit: Cara Brady/Morning Star)

When a writer meets and marries an editor, the result is books. Ian and Gayle Moore-Morrans have just published their first book written together, a children’s book called Jake, Little Jimmy & Big Louie.

Their previous books, written by Ian and edited by Gayle, are From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada, a memoir, and Beyond the Phantom Battle: Mystery at Loch Ashie[, a novel].

The couple included members of their extended family, great-grandchildren Leland German, then 11, as reader, and Hannah German, then [seven], as illustrator.

Jake, Jimmy & Big Louie is a book to appeal to anyone of any age who has ever loved and raised a pet. Ian draws on his own experiences raising a cockatiel to tell the story of a boy who takes on a budgie with a disability and an at-first unwanted raven, and follows their adventures and growing friendship.

Ian, 82, still has vivid memories of the first time he ever saw a book. He grew up in poverty on the West Coast of Scotland.

“I must have been about four. My brother brought home a book from school and it had pictures in it. It was such a temptation. I went to school until I was 14 and got good marks in writing. My teacher told me I should be a journalist but that seemed too far beyond me,” he recalled. “I joined the air force and it was the first time I had sheets on my bed and three meals a day.”

He later became a blacksmith, then an industrial machinist and has written a book, Metal Machining Made Easy.

Gayle also showed an early aptitude for writing and wrote for church papers and magazines while she was a parish worker, [secretary, social services director and program and magazine editor]. She married a pastor and lived in Germany for [eighteen] years, keeping up her writing and editing and detailed scrapbooks. She was widowed [after she moved to Canada] and met Ian, who had lost his wife, in 2003 in Winnipeg. They made their way west and decided they liked Vernon after performing here as Mr. Scotland and his Bonnie Lassie, a singing duet, at a Kelvern Celtic Society Ceilidh.

Ian said [he] started to write the book [many] years ago [at age 63]. “I had a dream about this little budgie and thought if I’m ever going to start writing this story, I better start writing it now.”

Gayle added, “We dedicate this book to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

Ian and Gayle are now working on a new book, Came to Canada, Eh? Continuing a Scottish Immigrants Story. Jake, Little Jimmy & Big Louie is available through http://www.createspace.com/5114278 or Amazon. Their blog is at http://www.ianmooremorrans.com and their publishing company is Moomor Publishing.

Ian and Gayle will have a book signing Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. at Teach and Learn in Vernon.

In addition, Gayle and Ian will host two book launches for Jake, Little Jimmy & Big Louie at their home, Sunday, February 22. Information from the poster follows:

Announcing
Book Launches for 
“Jake, Little Jimmy & Big Louie,”
the adventures of a boy and his two pet birds
set in Vernon, British Columbia
(a children’s chapter book for ages 7-12 and for older people, too)
Sunday, February 22, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (take your pick)
Book readings and signings, a “bird hunt,” and refreshments
At the home of authors Ian & Gayle Moore-Morrans
House #69, 6688 Tronson Road, Vernon
(just west of the airport)
250-275-1446 (you may call ahead to reserve a place)
also
A Book Reading & Signing
Saturday, February 28 at 2 p.m.
Vernon Teach and Learn Ltd.
3015-30th Avenue, Vernon

 

HUMOR AND A GOOD LAUGH CAN HELP YOU DEAL WITH LIFE

Yesterday we received our copy of 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading, 2013-2014.

50Writers2014-150front COVERVery nicely done and interesting reading about other writers and how they came to write. Ian is featured among the 50 writers, all chosen by public vote after reading writer’s essays about “How I Write”. The writers had all previously been interviewed on The Authors Show about a specific book they had written. Ian’s interview was about his memoir published in 2012 entitled From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada. In the media release about Ian’s win, Ian is quoted as saying:

“The central message of my book is that it is possible to overcome a negative lifestyle like poverty. However, in order to do so, one has to have grit, perseverance, sometimes luck and even humor to get through it all. I’ve tried to look for humor in each and every situation. When all else fails, a good laugh and then, determining to pick yourself up and start anew, will help you deal with most things that life throws at you.”

