Dislocated hips and sex moves with Ingrid Arlington
If you feel any of my questions are to personal, please tell me and we can skip them…
“LOL -To personal? Once you have told people how someone nearly dislocated your hip with their sex moves and spat on your vag in your memoir, nothing is personal anymore although that might have been an overshare for you!”
Colin Chester chats with Ingrid Arlington, South African Author, about her new book “Kinky Roots” , the creative process, her life growing up in Southern Africa, the challenges she faced as a woman of colour in the IT Industry, and gets advice for those wanting to pen their own novels.
(IA) Well, I am a wife, a mum to two little dogs and a Cybersecurity Consultant by day.
I love food, being in nature, gothic, renaissance and Victorian architecture, travelling and capturing it all on camera.
When I am not working, I am writing or figuring out the intricacies of publishing a work – otherwise, I am hot-tubbing in the garden, listening to one of my many playlists or being emotionally caught up in a rom-com.
(CC) Where were you born, where did you grow up, family (siblings etc)
(IA) I grew up in Zimbabwe – spent the first 16 or so years of my life there before living in South Africa for 12 years.
I am an only child between my mother and R.D. (Runaway Dad) but I have five half-siblings, two of whom have since passed away.
I have a large family on all sides, some close, some not so much.
(CC) When did you move from Zimbabwe to “The Big Smoke” aka Johannesburg?
(IA) 2005 or thereabouts.
It was after I finished high school and a short break in the UK.
While I was in the UK, the family moved over and it was more of a “by the way, we have relocated countries, so Zimbabwe is no longer home” conversation.
That took a very long time to process.
(CC) You spent quite some time in the IT Industry.
What was that like for a woman, and particularly a woman of colour?
(IA) I noticed when I was the only one in the room, when someone assumed that the man in the room was the technical specialist or when my response was interrupted or spoken over.
I noticed being second-guessed even by people in my own company or team and I certainly noticed being ignored.
It hurt me initially but I thrived when I showed them up, proved them wrong or spoke up for myself.
Eventually, I didn’t notice it because I focused on getting the job done, which I did.
And once you showed your value, people didn’t question or doubt you again.
(CC) Your husband 😊 How did you guys meet?
(IA) We met at work.
He joined our IT Security Operations team and 6 months later were dating.
We managed to keep our little affair a secret until we were discovered kissing in the kitchen (actual lol).
He proposed to me a few months later which we also kept secret until we had been dating a year (I mean what would the parents think marrying someone you have only dated for a few months).
I married him at the tender age of 22 and it will be our ten-year anniversary in a few months.
(CC) What prompted the move to the UK? (IA) A few things to be honest.
Job prospects, my husband wanting to experience living where he was born and grew up, concerns over our safety in the long run because we were victims of multiple crimes throughout our life there, quality of life and access.
I always wanted to live abroad and travel so I was always game to take the leap.
(CC) How did you find the transition from SA/Africa to the UK?
(IA) The transition itself was quite smooth after all my Visa drama.
Alex had a job lined up and somewhere to stay.
I got to spend the 6 months after the move at home before actually looking for work so I was quite fortunate in that regard
. I got to explore the area and quite a bit of London.
I enjoyed starting from scratch down to buying teaspoons and sleeping on a mattress on the floor but that was all a part of the process.
I had been to the UK a few times before so it wasn’t entirely a culture shock.
I’d do it again. And again.
(CC) Did you face any prejudices or preconceived ideas from people in the UK about Africans? (we all know what the Americans are like with Lions in our gardens 😊)
(IA) nothing like that no lol.
I did get quite a few “you speak so eloquently” comments, a few “oh wow, cybersecurity? really? you must be so clever” comments. People in the UK are very “polite” and “politically correct”.
Sarcasm is the name of the game and the better you are at picking it up, the more you notice.
(CC) What opportunities do you believe the move has created for you?
(IA) The earning potential is higher not just in terms of value but the exchange rate as well and so I am able to do a lot more like travel, publish and promote a book for example.
You’re exposed to even more industries, communities, cultures, cuisines.
Being here has broadened my perspective, my opinions, my beliefs and totally smashed the glass ceiling of what I thought was possible for my life.
(CC) Have you managed to travel much since your move? (Pre Covid of course 😊)
(IA) I have travelled more since moving to the UK than I have in my entire life before the move.
