Since it’s my turn to host Liam today, we thought we’d try something a little different. So here is an interview with James, one of the people from Liam Livings’ latest release, Heat Wave Astoria. James, are you comfortable here? Would you like anything to drink? Tea, coffee, gin?
James: tea would be lovely. Do you know how to make it properly?
Elin: I do, thank you very much -shakes head slowly, hands over perfectly brewed cup of tea- I must say, that’s a lovely jacket you’re wearing, where did you get it from?
James: I made it myself.
Elin: you quilted your own jacket?
James: -blushing- I did. -takes sip of tea, looks away-
Elin: -looks at notes- Can you tell me what took you to America in the first place?
James: I was on this project called Snowflake. It’s an operating system for computers. It’s all to do with the internet of things, and mobile technology and ensuring usability for devices is transferrable across a number of platforms.
Elin: -blinks, peers over glasses, checks questions- Right. To what extent is that linked to your interest in quilting? It’s not every day you meet a man who can carry off such a dashing jacket, who’s also made it himself.
James: -adjusts jacket, picks bit of fluff off shoulder, takes sip of tea- it’s my thing I suppose.
Elin: could you tell us a bit more about how it’s your thing please?
James: I spend all day up to my neck in computer code, in user testability studies, in working out how to de-bug programmes and when I get home in the evening I wanted something completely different to do.
Elin: yes, and how did you come across quilting?
James: one weekend when I realised I’d not left my place for almost 24hours I went to a nearby village, where they had a craft fair. Normally I hate that sort of thing. -shakes head-
Elin: -peers over glasses- and why is that?
James: people. People everywhere. Talking. Asking questions, wanting to talk. -shudders-
Elin: – joins in the shudder – but this time, it was different, right? This time you knew you’d found your people and your calling and you struck up a conversation with someone about quilting? Am I right?
James: not really, I’m afraid. I’d plotted the best route to take to cover all the stands at the craft fair, while interacting with as few people as possible. I’ve got an app on my phone that calculates the best route. And as I was just about to walk back to my car, pleased with myself for not talking to a single person the whole time I was at the fair, I bumped into someone. Not sure why I bumped into someone actually. I’d worked out the optimum route to get back to the car avoiding people. And even so, there was someone in my way.
Elin: were you staring at your phone by any chance?
James: yes I was! How did you know?
Elin: -shuffles papers- women’s intuition.
James: yes, someone once tried to persuade me that really existed. I said there was no research that pointed to that conclusion, but she wasn’t too happy to hear that. When I told my brother, he said I shouldn’t have told her that. But I don’t know why.
Elin: -leaning forward, motioning for him to continue- you bumped into someone, and what happened, who was this person?
James: a woman, probably same age as you, maybe younger, carrying a wicker basket of materials and cottons and needles. She was taking some of the quilting materials back to her house. Of course I apologised for bumping into her. Although technically it was her fault, I am a gentleman.
James: she wanted to talk to me. I don’t know why, she didn’t know me, and I tried to walk away, but she continued talking to me and telling me all about the quilting, the boxes, the materials. Somehow, I don’t know how, I was returning to her stall where she showed me more about how it all worked. The patterns, they were what really got me interested. It shows you exactly where to sew, which bits, and how it’ll look when it’s finished. It’s very systematic. -snaps fingers- women’s intuition, I’m sure that’s what she’d say persuaded me to follow her back to her stand.
Elin: or something similar. And then what happened?
James: this woman, I forget her name. I don’t need to remember it because I have her number in my phone and I know her number, so that reminds me to check my phone for her name before I meet her. People like it if you remember their name don’t they?
Elin: yes, they do.
James: -showing his mobile phone- her number is zero seven, nine…
Elin: -putting hand on his arm- thanks, but no need, James dear.
James: before I knew it, I was going to her monthly meetings in a primary school on Saturdays. We sit there in the classroom, there are no children, because it’s the weekend, and we sew, knit and quilt and talk. I don’t talk too much. They tend to talk around me and I concentrate on my pattern, and asking any questions I have about the quilting. Once I finished the first quilt I tried another one, and another one, and before long I was asking her, this woman. Now, what is her name…Anyway, asking her if I could make a jacket out of quilting, would that, technically, be possible.
Elin: and you’re wearing it now.
James: I love it. Turns out not everyone felt the same, but I’d better not say more because, spoilers…I’ve been warned about those by Liam Livings. He was very clear on that point.
Elin: what have you learned since living in America?
James: most Americans do not know how to make a decent cup of tea. Not one clue. There was a whole incident with luke warm water and creamer in a hotel in Astoria, but I’d better not go into that or spoilers…
Elin: I’m sure you can tell us about that without spoiling the whole story about you and Brad. -smiling-
James: I asked the hotel for something to boil water. A tea kettle they call it apparently. And once I had that I asked for some milk to put in my tea. The hotel receptionist told me to use creamer. Creamer in tea. I almost walked out. I didn’t know what to say to her. She repeated down the phone there was creamer and told me to have a nice day. Have a nice day? With creamer in my tea? How on earth did she expect me to do that?
Elin: impossible! what else have you learned since living in America?
James: so much about people. About the kindness of people. About how sometimes when you have a list of things you must do, sometimes they end up not being important. And how sometimes what you thought was important can turn out not to be important at all. That things are less important than people. That complicated and messy isn’t always a bad thing. And to be grateful when you find the right sort of person. I mean people. You know what I mean. I hope I’ve not…spoilers.
Elin: I don’t think you have, James. It’s been lovely to meet you, James. Do you think you’d make me a jacket like yours if I paid you for time and materials? I used to quilt, but don’t seem to have the time now.
James: no. I don’t take commissions.
Elin: and on that note, I think we’ll close the interview.
If anyone would like a chance of winning an ebook copy of one of Liam Livings’ books, please respond in the comments to this question: What things have you learned from travelling?
Heat Wave Astoria by Liam Livings
Brad’s shop is known as the most popular tourist attraction for certain men in his home town, Astoria. Brad doesn’t do relationships – why would he? Brad is an unashamed slut, and he loves it.
British IT programmer, James is much happier working with software and computers than people. He finds escape in his encyclopaedic knowledge of childhood films like The Goonies & Short Circuit.
When James walks into a quilting shop in Astoria, he decides he’ll take his brother’s advice and talk to the stranger. That stranger is Brad, melting slowly behind the counter during the longest heat wave America’s had in years.
Can a man who thinks in binary code and always plans things to the finest degree, cope with the twists and turns of emotions? Can someone who never thinks before he leaps allow himself to leap into the biggest unknown, a relationship? And how will they cope with James’ impending return to England?
Can two men who never to meet learn to embrace the whole messy relationship that love brings into their lives?
About Liam Livings
Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He escapes from real life with a guilty pleasure book, cries at a sad, funny and camp film – and he’s been known to watch an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.
He has written since he was a teenager, started writing with the hope of publication in 2011. His writing focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle.
You can connect with Liam