WLM Spotlight Sunday – Fran Macilvey

Alan Parks:

It’s Spotlight Sunday again! Today we welcome Fran Macilvey in to the hot seat. Her book, ‘Trapped’ is getting rave reviews and two people will win e-copies today! Welcome Fran, I hope you enjoy your day!

Fran McIlvey SS

Cherry Gregory: Hi Fran, great to see you on the Sunday Spotlight! I’ve already read your terrific book. Are you writing another?

Anne Chapman: I haven’t read your book yet but looks like kind of book i would enjoy i am fairly new here and still feeling my way around the group but its lovely to meet you.

Frankie Knight: Hiya, Fran! Hope you enjoy your day! I have visitors and so will only be able to pop in and out today. Did you become a writer because of your condition or were you already a writer?

Julie Haigh: Welcome to the spotlight Fran! Hope you enjoy it. I’ve not read your book yet but I’ve seen all your excellent reviews so I’m sure I’ll love it too. So, a couple of questions, how old is your daughter? I don’t know much about cerebral palsy so what sort of difficulties does it present you with in your everyday life? I hope you don’t mind me asking.

–Good morning from sunny Yorkshire! Finally, the weather is really nice this weekend. Where are you from Fran?

Alison Teeshirts: Morning Fran, you will have a fab day of that I’m sure.

–What other dreams do you have now you achieved being a writer?

Gemma Murphy-Sanderson: Morning Fran! Not read your book yet but hope to soon.

Julie Haigh: What about a bit of breakfast Janet Hughes?

Charlotte Smith: The dog’s been baking for you Fran. Hope you’re enjoying your spotlight so far



Fran Macilvey: Hello, everyone, and thanks for featuring me today! Really happy about that! :-))))



Fran Macilvey: Cherry, thanks for reading my first book, and for the excellent review. I am writing/have written another, which is currently in a major edit. And I have a third up my sleeve which may see the light of day if anyone is interested. That is a long way in the future, though…

–Nice to meet you too, Anne Chapman!

–Hi, Frankie Knight, I’ve been a writer all my life actually. I remember saying I was going to be one when I was about ten, so I’m glad I kept that resolution! xx

Cherry Gregory: Great to hear you have another book on the way and maybe a third too…I’m eager to get my hands on them.

Julie Haigh: Are these new books going to be fiction? Or your memoirs continued?

Fran Macilvey: Hello, Julie! Thanks for being here. My daughter is almost eleven, now, and so grown up it is a bit scarey, but in a good way! She will soon be taller than me, too! No, of course I don’t mind you asking about the difficulties that CP presents in daily life. Lots! Though I am so fortunate because I can still walk, I have a family, and my disabilities are not that severe. But joining in was a big issue when I was younger. And there are some things I’ll never manage, which gives me grief sometimes. That is really why I wrote the book about my life! xxx :))

–Where am I from, Julie Haigh? Good question. I was born in the Congo, raised in East Africa. I am half Belgian and live in Scotland. So that makes me Scottish, and from Edinburgh, finally! Phew!

Julie Haigh: You sound like you keep really cheerful about things and cope really well.

Fran Macilvey: Hello, Alison Teeshirts!! Nice to see you here! Now that I have achieving being a writer? Mainly I would like to keep writing, and sell some books! And travel a bit, maybe. Find a lovely villa on the beach, somewhere? I have dreams…. xxx

–Thanks, Gemma Murphy-Sanderson, I have been sooo encouraged by the responses that “Trapped” has been getting. YAY!

— Hello, Charlotte, how are you this morning? What time is it?? I’m really enjoying my Sunday spot, and typing very quickly! xx

— And I’m enjoying my breakfast too. Peanut butter on toast!

Julie Haigh: Crunchy or smooth?

Fran Macilvey: Frankie Knight, I was reading an essay I wrote in Primary seven, would you believe, in which I wrote, “When I grow old, I’m going to be either a writer, a lawyer or a pianist” ! I’ve been a lawyer, am a writer… is there time to be a concert pianist, d’you think? xx

–Oh, crunchy if I can. Less fussy than I used to be!

Julie Haigh: Do you already play piano then Fran?

Fran Macilvey: I used to … hurmpphhh! But I was never very good. I got so embarrassed playing in public that I was doooomeed, really. Even found it hard playing in front of my piano teacher. But I got to grade six. And I still play very occasionally when I think there is no-one home in the flat downstairs. xxx

Julie Haigh: So you would like to be a concert pianist playing to an EMPTY concert hall! Ha ha!

