Guest Feature – Valerie Poore

It gives me great pleasure today to invite author, Valerie Poore, over to Patricia’s Pen to discuss her non fiction writing. Without further ado, it’s over to Valerie.

Writing Memoir

Valerie Poore

Anyone can write a memoir.

That’s a bold statement, isn’t it?

Even so, I think it’s true – although most people I speak to are convinced their life hasn’t been interesting enough to write about. I’d actually challenge that though. In my encounters with the great variety of individuals I meet in my job as a freelance teacher, I’ve learned that nearly everyone has some kind of interesting story to tell. And if that’s the case, then in theory everyone has the potential to write a memoir. I have to say I love reading them too, which in turn means that I also enjoy writing them.

But what was it that inspired me to write my own memoirs and why did I do it?

My first book, African Ways, was inspired by Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. I read it in 2005 after I’d been living in the Netherlands for a few years and as I read, I was reminded of the wonderful rural people I’d known and loved while living in South Africa during the 1980s and 1990s.

It occurred to me that rural people are similar wherever you go, whether in France, England, Spain or Africa. I knew I’d had a special introduction to South Africa on a farm in what is now KwaZulu Natal. So, when I finished Peter Mayle’s book, I realised I wanted to write about the people I’d known there and what it was like to move from the mod-cons of 1980s UK to a somewhat primitive rural environment.

This idea was my prompt to start writing, and since African Ways, I’ve written two other memoirs about my life in South Africa and five about living and travelling on a barge in northern Europe. Each of these books covers a specific period but none of them is a complete autobiography so I’ve been able to focus on different aspects of where I’ve lived and what I do.

I can’t say I set out to lead the life I have as I’m something of an accidental traveller. I also didn’t actually intend to write so many memoirs.  But what I’ve noticed is that people are interested in other people’s experiences if they’re different from their own, so transferring from a remote African farm to Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest, baddest city was another adventure to share. And then moving back across the world to land up (or water up) on an old barge in the Netherlands was added fuel for my writing hobby.

My destinations have at least been unusual and because I adored South Africa, I could write about it with immense affection. The same goes for my watery world. Restoring an old and decrepit Dutch barge and converting it to a home was a huge learning curve, but I loved and still love it. In fact, my latest boating travelogue about our pre-Covid travels to France is just about to be launched and I write about our boating life regularly on my blog.


About Valerie Poore

Val Poore was born and raised in England but at the end of 1981, she moved to South Africa where she and her family lived for nearly twenty years. She adored South Africa, but had to return to Europe in 2001. Since then, she’s been working as a freelance ESL writing skills teacher in the Netherlands. Val shares her time between a 120-year-old barge in Rotterdam and a cottage in Zeeland, both of which seem to take an inordinate amount of time to maintain. As a distraction from teaching, she writes and has written a total of eleven books.


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21 thoughts on “Guest Feature – Valerie Poore

  1. vallypee April 27, 2021 / 2:25 pm

    Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Patricia! It was lovely to chat a bit about memoir writing and why I love to both read and write them. Mind you, I think I’ve written about everything I can in that area now. I shall now be moving on to ‘fictional memoirs’ for those periods I can’t remember well enough to write memoirs about.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia M Osborne April 27, 2021 / 2:38 pm

    It was a pleasure. I look forward to welcoming you back to ‘Patricia’s Pen’ to chat about your fiction books.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LorraineThomas April 27, 2021 / 2:50 pm

    I am so glad that Val has written her memoirs especially about her experiences in South Africa. So many of them are similar to my own so reading these books has given me an an enormous amount of pleasure. The way she describes the people, the scenery and the lifestyle transports me straight back to my time in that magical far off land. Thank you Val. 💕😁

    Liked by 2 people

    • Patricia M Osborne April 27, 2021 / 3:00 pm

      That’s wonderful to hear, Lorraine. Thank you so much for commenting. I am sure Val will be along to respond in due course.


    • vallypee April 27, 2021 / 4:17 pm

      Ah, Lorraine, you and I are such kindred spirits. Africa will always be in our blood and I’m so pleased my books took you there again. I still have more to write about Africa, but I think it will be sort of fiction based on fact 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. amybovairdauthor April 27, 2021 / 5:03 pm

    Hi Patricia and Val,
    Wonderful guest post! Thank you for this! I can relate! I am an accidental traveler, too, and live-er abroad (I wanted to say liver but that made me think of ‘chopped liver’ and the expression; “What do you think I am chopped liver?” which made me laugh) which is not what I was going for! I need to read more of your books. Always love reading about you and your experiences!
    Thanks to both of you for this post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • vallypee April 27, 2021 / 6:07 pm

      Amy, you did make me laugh. I am a liver boarder too and also a liver broader! Wonderful. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dawne Archer April 27, 2021 / 5:19 pm

    I really enjoy Val’s books. They are all full of gentle humour, a love for the place (South Africa or her beloved barge) and I have found all those I have read to be so interesting. I have saved a couple of her books as a treat to myself but this lovely guest blog has me itching to go back to them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Patricia M Osborne April 27, 2021 / 5:36 pm

      That’s wonderful, Dawne, that this blog post has prompted you to go back to Val’s books. I am sure Val will be pleased. Thank you so much for commenting.


    • vallypee April 27, 2021 / 6:09 pm

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Dawne. You have been an inspiration to me too, in so many ways!


    • Patricia M Osborne April 27, 2021 / 6:40 pm

      Thank you for commenting, Stephanie. Val will be back on Patricia’s Pen this November discussing fiction.


  6. Terry Tyler April 29, 2021 / 7:28 am

    Ah, but you don’t see it, Val – the reason YOUR memoirs are so delightful and engaging is because you have the talent to tap into people’s minds and emotions with your words. Not everyone has this. You have that Bill Bryson-esque gift for making the everyday fascinating to read about. It’s actually quite rare!!


    • vallypee May 2, 2021 / 8:26 am

      Thank you, Terry. I’ve just seen your comment here and it’s warmed the old cockles, it has. I like the idea of tapping into people’s feelings, and I always hope I can. I’m not sure it always works and I guess it depends on the subject. I’m often surprised when non-boaty people like my barging books, and of course some of them don’t (and say so…haha) but it’s lovely when that connection is made and readers can relate.


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