“The central message of my book,” Ian continued, “is that it is possible to overcome a negative lifestyle like poverty. However, in order to do so, one has to have grit, perseverance, sometimes luck and even humor to get through it all. I’ve tried to look for humor in each and every situation. When all else fails, a good laugh and then, determining to pick yourself up and start anew, will help you deal with most things that life throws at you.” – See more at: file:///C:/Users/Gayle/Desktop/AUTHORS%20SHOW/MEDIA%20NEW%20RELEASE/Final%20Media%20Release.htm#sthash.CM9gqbAA.dpuf

Another blogger – Kev – sent us a comment a short time ago remarking that he enjoyed some of our pictures from book readings and noted “Beautiful pic…some great laughter going on there. :).

Here is our favourite photo from a book Reacting to More than Slightly Sloshedreading, showing some of Gayle’s relatives enjoying a humorous story from Ian’s book, From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada. (Thanks for your hearty enthusiasm, cousin Janice! The menfolk all look amused as well, but quite a bit more subdued.)

Gayle’s reply to Kev was: “Your nice comment about the pictures and laughter has inspired me to put on a future post a humorous excerpt from Ian’s memoir. I think the excerpt that generated most of the laughter came from Ian’s story which he calls “More Than Slightly Sloshed.” Look for it in the next few days – as soon as I have time to put it on this website.”

Well, those “next few days” have grown to several weeks so it is high time that I (Gayle) fulfill my promise. So here is the excerpt from Ian’s story.

Airman Ian Morrans, Royal Air Force, 1951, RAF photo.

Airman Ian Morrans, Royal Air Force, 1951, RAF photo.

To set the scene, the year is 1950. Eighteen-year-old Ian has just completed his “square bashing” (basic training) with the Royal Air Force in southern England and tells of his disastrous first leave home to Campbeltown in southwest Scotland.