Fran Macilvey: Exactly! You got it. Are you a kindred soul? Do you long to let your inner artist out and make a total exhibition of yourself too?? (In a big empty space where no-one can see you??)

Julie Haigh: And grade six is very good you know!

— Fran, I used to be a concert pianist and organist-mainly organist. (Sorry to mention again for people who already know but Fran must have joined after my Monday member as she didn’t seem to know) Had to retire as rheumatoid arthritis. I used to get nervous before performances, everyone does, so you’re not alone Fran, it’s just about learning to cope with your nerves and putting on a show of being’ confident’ so, you never know, you could do the third part of your ambitions yet!

Cherry Gregory: Grade six piano is very good…I’m at grade zero. Fran, I love your ambitions of doing more writing, some travelling and a villa by the coast. I’ve said we’re alike before, haven’t I? Well, I don’t want to sound like a copy cat, but those are my EXACT ambitions too. I have dreams of walking on the beach to develop my ideas and then going back to the villa to write, with the sound of the sea in the distance.

Fran Macilvey: Oh, Julie, I had no idea. Wow, that is some talent to have. I do hope you play every day. Yes, you are right, it is about pretending to be confident and then believing it. xxx

Rowena Cardwell: Hi Fran Macilvey. Hope you are well. I haven’t read your book so I don’t know how your CP affects you in daily life. Is it available as a hardback as I don’t have a kindle and prefer to read an actual book. I too have CP. I wasn’t diagnosed until 11 years ago and the feeling was amazing. To suddenly know and understand why I was different, why some things were difficult and why I was the target of bullies for so much of my school life and beyond, was fantastic. For me, everything fell into place. Thankfully, the school bullies are long gone and, in adulthood, sorry for their actions. You are very brave to write about it. Well done.

Fran Macilvey: Cherry GregoryAaaaaah, yes, that is my idea of heaven. Totally. :-)))

— Hi, Rowena Cardwell – Hello! ‘Trapped’ is available as a hardback, and these days, I order through Waterstones or on-line through Amazon.co.uk. Thank you for calling me brave. You are brave too, to have a diagnosis so recently. ‘Cerebral Palsy’ covers such a wide spectrum of ability. Writing, especially in later adulthood was for me more like a kind of desperate frustration, as I really needed to understand so many things and just grow up! But writing has helped so much with that. I would love if you might read my book and let me know if our experiences are familiar. Friend request on the way! Hugs! xxx

Julie Haigh: Yes Fran, I do still play and practice everyday, lots of shorter sessions and I teach piano. We Love Memoirs is severely interfering with my practice and my reading though! In a good way! Enjoy the rest of your spotlight-I’m going to pop in the shower and will keep looking in on your chat throughout the day x

Rowena Cardwell: Thanks Fran Macilvey, I will definitely try and source it. One of the ways in which CP affects me is my ability to read quickly and to take it all in. I have always been a very slow reader. I definitely would be interested to see if our experiences are similar.

Fran Macilvey: ‘Trapped’ is not a long book and some people say they prefer to read it slowly. xxxx :-)))

Anne Chapman: Your not far from me then I live in Hamilton Lanarkshire nearly neighbours

Fran Macilvey: YAY! Anne, that’s nice! xxx

Cherry Gregory: I think Trapped is best read slowly because there’s a lot in it to appreciate. It’s that sort of book.

Fran Macilvey: Anyone fancy a drink with me this morning? I’m crunching on my morning vitamins, and Eddie and Seline have gone to church (“and probably out for something to eat afterwards”) so I’m happy to have your company! xx

Thanks, Cherry Gregory! xx

Cherry Gregory: Yes, I fancy a drink this sunny morning.

Fran Macilvey: Coffee? Tea, five alive? Heaven’s eleven? Vitamin vimto?



Cherry Gregory: What’s heaven’s eleven?

