16 November 2018 - HARRY ANDREW MILLER - GUEST WRITER





HARRY ANDREW MILLER 
- GUEST WRITER -

G'day folks,

Today, I interview an aspiring young writer from my home State of Victoria.

Welcome, Harry ...



1.   TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
First of all, hello Clancy, and thank you for allowing me to guest post on your blog! My name is Harry Andrew Miller, and I am a 25-year-old from regional Victoria, in Australia. Recently, I’ve begun my own freelance writing business, where I specialise in writing about anything and everything history related! I find history so fascinating to learn about and, as a result, I love writing about it. My favourite areas to write about include twentieth century history, and the First World War.


2.   WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember! When I was a child, I used to write as frequently as I could. I remember, in primary school, I used to write summaries of the latest movies I had seen, and video games that I had played. It wasn’t detailed, by any account, but I just felt this desire to write whenever I got the chance. I’ve recently graduated from university, with a Bachelor of Education, and a Diploma of Language and Culture, and both degrees allowed me to flex my creative muscles, and gave me the opportunity to write in a variety of ways, on a variety of topics, which I really appreciated.

3.   WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO WHEN WRITING? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
Recently, I wrote a short, commissioned piece on the burial crisis, and the idea that the planet is running out of space to bury our dead. For that piece, quite a lot of the research was already done for me, so I simply had to read the research, find relevant quotes, and write the document, which was quite cathartic actually! Normally, I will do a short amount of research, before deciding on a rough outline of what I want to write. Once that is done, I will see if there are any areas that need further research, and remedy that as needed. I’m not sure how other writers go about it but, for me, research is a continual process. As I’m writing, I constantly find myself scouring the internet for quotes, or sources to back up what I’m saying. I guess, as a history writer, research and preparation forms a larger part of the process than, say, writing a fantasy novel, where the story is yours to create, but I would imagine that research and preparation would still be quite a continual process.

4.   WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
The variety. As a freelance history writer, I am able to write on a variety of different topics, from the fall of the Roman Empire, to the First World War, to the Cold War. Anything is up for grabs. I’ve also begun to branch out, and try different things. I recently wrote a review for a novella I was reading, and I’m starting to take photos of historical sites I visit, so I can create a photo collage and display that on my website. I really enjoy the wide variety of content I can create, as it allows me to display my range of skills. Connecting with other writers, on social media sites such as Twitter, is also an amazing feeling. And really makes me feel connected to the community.




5.   WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
For me, the hardest thing would have to be prompting myself to write continuously. I get distracted sometimes, and its so easy for me to say to myself “Okay we’ve done twenty minutes of writing, time to check Twitter.” So, to prevent this, I have to set goals for myself and prompt myself to keep writing until I achieve those goals. It’s a hard process, especially when working at home, but I know that I have the discipline to achieve my goals.

6.   WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
For a long time, I wanted to become a history teacher, believe it or not! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about history, and I thought I would enjoy teaching history as well. Alas, it was not for me, I was more interested in the raw content, than the actual act of teaching. When I decided to become a freelance history writer, it was as if a whole new world opened up to me. I realised I could engage with the raw history content, and learn as I wrote. It was really eye opening for me.

7.   WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Currently I’m working hard on pitching to various history magazines and sites, trying to show off my skills, and get my name out there. I’m also reading a few historical books, so I can review them for my website, and assembling a collection of photographs of historical sites I visit, so I can display them on my website. It’s a lot of little projects at once, but I feel really confident and enthusiastic that people will love it all!

8.   WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Seeing other writers going through the same thing as me, and feeling the same feelings. We all have days of self-doubt, of “Am I doing the right thing?” “Did I make the right choice?” “What if I fail?” and, when I see other writers discuss going through the same thing, it makes me feel confident. We’re all in this together, and we’re all trying to achieve something, and that is amazing!

9.   WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
As a history writer, I’ve naturally gravitated towards academic non-fiction, so I can write essays, biographies, summaries, etc. But recently, I’ve began to explore other types of historical writing, like creative nonfiction. I’m also reading some historical fiction books at the moment, and its really inspired me to try my hand at writing some short-form historical fiction. So, who knows, we may see some of that from me in the future!