Then I got one week’s leave and was given my travel warrant to go home. From there I was to go to RAF St. Athens in Wales, about 17 miles west of Cardiff, not far from Bridgend. It was hardly worth going home, as it meant two days’ traveling time each way. I just got there and it was almost time to head out again. As things turned out, I really shouldn’t have gone at all! Here’s why. I call this story, “More Than Slightly Sloshed!”
I arrived at our house in Campbeltown at 9:30 in the evening after being on trains or waiting for connections in train stations for a total time of about 20 hours. I found two of my mother’s Salvation Army lady friends visiting her, the three of them huddled around a roaring coal fire.
Noticing a strange smell, I asked my mother what was causing it. She replied, “Oh it’s Bill; he’s makin’ whisky in the wee room.” (To us Scots, a “wee room” is a wee bit wee-er than a small room!)
My Irish stepfather Bill was not of the Salvation Army persuasion! Very often in the years since he’d married my mother, he’d told stories of how he and his buddies would go up into the hills at Antrim and make poteen, the Irish equivalent of “moonshine” or home brew. Even then I had no idea that it was close to 100% alcohol! I had heard him remark that he was going to make some “one of these days.” I’d heard it so often that I was sick and tired of hearing it, as well as many other of his stories of this, that and the next thing that might or might not have been true. Well, when my mother said that Bill was making poteen, I couldn’t believe it. I thought he was doing his usual bragging with no truth to it—and that wouldn’t have been unusual!
As I sat talking with the women, basking in their remarks such as, “Oh, Ian, don’t ye look handsome in your Royal Air Force uniform,” my mother tried to get me to eat something. I told her that I was dead beat and just wanted to go to sleep. At this point, Bill came through, said hello to me and asked me to taste his “brew.” What he handed me was a glass tumbler with about four or five ounces of clear liquid in it. Not knowing it was so strong, I had almost downed the lot when Bill shouted, “Stop, stop, that’s all I’ve got.”
Because it looked so much like water, I had had no hesitation in drinking it. Remember, I was not accustomed to alcoholic drinks of any kind. I didn’t know at the time that I was drinking pure alcohol! There was about an ounce left for Bill after all his hard work. It had taken him two days to distill that small amount.
Shortly after this I started feeling a bit woozy, especially as I had virtually an empty stomach. A little while later I said “goodnight” to everyone and took myself off to bed. Stumbling to my room, I stripped off, hopped into bed completely naked and was asleep almost immediately.
The next morning I got up, surprisingly clearheaded, and wandered into the living room. There was a fine, white dust everywhere and I said to Mother, “What is this white powder all over the place.”
“Oh, that was ye last night, ye daft bugger,” she replied, in the middle of trying to clean things up. “Ye came through here aboot an hour after ye had gone to bed, absolutely naked, walked in between my two friends and peed all over the fire.”
            “You mean that Ah came through here, sleep-walking, stark naked, in front of Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. MacGregor? Me with no clothes on?” I was horrified!
            My mother continued. “Ye should have seen the steam that ye created, plus all the ash that went up into the air with it. There was a stifling white cloud all over the house, not to mention all over the three of us, and Ah think Ah’ll be dusting here for a month. We were afraid to waken ye in case we did something wrong!”
To add to my embarrassment was the fact that both of Mother’s visitors were strict Salvation Army believers. I realized that what they thought about my imbibing—my getting fully pissed—well, that was certainly somewhere above the forgiveness level. By then I must have been the talk of the town! Even a long time later, whenever I was home on leave and I saw either of those women on the street and heading my way, I would cross over to the other side—just a wee bit more than slightly embarrassed! Strangely, no one but Mother ever mentioned the incident to me.
Somehow, it seemed, my Salvation Army days were really over. To quote my mother, “Since ye joined the Royal Air Force, ye’ve gone tae the Devil!”
— quoted from “From Poverty To Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada,” p. 96-98, copyright © 2012, Ian Moore-Morrans.
AUTHOR IAN MOORE-MORRANS CHOSEN AS ONE OF “50 GREAT WRITERS YOU SHOULD BE READING” FOR 2013-2014

AUTHOR IAN MOORE-MORRANS CHOSEN AS ONE OF “50 GREAT WRITERS YOU SHOULD BE READING” FOR 2013-2014

50 Great Writers logoIan_Moore_HeadshotCover full sizeSee the Media Release that has just been published about Ian’s win by pressing here: In The News

AN INVITATION TO VOTE FOR IAN – 50 GREAT WRITERS YOU SHOULD BE READING

50 GREAT WRITERS YOU SHOULD BE READING – An Invitation to Vote for Ian Moore-Morrans

We are posting today because you may have received word in the past of our publication of Ian’s memoir, From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada. Perhaps you have ordered a copy of the book, received it as a gift, attended one of our book readings, read a borrowed copy, intended to buy a copy and never got to it, heard about it on Facebook or on this blog, and/or listened to Ian’s interview on The Author’s Show radio program online. Now we are announcing that Ian has entered a contest through The Author’s Show entitled 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading. We invite you to go to the following link:    http://www.wnbnetworkwest.com/WnbAuthorsShow50Writers2013-Contest-submissions.html     and check out Ian’s essay. The entries are listed alphabetically. Then, if you wish (and we hope you do) click on the voting link and vote for Ian.

Voting for the finalists phase is on now and will end on November 1, 2013. These votes come from the public that is being made aware of the contest through the combined efforts of The Authors Show’s ongoing marketing campaign and word put out by the authors themselves – in other words, by us. Our friends and family members are, of course, allowed to vote, as well as anyone else who wishes to do so. Both of us would really appreciate your vote.