Charlotte Smith: I’ll have the heavens eleven thank you Fran. Nearly midday here in sunny Spain

Valerie Robson: Just to say I got a Purple Crested Loerie on my birdbath right now… sorry just had to share xxx

Fran Macilvey: Hee Hee Hee, it’s whatever you want it to be. A cross between ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ with whassisname (you know, the dishy one) and Brad Pitt and that carrot juice drink that looks so pious on the shelves at the local supermarket, and when you take it hope and pop open the can, it tastes of tomato juice?! Let’s see. Apple, carrot, beetroot, spinach, celery, lime…and six more. xxx

Valerie Robson: Idiot moment over, forgive me… xxx

Fran Macilvey: Sounds divine. Got a picture of that? Hang on, I’ll see if I can find one



Fran Macilvey: But! But! Idiot moments are the best! Come and join the party. :-)))

Valerie Robson: I am here with you all. Just limited by only having small phone so I follow as best I can… Thanks for the pic, that was great xxx

Fran Macilvey: Julie Haigh – asked a question about whether the next books are to be fiction, or whether the memoirs are continued….I’ve given that a lot of thought. I’m not sure how much more I could write along the ‘memoir’ line. My next book is called “Happiness Matters” and is really about how to more into a lighter life. I learned the hard way, and have always used my writing as my learning tool. The third book, if it ever arrives, takes that the next step up, into more spiritual leanings.

–Valerie Robson – did you recognise it? Must have been quite a sight on your birdbath! It is a big bird?

— Thanks for the dancing dog – wearing a strange cap on her head – and the biscuits, Charlotte Smith, they go really well with the Heaven’s Eleven!

Frank Kusy: Hiya Frannie, sorry late to the party but as you know I’m not a morning person or even an early afternoon person. Yay, yore in the Spotlight!! Let me ask you this before someone else does: which of the many, many books you’ve read in your life has influenced you the most? xxx

Fran Macilvey: I don’t have a kindle yet, either Rowena! xx

Cherry Gregory: Hmmmm. Tastes devine!

Fran Macilvey: Hellooo! Frank! I was just about to ring your bell and ask if you wanted to come out to play! Which book I’ve read has influenced me the most? Probably something I read as a juvenile, something like, ‘I Claudius’. Such a sweeping, convincing narrative. I could hardly believe it was possible to write so well. But also something simple like, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” I like straightforward prose. xxx

–Heee! Heee! The ‘likes’ are going crazy here, folks! I like you all, too! YAY! xxx

Julie Haigh: Fran, being a lawyer, do you think you’d ever have a go at crime fiction/Court room drama genre? Or do you see enough of it working in it?

–The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is amazing.

Frank Kusy: Oo, I just got goosebumps. I Claudius was HUGELY influential on me too, my mind was far too quick for my tongue at school and I stammered all over the place. Plus I’ve always had a thing about Roman/Greek history. I must check out the Diving Bell, is it on Kindle? xx

Fran Macilvey: For short stories I love, love Edna O’Brien. Word for word, her writing is totally divine. (And yours too, Frank, (and yours too Salman ….)) Begins to sound like ‘Bridget Jones’ here. One of my favourite films. That’s the problem with having read so many books. I love Dick Francis, because he knows how to tell a story simply….

Charlotte Smith: Pets Fran? Got any or would you like me to supply you with a few?

Frank Kusy: I love Trapped, btw, as I said in my review far and away one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. I remember thinking that when I read the first drafts on Authonomy. Do you miss Authonomy, Frannie? xxx

Fran Macilvey: Julie Haigh – when I was a lawyer, I kept waiting for the enthusiasm that would fire me up to write a courtroom drama. It never came, which, I guess, was God’s way of persuading me to go back to writing other stuff. I should be grateful. I am. I just wish I could have enjoyed law a bit more. xx Law was never my vocation, you see, so it would be hard to find the enthusiasm for that genre.

— ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ is amazing, yes, and it is probably available on Kindle, Frank. If not, you could buy one But, I was amazed that I gave a copy to one of my best friends and she loathed it!! That took some working out, I can tell you. TDB&TB seems to have divided opinion right down the middle. But it taught me about perseverance, which I really needed to learn!

— Yes, Frank, I do miss Autho, sometimes. I think, mainly, I realise how much I gained from it, in retrospect. I’m in touch with most of the friends I met there, which is lovely. You have all been such a precious help to me.

— Charlotte, you can send me a kitten, if you like! I would love a pet, but our flat is so small, we don’t have room for one. I am enjoying all the stories in your book!

Julie Haigh: Diving Bell is on kindle but only in French Frank at the moment-but that’s ok if you speak French.

–What is authonomy? something to do with authors? But what?

Charlotte Smith: A lovely kitten for a lovely lady



Fran Macilvey: Thank you, Charlotte Smith! You are most kind. Prrrrr!

Julie Haigh: Can I have one too please Charlotte?