10.              DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
I’m a new writer myself, so please don’t take any of my tips as gospel. But, at least from my experience, the greatest thing a new writer can do is have a close circle of friends to rely on. When I created my website, and set up my business facebook page, my friends liked it, and shared it on social media, and it really helped to get my name out there. Friends are also able to read over your work, for when you need a second pair of eyes, and they’re able to give you accurate and constructive feedback. More than anything else, I believe having a close group of friends is instrumental in becoming a new writer.




11.              DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
I don’t know if I would say I suffer from writer’s block, but I definitely have times where I feel like it is impossible to get the words in my head onto paper. When that happens, I usually don’t try to force it, because it will just stress me out. I usually distract myself for a bit by either watching a movie, or hanging out with friends. Then, later on, I can come back to my writing and feel refreshed, and ready to give it another try.

12.              DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I work early in the morning, so I prefer to do most of my writing towards the end of the day, after the sun has set. It is at this time that I feel relaxed, I don’t have to deal with any other issues, and I can just focus on my writing.

13.              DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I like to do most of my writing in my room, because its where I feel my most comfortable. As my writing becomes more full-time, I would ideally like to set up a home office, as I think that would help me maintain more of a ‘professional’ mindset, so I wouldn’t become distracted as often.

14.              WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
As a history writer, I really enjoy writing on a variety of different topics, because it allows me to explore different historical periods. I’m currently researching the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an event which sparked the First World War, and its really fascinating to read recounts of the event, from people who were there at the time. Learning about what happened in history, and how events played out, is probably my greatest joy.


15.              OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Apart from writing, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, going on long drives, taking photos of historical sites, or beautiful landscapes, and watching new movies and tv shows. If its something that can be done with a couple of close friends, I’m usually there!

16.              DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
My perfect day would involve me inside, with a couple of close friends, watching something on Netflix, with bowls of food and wine, as it rains outside. I love that ‘cozy’ feeling, and my perfect day would definitely involve me feeling cozy, and not having to worry about life’s stresses for a few hours.

17.              IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
I suppose everyone would normally want to be stranded with a famous person, but I would love to be stranded with my brother. He’s fifteen years younger than me, and we fight sometimes, but I honestly love him more than anyone else in the world. He is smart, funny, and we like the same types of things. If anyone could keep me from getting bored on a desert island, it would have to be my brother!




18.              WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
I think I would simply ask them to “Prove it,” to prove their claims. So many leaders do things, often going against the best interests of the public, and they aren’t always properly scrutinised for them. In Australia, the government often accepts handouts and funding from the coal industry, even though coal powered plants are often less effective, and less environmentally friendly, than some of the alternatives. As much as our leaders claim that coal is ‘clean’ and is the best choice, we know it isn’t. I would ask our leaders to prove their claims, and to prove that what they’re saying isn’t just a thinly veiled lie.

19.              WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
In the near future, I want to create more pitches for websites and magazines, as well as create a photo collage for my website. Then I want to read more historical books, and begin reviewing them for my site. Long term, I guess I want to become more successful with my freelance writing, to the point where I could make it my full-time job. I know that is still a distant dream at this point, but it is nice to have something to work towards.

20.              DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
I’ve only been a freelance writer for a short time, at this point, but I would say there are definitely days where I feel deflated, and feel like quitting. Its stressful to put yourself out there, and risk having your work criticised and, when you get less than stellar feedback, its always frustrating and disappointing. On days like those, I know I have to remind myself that not everyone will enjoy what I do, but the real joy is in finding those who do. Those are the people I want to write for!

21.               HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
I suppose it depends on what your goal is. For me, my goal is to eventually become sufficient enough that I can make freelance writing my fulltime career. So that is what success will look like, to me. For others, success may mean getting a manuscript published, or completing their manuscript in the first place. I guess that, no matter what our goals are, we are already successful, because we have put ourselves out there, and taken a risk in becoming writers!

22.              WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR CONTENT KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
Ultimately, my historical content is meant to inform, but I also like to think it will engage readers, and make them interested in history. If anything, I want readers to feel like history isn’t just some old facts, learned in classrooms. It is a living, breathing thing, with tangible, real world lessons. I want readers to become invested and interested in history!