Those named to the 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading for 2013/2014 will have their essays published in a book with that title. We’ve checked out some of the essays in the 2012 edition and find them fascinating, a great way to get introduced to a new book and a unique way to find out all about what makes authors tick and why they write. After conducting hundreds of interviews, it became apparent to the producers of The Authors Show that the number one issue common to most writers is the marketing of their books, rather than the writing and the production of the book itself. Boy, have we ever found that to be true! At least Gayle has. (Ian is sitting back and resting on his laurels, if that’s what you want to call it!)

As “THE AUTHORS MARKETING POWER HOUSE”, The Authors Show prides itself in giving authors a number of tools, many of which are free, to give their work the exposure they need.  50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading, gives these writers an added element for their book marketing campaign tool box, and presents to the reader some of the best writers this new world of publishing has to offer.

On a further note, we haven’t posted for quite a long time as Gayle has been in Norway visiting her family there and Ian has been in respite at a local care home. Now we are back at home and Gayle is beginning the layout of Ian’s children’s book, Jake, Little Jimmy and Big Louie which we have posted chapters of on this blog and which we hope to publish soon. If she works hard and fast enough it might even be ready for Christmas. We’ll keep you posted.

Best wishes to all,

Ian and Gayle Moore-Morrans

SHARING “HOW TO LURE YOUR MUSE WITH MUSIC AND OTHER QUIRKS”

An interesting post from Xlibris publishers writer’s workshop is quoted below. This really resonated with me as I use references to music, especially the Scottish folk music I’ve been singing for years, in my autobiography “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada.” I’ve also liked to whistle my favourite tunes while writing, or doing any other kind of work for that matter.

In the recent interview Gayle and I prepared for The Authors Show, the following question and answer were included:
” Q. You claim that musicianship is integral to your life. How is that reflected in your book?
A. When my wife/editor first read my story, she was struck by how much music was woven into the narrative. She encouraged me to expand on those instances, leading me to quote from songs or to fill out descriptions of the song connections with my own story. For instance, when I am describing my hometown Campbeltown, I mentioned the folk-song made most popular in the ‘60s by Scottish folk-singer Andy Stewart: ‘Campbeltown Loch, I Wish Ye Were Whisky.’ We were unsuccessful in getting permission to quote the whole song in my narrative. So the next best thing was to show how it impacted my life and then paraphrase the verses.
I eventually wrote the following: ‘As we were growing up, three or four of us boys would go arm in arm down the street singing the first few words—‘Campbeltown Loch, I wish ye were whisky’—that’s all we knew at the time. I like to think that Andy (Stewart) heard those few words sometime in Campbeltown and created a song around them. ‘Oh, Campbeltown Loch, I wish ye were whisky, Campbeltown Loch, och aye! Campbeltown Loch I wish ye were whisky, I would drink ye dry!’
‘The verses cleverly have the singer imagining how nice it would be if the loch were full up to the brim with whisky and he could anchor a yacht in the whisky-filled bay to go in for a nip and a dip ‘by night and by day.’ Clan gatherings would feature wading into the loch with toasts of ‘slainte bva’ (meaning ‘good health’). The only problem would be the police showing up in a boat and shouting, ‘Time, Gentlemen, please!’
‘I find this a fitting tongue-in-cheek ode to a town that once boasted of 30 distilleries and still produces at least two very fine brands of single malt whisky – Springbank and Glen Scotia.’”

Xlibris Presents How to Lure Your Muse with Music and Other Quirks

We’d be interested in hearing what other writers use to stimulate their creativity and to set an appropriate mood for writing. Why or how does music, the position you assume to write (standing/lying/sitting/reclining), your manner of clothing, the time of day, alcohol use, or other quirk or muse impact your writing? We’d love to hear from you.

Gayle mentions that in her magazine and program editing days, she always used a background of classical music to set an atmosphere appropriate to what she was editing. She recalls specifically editing a four-session Bible study on the Book of Revelation. Her background music? Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

SHARING AN AUTHOR INTERVIEW PREPARED FOR “THE AUTHOR SHOW” AUDIO PRESENTATION ON: the authorshow.com

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS prepared for THE AUTHORS SHOW, recorded on Thursday, February 14, 2013 and first aired on March 4, 2013.Cover full size

Interviewer: Don McCauley of The Authors Show, an internationally-acclaimed professional book marketing audio program in which selected authors are interviewed.

