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Record your life story

A LOCAL author is offering a personal book writing service for local people who have always wanted to record their life story, but don’t have the time or the skills to do it themselves.  

Mandy Bloom from Keinton Mandeville near Somerton is assisting clients who wish to have a written account of their lives to pass down to younger generations of their family. 

Mandy trained as a journalist after leaving school over 30 years ago and has written for local, regional and national publications. She also worked as the press officer for Royal Bath and West Show in the 1990s. 

Now she is running a business helping people to produce an entire book about themselves or their family.  She carries out personal interviews with the subject and then transcribes these and creates a unique book for them, usually illustrated with a selection of family photographs. 

“One of the most exciting aspects of the work is having the chance to delve into dusty boxes of old photographs” she said.  “People are always amazed how well these reproduce in a modern publication and they really help to bring the stories of their ancestors alive. The oldest family photograph I have come across so far dates back to the mid 1800s, this was a faded sepia print, but became clearer after being scanned in digitally and printed in a book.”

“Many of my clients are now in their 80s or 90s, so they were often born between the two world wars.  This means that their own parents were probably born around the turn of the 20th Century – and their grandparents are likely to have been typical Victorians.  I have heard some lovely memories of stern grandmothers dressed up in austere long black dresses, and grandfathers with pocket watches.”

“If these small details of everyday life aren’t recorded now, the time will come when these memories will vanish forever from within families.  

“Stories of everyday household chores, food rationing and how families ‘made do’ are particularly fascinating. Of course many people didn’t have even one car in their household, so they have fond memories of their first family motor!”

Although she can help with writing, organising information and ensuring the book flows well, Mandy believes it is important that the story is told as much as possible in the subject’s own words, and so reflects their personality.   As well as writing the book with the client, Mandy provides a full editing, design and print service, and says that the whole project is considerably cheaper than employing larger memoir companies who have staff and overheads.  “This also means that the individual can see the publication developing after each installment has been added, and at the end of the process I have the pleasure of delivering the books in person.

“I also work with people who have already written their story themselves – whether by hand or on a typewriter or computer, and can take their manuscript away and turn it into a full colour hardback or paperback book.”  She says there is no minimum size for a memoir, almost anything is possible; and although most people order ten or more copies, clients can just have a single copy printed for posterity, if they wish.

Books that Mandy has produced recently have included the history of Monkton Elm Garden Centre; and stories of local people including the founder of Beehive Self-Storage; a BMP in 1950s Berlin; a Somerton man with an RAF and teaching career; and the diaries of a family living in Ghana in the 1980s.

Top: Mandy’s father – taken at Southwold, Suffolk, the day War broke out.

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