23.              WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
Getting my name out there, and promoting my brand, has definitely been a challenge. Its hard to start from nothing, from zero followers, and try to build up a sizable fanbase. Its at this point where close friends are really helpful. Friends can help by sharing your website, and promoting your social media pages to their friends. It may be a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction, and it definitely helps get your brand off the ground.

24.              DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Less organized than I appear!

25.              WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Maybe this is an obvious, or a common, answer, but I get really annoyed by people who don’t put in the effort. I’ve had friends in the past who would never put in the effort to speak to me, or to engage with me, and its so disheartening. Fortunately now, the friends I have are genuine, and they genuinely want to interact with me!




26.              WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
The last book I read (and reviewed on my site!) is a novella known as ‘The Sins of Jubal Cooper.’ It’s a compelling, little novella by Mary Lingerfelt, set during the Great Depression, and its actually really good!

27.               WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
Harry died the way he lived: Happy.

28.               WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
I’m not too sure. I feel really content with life right now. I have good friends, a close family, and I feel confident about my freelance writing business. Sometimes I tend to overthink things, especially in regards to relationships, and I’d probably be a lot less stressed if I didn’t do that. But every day is a new learning experience, and I look forward to each new day!

29.               ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Yes! If you like what you’ve read, or if you want to know more about me, feel free to visit my website at www.harryandrewmiller.com
There’s a link to all of my social media accounts there, and I’d be so grateful if you could follow me. If you do, send me a message to let me know that you came from here, so I know how you found me, that would really help me out! My website has samples of my written work, as well as my (semi) frequent blog, where I post about anything and everything related to history writing. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you enjoyed reading about me today!









 Clancy's comment: Go, Harry! Thank you. Keep going. 

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15 November 2018 - ABANDONED CASTLE WITH HISTORY IN SCOTLAND


ABANDONED CASTLE 
WITH HISTORY
 IN SCOTLAND

G'day folks,

Yep, here is another abandoned structure. This one is in Scotland. 


She’s been asleep for over half a century. Cocooned by a forest, half swallowed by nature’s encroaching fingers. A forgotten castle in the Scottish Highlands, waiting for its story to continue or find an ending. Such places do exist, you just have to be curious enough to find them.




So you want to know where it is. Locals in Stirlingshire, Scotland know her as Buchanan Castle. She’s the elephant in the room in their quaint country village.

Built in 1852, the castle was commissioned by James Graham, 4th Duke of Montrose and it became the home for the Montrose family, and remained as such until the 1920s. James’ father was the 3rd Duke of Montrose, the man responsible for the persuading Parliament to remove the law forbidding Scots to wear tartan and the traditional highland dress. It remains the seat of the Clan Graham to this day.

The Montrose family owned the castle until 1925 when it was sold and opened as a hotel in the 1930s with a golf course. The outbreak of World War II delayed further plans for residential development on the estate, at which time the house was requisitioned as a hospital.






Rudolf Hess, a prominent politician in Nazi Germany, appointed Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler in 1933, was a patient at the Buchanan castle’s makeshift hospital in 1941 after he flew solo to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the United Kingdom. He crash landed his plane, injuring his foot and was taken prisoner, convicted of crimes against peace. He was sentenced to serve a life sentence until his death by suicide. Hitler had ordered the German press to characterise Hess as a madman gone rogue when he realised the blundered mission might leave his allies, Italy and Japan, suspicious that the Führer was trying to secretly open peace negotiations with the British.





After the war, the building served briefly as the Army School of Education and in 1954 the roof was removed from the house and outlying parts of the building were demolished. Removing the roof of a house would deem a property uninhabitable by the government and avoid the burden of taxes on a house that was no longer wanted. A number of residential buildings were subsequently built in the castle gardens and grounds.

As recently as 2002 and 2004, redevelopment proposals were put forward for the category B listed building to be restored and turned into residential flats, but those plans were refused. The castle is currently included on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland.


 Clancy's comment: Wow. Yet, another deserted property, eh? What a waste.

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