Interviewee: Ian Moore-Morrans, Scottish-Canadian author of an autobiography entitled: “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada”

The recorded version is presently being aired for 48 hours (March 4 and 5, 2013). It  will be available on this blog as soon as we receive and upload the MP3 copy. The Authors Show audio version is much shorter and less detailed than these prepared answers; in addition, several of the questions were not asked in the recorded version which very soon can be accessed on-line 24/7 for 12 months. The website is http://theauthorsshow.com. (Access to the audio version of the interview is on the “Non-fiction writers” page.)

I, the interviewee must admit that I became a bit flustered when the interview was taking place and being recorded. Instead of following the carefully prepared answers to the questions which the interviewer had furnished ahead of time, I scrapped my notes and “ad-libbed” the answers. My editor wife, who worked alongside me to formulate the answers and carefully rehearsed me through the scenerio several times beforehand, was a bit disappointed that I didn’t follow the script a bit better. Ah well, listeners will be able to hear my Scottish burr and hopefully understand the sincerity, if not the clarity, in my answers.

Q. Tell us about this book.

A. “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada” is the first volume of my autobiography. It begins with my childhood in Scotland during the 1930s and ‘40s—years of the Great Depression and World War II. I’m certain that my fatherless family was the poorest one in Campbeltown, a small fishing town in the Scottish Highlands. I describe our level of poverty as “abject” meaning “utter, hopeless, miserable, wretched, dismal and horrible.” Four of us lived in a 10-foot-by-10-foot attic room—Mother, Granny, my older brother and me. Life was a constant struggle to find food and keep ourselves warm. Often there was no money for both food and coal so we had to choose between the two.

My schooling was finished when I turned 14. Around that time my mother married a man from Northern Ireland and our lifestyle became a bit better. We moved from the lowliest of slums to a slightly-less-lowly slum. My teenage years were spent working as a blacksmith’s apprentice, joining the Army Cadets and playing in a Salvation Army band—and sometimes quitting the band because I got tired of not being able to go to movies or dancing.

At age 18, I joined the British Royal Air Force and served as an aircraft engine mechanic and bandsman in Britain and Egypt. My time in Egypt coincided with the first rumblings of the Suez Canal crisis and I was one of those unfortunate enlisted men who was ordered to learn how to make decent drinking water from the inaptly named “Sweet Water Canal”—after the Arab workers who had been treating the water for the entire British military force walked off the job.

After I returned to civilian life as a machinist in Scotland, I married and fathered two daughters. Then, I got itchy feet and considered immigrating to Australia. However, encouraged by two of my wife’s relatives who had earlier immigrated to Canada and misled by an unscrupulous Canadian official, my family and I immigrated to Canada in 1965. A promised job didn’t materialize and, naive me soon found out I’d been told a boldfaced lie about how inexpensive it was to buy a house in Canada. Misadventures in finding and keeping jobs and suitable accommodations lead me to conclude that we had only moved “from poverty to poverty.”

Q. Who did you write this book for?

A. For my descendants, friends and anyone who wanted to know what made me tick. My principle reason for writing my autobiography was that I had met so many people on the Canadian side of the Atlantic whose backgrounds were Scottish, Welsh, Irish or whatever, who had no idea who their grandparents or great-grandparents were, what they did or how they lived. Thus I decided that my descendants, friends and even strangers should get to know me, if they so desired.