Fran Macilvey: ‘Authonomy’ is the on-line writers’ forum for HarperCollins publishers, which they set up instead of having a paper ‘slush pile’ for submissions from Joe Public. It makes it easier for them, and writers get a chance to compare their writing, review books and leave comments. Without Autho, I would not have got published.

— For you, Julie!



Fran Macilvey: Frank Kusy, now you got to learn French. Think you can do that in a couple of weeks?? xx :))

— In time for the summer holidays? Then you can go to the beaches of the French Riviera for your holidays and impress the ladies…..

Julie Haigh: He might already speak it-he’s probably spent months there writing a travel guide or something?

Charlotte Smith: For you Julie Haigh

Photo#7Photo-TwoJulie Kittens


Julie Haigh: He’s so cute-I’ll call him Christopher-I mean the kitten-not Frank!

— ooh 2 more!

Charlotte Smith: Call him Frank

Julie Haigh: Thank you! Charlie and Cliff then!

Fran Macilvey: Ha! How about Eenie, Meenie and Miney Mo??

Alan Parks: Don’t do it! My cats are called that, its a nightmare! I have to go through the rhyme every time I mention one!

Julie Haigh: Ok Frank, Fluffy and Fifi then?

Alan Parks: Well mine are Eeny, Meeny, Miney and Mo.

Fran Macilvey: Alan Parks – Ha! Oh, thanks for the warning.

— Alan, you must get confused. A friend of mine said she called her cats ‘Algebra’ and ‘Trigonometry’ which must have been a bit strange when she was calling them for supper!

Valerie Robson: Fran, yes I have a fair knowledge of the local birds as I am fascinated by them! The PCL can be about 40+ cms from beak to long tail, with an amazing red flash under the wings which your pic could not show… xxx

Fran Macilvey: I really love birds too.

–Other books I have loved….all of Dick Francis, most of John Grisham – though, goodness, he is the master of formula these days! – a lot of memoir. I especially liked ‘Dear Me’ by Peter Ustinov, which had me in hysterics in the school library. Mary Renault’s books were influential, though they are regarded as a bit passé, and also Gore Vidal. Strange, it all comes back to me, now I start to think about it. I associate particular types of books with times in my life.

— And pieces of music, and food! Fancy a bit of mango, just now. Deck chair, book, juicy mango. Pages will stick together, but never mind. For good holiday reading, there is little to beat Marian Keyes. I’ve read such a lot of chic lit.



Fran Macilvey: Is chic lit a waste of time?

Julie Haigh: I like Marian Keyes as well. Thanks for the mango- I’m still waiting for Janet Hughes to bring breakfast or have I missed it?

–And you’re quite right Fran, certain books, pieces of music and foods do trigger memories of what you were experiencing at the time you first read it/ate it/heard it, I find that too, sure many others will.

Fran Macilvey: No, you haven’t missed it. We have an all day breakfast on today, seeing as it’s Sunday. I could have sworn I saw it around here someplace (goes off to search…)

— Hello, Janet Hughes! Nice to see you! Julie Haigh would like some breakfast, if you could bring some along…

Terry Bryan: This should tide you over, Julie, until Janet arrives.


Fran Macilvey: Memory triggers can leave me feeling a bit wistful, though. Bitter sweet. Ah, here is some breakfast! Yummy, thanks so much, Janet!

Terry Bryan: And no, Fran…any reading is not a waste of time.

Fran Macilvey: Oh, thank you, Terry. I feel reassured, though I have read an AWFUL lot of chic lit. Not these days, though!

Becky Corwin-Adams: Good morning! Just stopping by to say hi before heading out to help my grandson celebrate his 7th birthday today. Your book looks very interesting, Fran!

Janet Hughes: Hi there Fran, sorry I’m late, been collecting wood in the forest. I see that they’ve been taking very good care of you. I loved your book, it’s one of the few books that I read slowly, it really resonated with me. One of the things that has been intriguing me is how you manage your pain with diet. Do you have time to elaborate?



Fran Macilvey: Hello, Becky. Thanks so much for popping in. I hope you enjoy the birthday party. xxx

Becky Corwin-Adams: We are going to a Monster Truck Rally. Not really my thing since loud noise bothers me………..

