Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
This is likely to be one of my all time favourite posts to share with you!
The author of ‘An Armful of Animals’ has kindly agreed to answer questions and his replies are fantastic – especially to one about the Anaconda IMHO. After reading his responses I couldn’t resist getting a copy of his book – hope you enjoy this, too, and maybe it’ll tempt you to get a copy as well.
Title: An Armful of Animals
Author: Malcolm Welshman
Release Date: 31st August 2018
Publisher: Midas Touch Books
Malcolm D. Welshman has had a lifetime filled with exciting encounters with animals. As a lad in Nigeria, he is attacked by soldier ants and terrified by a snake in his treehouse. His treasured companion, Poucher, an African bush dog, prevents him and his mother from being savaged by baboons.
Once qualified as a vet Malcolm has to attempt life-saving surgery on his beloved parrot. On a road trip across the Sahara, there is a tussle with a lame camel and the operation on an Ostrich gored by an antelope.
Settling back in West Sussex in England, he tackles a cow that’s got stuck in a tree, wily cats and battles with cunning badgers and baby bats.
He shares all these fascinating experiences in this gently humorous memoir that will guarantee to tug at the heart strings while bringing a smile to your face. Anyone who loves animals will be enchanted and enthralled.
Maybe his answers to the following questions will give you a taste of his humour and, hopefully, put a smile on your face like they did mine 🙂
What is your favourite thing about writing books?
As my writing involves a series of animal anecdotes, I find it fascinating to research the experiences other vets have had and learn how they’ve coped with similar situations to me. In the context of a novel, such stories have then to be threaded with the characters that are involved in those tales. It’s intriguing to find these characters can take over with a mind of their own and steer the narrative in directions I may not have considered.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
I’m a big tea drinker. So this would be my main beverage during sessions of writing. However, there’s the danger of taking breaks for the sake of it – as a distraction from the process of writing especially if hitting a difficult patch when it can be an excuse to stop writing.
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
One of the main things you should make sure you do when writing, is not to go back over what you’ve just written, change it around, check on spelling. It’s far more important to get on with the story, keep the flow going, rather than stop-start. I confess to being guilty of doing just that far more frequently than I should. It’s a bad habit and can endanger the creative momentum.
How do you research your books?
As mentioned above, I do dip into the books written by other vets and also authors like Gerald Durrell, who have written about animals. And I keep an eye open for news items involving animals which could be adapted for use as story lines.
What is your favourite animal?
Of all the many animals I’ve encountered over the years, the one I most admire and respect is the African elephant. Not that I’ve treated one. But to see them in the wild is awe-inspiring. I was once on a safari in Botswana, and was trekking across an island in the Okavango Delta, when we spotted a small herd of five elephants crossing the river towards us. We slipped behind some acacia trees and watched as they hauled themselves up the bank and lumbered slowly past us only yards away. Considering their size, they were quiet and graceful in their movements. Magical. Then of course there’s that special moment at the end of the expedition across Africa and down to Amboseli, Kenya, intent on seeing elephants with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background. At the moment that occurred I asked Maxeen to be my wife. So making the elephant an even more special animal to be treasured.
Have you have any pets of your own?
We’ve had seven rescue dogs over the years. One Arthur-Rex, a Chihuahua-cross terrier we brought back from Tobago. Our current rescue is Dora, a Yorkie-cross that we acquired through appearing in a National Geo TV programme where Cesar Milan, the US dog whisperer, assessed the suitability of various couples to take on Dora as their furpal. We were the lucky ones to be Dora’s forever home.
When we had a small holding, we had a variety of animals: at one stage, 13 Shetlands as part of a small breeding herd: 15 llamas: seven sheep:
What one story would you tell to someone asking about your job?
There was the time I was presented with an anaconda that had swallowed a heating pad. A 13 amp plug was sticking out of the its mouth. I wanted to X ray the snake but as it was rather lively I decided to coil it up in the fridge to cool it down and make it easier to handle. Only I forgot to tell our receptionist about it. So when she went to get the semi-skimmed milk for tea she had an almighty shock when opening the fridge door. After X-raying the anaconda,I judged it best to give it liquid paraffin rather than opening it up to remove the heating pad.. After three days the pad was passed. We were all delighted. Especially the owner, who phoned to say he’d wired a new plug on the pad and that it still worked.
What words of wisdom do you have for anyone who wants to become a vet?
With any job that involved working with animals, you do have to have empathy with them. Respect they are living creatures with feelings. They can be nervous, angry, in bad moods. This is especially true if you are wanting to be a vet since in that profession, you will often be confronted with animals that are ill and in distress; and so a caring, compassionate manner is essential in dealing with them and goes hand-in-hand with the knowledge and skills acquired during university training.
Malcolm Welshman is a retired vet and author. He was the My Weekly vet for 15 years and has written many features for magazines such as She, The Lady, The People’s Friend, Cat World, Yours, and newspapers such as The Sunday Times and the Daily Mail.
He is the author of three pet novels, the first of which, Pets in a Pickle, reached number two on Kindle’s bestseller list. His third novel, Pets Aplenty, was a finalist for The People’s Book Prize 2015.
A memoir, An Armful of Animals, was published in September 2018; and through a collection of twenty stories tells how animals have shaped his life as a vet. Malcolm is also an international speaker on cruise ships, a regular BBC Radio Somerset panellist, and a bi-monthly contributor to a local community radio, Keep 106 in Dorset.
Tuesday 23rd October Jazzy Book Reviews
Thursday 25th October The Writing Greyhound
Saturday 27th October Luna’s Little Library