Several times I had found myself checking out through a grocery counter and spoken a few words to the clerk. Upon hearing my Scottish “burr,” she would invariably ask me if I was Scottish and then tell me that her grandfather (or grandmother) was Scottish. When I asked her where the grandparent was, she would then tell me the relative was dead. When I inquired where in Scotland they came from, she didn’t know. She didn’t know anything about him or her—and that happened more than once. On arriving home one day from a little bit of grocery shopping, I told my wife, “I’m going to write my life story for my descendants to read—they should know who and what their grandfather did while he was alive.”

Q. Is there a central message in the book?

A. Yes, I think so. I’ve found that it is possible to overcome a negative lifestyle like poverty but, in order to do so, one has to have a lot of grit, perseverance, sometimes luck and even humor to get through it all.

Q.What is the most important idea you share in your book that will add value to the reader’s life?

A. Perhaps it is that one must look for humor in each and every situation. When all else fails, a good laugh and then, determining to pick yourself up and start anew, will help you deal with most things that life throws at you.

Q. If you could compare this book with any book out there we might already be familiar with, which book would it be and why?

A. When I first submitted my manuscript for critique by a few people in my Writer’s Group, several remarked that it reminded them of “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt. I had not even heard of McCourt’s book at the time so quickly bought a copy. They were certainly right  in that we both had appalling early lives of poverty—he in Ireland and me in Scotland. One could also say that we each, in our unique ways, were able to overcome our impoverished beginnings.

Q. Why did you choose the title “From Poverty to Poverty” for your book?

A. When my story started, I described living in appalling poverty in Scotland. Thirty years later I found myself again in poverty because of the misinformation about the opportunities of immigrating to Canada that I received from a Government of Ontario official in Glasgow. (Yes, by the time we had finally settled in Canada, we had a lot more “possessions” but they sure weren’t paid for! We were in debt up to our eyeballs!) I chose the title “From Poverty to Poverty” as I found it a perfect description for my life’s journey from 1932 until my first years in Canada. There I certainly found myself right back into poverty and, to make matters even harder to overcome, I had added three dependents!

Q. For readers of your book who have not experienced poverty in their lives, what one word do you think they would choose to describe your book?

A. (On the audio recording, Ian used the word “horrendous.”) “Eye-opening.” That’s the word my present wife and editor used after she first read my story before we were married almost 10 years ago. She was not brought up in poverty and was astonished and taken aback by all that I had experienced.

Q. You claim this book is an autobiography. Are all the stories in it true and all the characters taken from real life?

A. Yes, all of the stories are true. They, of course, are filtered through my own eyes and my own experiences so another person may interpret happenings from a different perspective. I’ve told of my own observations, experiences and occasionally things told to me by others or that I learned from school or research. In certain instances, I’ve chosen to change the names of people because I felt it necessary to protect their identity or maintain their privacy.

One prime example is the character I’ve chosen to call “Jock Campbel.” (In Britain, “Jock” is perhaps the most popular nickname for a Scotsman, just as “Mick” is for an Irishman.) As far as I know there never was a Jock Campbel who lived in Campbeltown during my time there or any other time. However, when I was a wee lad and our financial situation at home was even more dire than usual, my mother would occasionally ask me to go to that man and ask him to lend her ten shillings. This was about a dollar and a half, but it had a lot more buying power then than now. But before I would go she always cautioned me to wait until he was on his own. There never was any hesitation from him. Out would come his wallet and a ten-shilling note would be handed to me. As far as I know, my brother was never sent on a similar mission and I never thought to discuss it with him or even ask Mother why. That man was an upstanding member of the community and a married man with children. I never thought much about this strange mission until years later when some things my mother said about the man led me to wonder whether he could have been the man who sired me. I deal with that wondering in the sequel to this book which I call “Came to Canada, Eh?”—not yet published but in the editing process.

Q. You describe your early family life as rather disfunctional with no one showing affection to the others. How has this affected your adult role as husband and father?

A. I know my mother and grandmother cared very much for both my brother and me. We lived on welfare and Mother worked at degrading odd jobs on the sly to get a wee bit extra. She also put our hunger ahead of hers when there was little food to share. But none of us showed or spoke of any affection or caring toward the others. When we were growing up my brother was almost always either ignoring me or beating me up until I got big enough to defend myself.