Fran Macilvey: Hello, Janet. Thanks for that lovely bowl of fruit salad! YUMMMY! I’ve thought a lot about pain management, because I hate to think of growing older and being sore. I have discovered – mostly trial and error – that I have to avoid most café foods, like tea, coffee, sugar, cream, milk, cheese, white bread, white rice, processed foods, chocolate, and so on. There are one or two other culprits, but these are the most prevalent. And beef! OUCH! xxx

— I’ve never been to a doctor in my life about this, btw, just worked most of it out by myself. I used to cough like an forty a day smoker (milk) and have psoriasis and sore joints (milk and sugar). My temper was volatile (sugar, coffee, tea) and I was exhausted (milk, sugar, coffee, tea). There are other foods on the market that are good substitutes, so that is a relief and a half.

— Got any ear plugs, Becky? Loud noises annoy me too, but at least at a loud party I could shout and no-one would hear!

— Oooh, I think collecting wood in the forest must be one of the best things to do, ever.



Janet Hughes: Not good when you live in a cafe culture country

Terry Bryan: Fran, what kind of lawyer were you?

Fran Macilvey: Indeed, having so many intolerances makes eating out a bit difficult, but I find if I have a little now and then, it’s okay. I have my reliable favourites, like fish and chips

–Hi Terry, I was a lawyer in private practice…doing Estates, divorces, mainly buying and selling houses and doing mortgage work.

Frankie Knight: Hiyas, I’m back briefly! Very interesting to read about pain management via foods as I am going through that process right now! I would simply HATE not to be able to drink a lovely strong black coffee in one of the local bars and nothing will persuade me to stop!

–Is today turning out to be as you’d expected? Any difficult questions? Surprised Janet was so late with the sustenance for you. Really not on, is it?

Janet Hughes: After 11 years away from the UK, my digestive system can’t cope with fish and chips, lucky me



Susan Joyce: Fran Macilvey, welcome to Sunday Spotlight! I’m delighted to have a chance to get to know you even better. Hope you’re enjoying being in the tell all seat. Let me read through the thread, then ask more questions.

Janet Hughes: So being as it’s your spotlight Sunday I can ask you this, without fear of being put on the naughty step, oh wait! I’m still on it…. Never mind, Fran have you got a blog page or an author page. I can’t wait that long for you to publish your next book…..

Terry Bryan: Although needed, I think I’d give up that kind of law too, Fran. Not creative enough for ya, eh?

Fran Macilvey: Janet, are you still on the naughty step?? I’m sure I authorised your removal aaages ago! Aaah, Frankie Knight, you have hit the nail on the head. I loved, simply loved, all the foods I have had to give up, but I would never go back there. I’m afraid coffee is an instant pain trigger for me. Can’t walk for two days. Ever seen me crawling? Not a pretty sight! ;D

— Fish and chips are actually a bit problematic too. White fish is inflammatory, and potatoes are in the deadly nightshade family, so I have to eat both with caution, but once a week (fish) and twice a week (potatoes) does no harm, as long as they are not new potatoes.

Fran Macilvey: Hello, Susan Joyce, thanks for being here. Looking forward to your questions! xx

Nancy McBride: This is a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning, with you all in everyday exchanges…Bacon, anyone?



Fran Macilvey: Janet, I have a blog, at http://franmacilvey.wordpress.com/ but I don’t have an Fran Macilvey Author page on FB yet. I tried setting one up last week, because Alan said it would be a great idea, but I was too busy, and almost had a nervous collapse. I’ll give that another go soon. http://franmacilvey.wordpress.com/



Fran Macilvey: Terry, yes, we do need lawyers, and yes, you are spot on. I liked the creative aspects of drafting title deeds, but it wasn’t enough for me!

— Janet Hughes, what was it you wanted to ask me when you were sitting on the naughty step??

— Hi, Nancy McBride, thanks for the bacon sandwich. Just the ticket! xx

–No difficult questions yet, Frankie Knight, though very interesting! xx

Julie Haigh: Somebody think of a difficult question! No, only joking! This is a fab spotlight thread Fran!

Fran Macilvey: Hee Hee! Thanks, Julie! xx

Frank Kusy: Okay, here’s a difficult question for you Fran, has anyone ever been unkind/nasty about your writing, and how would/did you react/cope with that? xx

Susan Joyce: Fran, to get around long distances (like airports) do you need assistance? My aunt had CB and she could manage short distances, but had a motorized cart to help her with long runs. As kids we thought she was the coolest because she would take us for rides in her “go-cart.”