I have seen Belgium, Amsterdam, Paris, Barbados, Jamaica and Zanzibar in the 4 years that I have been here.
And there are certainly more planned as soon as it is safe to do so.
(CC) How did the book come about?
Is this something that has been in the pipeline for some time, or is it something that you reached a point in your life you felt the need to express?
(IA) I would love to say that it came from an inspiring moment that triggered it all.
It actually started from boredom, a tv show and self-pity.
I had no intention of publishing it until a therapist and my husband convinced me to put myself out there and “see what happens”.
I got some great feedback from a group called The House of Editors and so I pursued it.
(CC) How long did the book take you to write?
(IA) It took me about 3 years to write, on and off.
(CC) Is this your full-time occupation?
(IA) I wish!
And it will certainly be something I work towards because I love the process so much!
I have so many ideas but they mean nothing till I make time to sit down and actually write!
(CC) Tell us a bit about the creative process for you.
(IA) I can’t honestly say that there was a process considering Kinky Roots was my first one.
My approach to writing it and deciding what to write about, in hindsight, was to decide what life events, moments, experiences, had an impact on me or changed me as a person.
Where did I learn the most lessons, when was I most ashamed of myself.
I had to keep in mind who I was writing for and why I was writing it. What message I wanted to get across and with what intention and outcome.
Finally, connecting the beginning of the book to the end of the book.
What tied everything together and connected the story to all of its parts.
And then I wrote it as I told it.
(CC) What advice would you give for any aspiring authors – Young or otherwise.
(IA) Don’t get caught up in the details of who will want to read the work or publish the work.
Just write the work and finish the work.
If what you write is truth, you will find your audience with or without a big publisher.
(CC) If someone has a novel they have written/are writing, what would your advice be re how to get it published?
(IA) The advice that I got when I was in this position that really helped was, if you treat it like a hobby, it will pay you like a hobby.
So invest the time and money to make sure that the work is of the best possible standard it can be.
You now have options to traditionally publish or self-publish.
If you are going the traditional route, get an agent if you can but without trying to discourage you or sound negative, prepare yourself for a LOT of “No”‘s because there will be a lot of them.
It won’t be personal or a reflection of your work, just business especially if you aren’t famous or on your first novel.
On self-publishing, spend money on a good cover (people do actually judge you based on the cover) take the time to learn the publishing process, what is involved, who your target market is, where to distribute and print paperbacks or hardcovers from, marketing.
There are now people out there who can help you with this.
I am figuring it out as I go along but I sure am learning a lot.
(CC) Without giving too much away, can you give us a summary of what we can expect from “Kinky Roots”?
(IA) Kinky Roots’ is about my tumultuous upbringing in Zimbabwe, where violence and sexual assault was rife – to me meeting my white husband in South Africa before starting an arduous new life in the UK.
It’s a story that explores how identity, excuses, religion, relationships, self-worth and family heritage all ultimately lay life’s crazy pathway.
In a sentence, it is memories and ruminations of growing up in Southern Africa and moving to the UK – exploring growth, healing and our human need for direction.
(CC) Now some good old standard questions for Africans abroad 😊 Do you miss Africa? And what do you miss most about home?
(IA) This one is a hard one.
I miss my family – they are still there and I miss the climate, sometimes.
I miss Cream soda, milk tart, malva pudding.
I miss Sun City and Camps Bay.
I definitely don’t miss the traffic!
(CC) Do you and your husband still braai in the UK?
(IA) LOL Of course we do!
And when the weather allows.
We had to show the brits how it was done because to them a “barbeque” was hamburgers and sausages!
Can you believe it?
No steaks, no ribs, no chops! Just shocking! 🙂
(CC) Where can we get ourselves a copy of Kinky Roots?
(IA) Get it wherever you buy your books online and if it is not in your local bookstore, go ahead and request it. 🙂
Ingrid Arlington is a Zimbabwean born author, now living with her husband and two Jack Russell’s in the UK.
Cybersecurity consulting is her daily vocation but recently discovered she is a writer at heart.
She loves food, nature, architecture, travel, art and capturing it all on camera.
Her first novel, Kinky Roots, are her memoirs spanning growing up in Africa, her subsequent move to Europe and her quest to find direction and meaning in life.
It is an uplifting, poignant and reflective journey, and a must read!