Perhaps Mother and Granny had never been shown affection and didn’t know how to do so. And if they didn’t know how, my brother and I didn’t have a chance to learn by example. I don’t know where I learned it, maybe showing affection was something that just was innate in me and eventually came out when I had my own wife and children. As an adult I’ve made special efforts to tell my family members that I love and honor them and have always been ready and willing to take care of and help them to the best of my ability. I’m pleased to say that my brother and I were able to enjoy a cordial, though distant, friendship later in life.

Q. What role did your membership in the Salvation Army play in your early life?

A. It taught me how to live a respectable and God-fearing life. It gave me a place where I knew I belonged, was respected and valued (although I rebelled off and on at a lot of restrictions it placed on my choices of entertainment). Most importantly, it gave me an opportunity to learn to sing and play several instruments. Because of that I can truly say that my real avocation in life is music-making.

Q. Who influenced your early life the most and why?

A. A man called Jock McMillan. He was the band leader and music instructor at the Salvation Army in my hometown. Along with two of my pals, including his son, George, Jock taught us to read music and to play instruments. I learned to play the trumpet and trombone and spent a lot of time in my youth playing with the Salvation Army brass band. Then, after I joined the Royal Air Force, I played trumpet in military bands wherever I was stationed. For a period of almost sixty years (in Britain, Egypt and later in Canada) I played in military, dance and concert bands as well as in combos. I’ve continued singing Scottish folk songs for various festivals, parties and competitions even into my eighties, although my voice isn’t anywhere near as good now as it used to be.

Q. What was the greatest single decision in your life that started to lift you out of a life of poverty and how did it do so?

A. Quitting my apprenticeship to a drunken, cruel blacksmith and enlisting in the British Royal Air Force. Overnight I had three decent meals a day, a decent-paying job, a bed with sheets on it, all the decent clothing I needed and future prospects. Plus that, I could continue to play in a band and had money left over to send home to my mother to help her out a wee bit.

Q. I understand you use humor in your writing. How does this connect with the tragic circumstances of poverty?

A. Poverty is bad enough. If you can find anything humorous in whatever day-to-day happenings you encounter, then you should celebrate those things. Laughter can elevate you from the depressed hole of poverty – at least a wee bit. If you really look, there are comical aspects to a lot of things, even those that are essentially negative.

Q. What is your favorite humorous story in your book?

A. Soon after we immigrated to Canada, my wife Mary and I were at a dance in Toronto. A group of us were standing and chatting at the edge of the dance floor when I announced that I was going to the bar for a drink. When I returned, a young, good-looking woman put her arm through mine and I understood her to say, “I like the way you roll your arse!” (What we call “arse” in Britain is referred to as “ass” or rear end in North America.) I hesitated a little and looked down at one buttock and then the other, wondering what it was I did with my “arse” that got her attention. It wasn’t until I thoroughly thought about it that I realized that she was saying that she liked the way I rolled my “RRRRs!” I guess she enjoyed the Scottish accent. Boy, what a relief!

Q. You claim that musicianship is integral to your life. How is that reflected in your book?

A. When my wife/editor first read my story, she was struck by how much music was woven into the narrative. She encouraged me to expand on those instances, leading me to quote from songs or to fill out descriptions of the song connections with my own story. For instance, when I am describing my hometown Campbeltown, I mentioned the folk-song made most popular in the ‘60s by Scottish folk-singer Andy Stewart: “Campbeltown Loch, I Wish Ye Were Whisky.” We were unsuccessful in getting permission to quote the whole song in my narrative. So the next best thing was to show how it impacted my life and then paraphrase the verses.

I eventually wrote the following: “As we were growing up, three or four of us boys would go arm in arm down the street singing the first few words—‘Campbeltown Loch, I wish ye were whisky’—that’s all we knew at the time. I like to think that Andy (Stewart) heard those few words sometime in Campbeltown and created a song around them. ‘Oh, Campbeltown Loch, I wish ye were whisky, Campbeltown Loch, och aye! Campbeltown Loch I wish ye were whisky, I would drink ye dry!’

“The verses cleverly have the singer imagining how nice it would be if the loch were full up to the brim with whisky and he could anchor a yacht in the whisky-filled bay to go in for a nip and a dip ‘by night and by day.’ Clan gatherings would feature wading into the loch with toasts of ‘slainte bva’ (meaning ‘good health’). The only problem would be the police showing up in a boat and shouting, ‘Time, Gentlemen, please!’

“I find this a fitting tongue-in-cheek ode to a town that once boasted of 30 distilleries and still produces at least two very fine brands of single malt whisky – Springbank and Glen Scotia.”

 Q. Your book is permeated with “Scottishness.” Why would someone who has no Scottish connection want to read this book?

A. Lots of people like to read biographies or hear stories of other people’s personal experiences, especially if they are out-of-the-ordinary. It also seems to me that a lot of non-Scots show a curiosity about and interest in Scottish things like tartans, kilts (or what is or isn’t worn under them!), bagpipers, Robbie Burns suppers, Scottish parties called “caleidhs”, Highland games and the like. I hope they’d enjoy a first-hand account of one Scot’s unique experiences. We Scots are known as folksy and sometimes blunt people who put our own colorful slant to our language. I attempt to reflect that in my writing.

Q. I understand that you didn’t begin to write down your stories until you were age 63 and nearing retirement from years spent as a machinist.

A. Yes, I was too busy trying to make a living or playing in some band somewhere so I never took time to sit down to write until I was close to retirement. I quickly realized then that I’d have to learn to type and use a computer if I wanted to get anywhere with my writing. So I bought a used computer and a “teach yourself to type” tape and went to town on it. That’s me, though. I usually get enthusiastic about something new and go whole hog, plunging right in and damn the torpedoes!

Q. Have you always been a storyteller and what made you think you could be a writer?

A. When I tell about my early schooling, I bring up a memory of my English teacher, Miss Sharpe, telling me a couple of times during my school years that I should become a journalist after I finished school. (She had remarked often about the quality of my essays and compositions.) Huh, I thought at the time—‘me a journalist—me who had just about no clothes on my back! What a picture that would be—me in an office with holes in my shoes and no underwear!’

After I left home I always liked writing letters, telling of my latest experiences. I’ve always enjoyed relating stories and jokes— to anyone who would listen—most of which somehow related to something Scottish. Many people over the years have remarked, “You should write a book, Ian.” So now I’ve written several.

Q. Other than selling your book, what do you hope to accomplish with it?

A. I hope to give my own unique spin on understanding an impoverished life in the Scotland of the 1930s to 1950s; of the pre-Suez Canal crisis atmosphere in Egypt; of the joys of learning to play an instrument and joining a band. I hope that the reader will move from seeing me as a victim of poverty to seeing me overcome that life and also overcome the challenges that an immigrant faces.

Q. Who should buy this book?

A. People of any age from teens to seniors, especially those with interests in Scottish history, Scottish life, music-making, biography, and understanding the causes and consequences of poverty and immigration.

I might also add that lots of people enjoy books with pictures. “From Poverty to Poverty” is full of old photos taken by myself or others during the period of which I write. I’ve also added a few simple maps and drawings of the slum accommodations in which I first lived.

Q. Where can people buy your book?

A. Online at Amazon, or Friesen Press. – Links to these sellers are on my WordPress blog (ianmooremorrans.com). The book is also available for sale at the Highland Scottish Gift Shoppe in Calgary, Alberta, and at the Gallery Vertigo in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada or from most book sellers by special order. I also offer signed books for sale at book readings. The book is available as an e-book in PDF or Kindle format, as a paperback and also in hard cover format. The photos and maps are included in all versions.