Fran Macilvey: Weell, Frank Kusy that is a great question. One or two readers have been dismissive, but so far, no-one has actually been unkind. The worst it has been is really ‘faint praise’, like when you know someone quite well, and they say something like, “still waiting, still here.” If I like them, I take the hint most gratefully, and if I don’t know them, I have a moment’s pondering and try to forget about it. A published book becomes public property and everyone is entitled to their view. The hardest lesson with having a book published is that not everyone will understand and not everyone will like. Is that two lessons?

Susan Joyce: So true Fran!

Fran Macilvey: Hello, Susan! I have had assistance at airports, but these days I do try to manage without it. Since my daughter can now walk, and since every time I ask for assistance I end up stranded or overlooked, it is better if I just travel with hand luggage and use airports with moving walkways. Actually, it works out very well, because all sorts of lovely people notice my walking stick and allow me to jump queues. One of the rare perks of being disabled. xx

Susan Joyce: Fran, I’d love to know about how you met your husband? What age were you when your heart pinged?

Nancy McBride: Now that you have put your CP self “out there,” is it at all freeing? And does it clear the way to express the other bits of you, now?

Julie Haigh: Fran, just noticed you wrote ‘since my daughter can now walk’-does she have cerebral palsy too? and is it hereditary? Sorry if I’ve got this wrong or is a difficult question.

Fran Macilvey: I met my husband when I went to help out at an evening advice session at the central CAB here in town. I walked in the door, and there he was. It felt like a Mills & Boone story, and for years afterwards the manager there used to refer to the CAB as a great way to meet a future partner. She was very proud to have facilitated our romance, I think!

–My daughter is ten and just lovely. She has no disability, but when she was a baby, I used to get stranded at airports, because I wasn’t allowed to take her buggy as hand luggage, and I could not carry her. That’s all.

Julie Haigh: Glad to hear she is ok-she will be a great help to you then-does she help you with the housework or cooking then?

Fran Macilvey: Yes, Nancy, putting out the truth is incredibly freeing! I recommend writing, any kind of self expression, to anyone with a disability, ailment or sadness. Really, writing has saved my life. Yes, in some ways the old Fran is not me. I have changed and am a much nicer person now. So I am very free these days, just to be happy and to appreciate all the lovely parts of my life. Thank you for asking.

— Not much, Julie, though recently I have been very busy and she has been a great help to me. Not having had a very ‘domesticated’ childhood, I’ve had to learn a lot of it myself, and have to remind myself to show my daughter things. But I do that now, which is the important thing.

Julie Haigh: Sure your memoir will help many sufferers of CP, I don’t know of any other memoirs about people with this condition? Did you read any to help yourself and find out more info?

Fran Macilvey: Cerebral Palsy is not hereditary at all, but is usually caused by suffocation at birth, birth delays, that sort of thing. Parts of the brain die from lack of oxygen, and that shows up in many different ways, with loss of speech, sometimes inability to walk. Nowadays I can appreciate what my father used to say, about me being very lucky.

–Susan, I was – how old? – I can’t remember…let’s see, I would have been thirty two, when I first met my husband.

Julie Haigh: You have already achieved so much in your life, you are a real inspiration!

Fran Macilvey: Yes, Nancy McBride, I feel much happier doing other things these days, like singing in public, dancing and generally making a fool of myself. It is great fun, letting the guard down.

Susan Joyce: Good for you Fran. Letting the guard down is an important move in life.

Janice MacLeod-Lik: I’ve just read this whole conversation. Most fascinating life!

Susan Joyce: Fran, I know you were born in Africa. Was there a birth delay? Did this make your condition worse?

Fran Macilvey: Thank you, Janice MacLeod-Lik! I’m glad you are enjoying the discussion. Julie, when I was growing up the only info about CP that I could find was from books like ‘My Left Foot’. I used to read about people with disabilities, like Helen Keller and Douglas Bader. I think that CP has for so long been dominated by technical, medicalized discussions. Still nowadays, ‘experts’ in the field tend to be articulate, well paid and able bodied, which I find strange. How can they know about the disadvantages of disability, which tend to be social, financial and about attitudes which exclude? I found it hard to locate any real info about CP when I was growing up. A lot about attitudes is in my book.

Julie Haigh: Oh yes-I do remember ‘My Left Foot’ there was a film but not seen that and not read the book-Christy Brown? I think?

Fran Macilvey: Yes, Susan JoyceI was born in the Congo, and my father recently told me more about that. The country was in the midst of terrible fighting and lots of qualified medical people had left, so the hospitals were understaffed and really stretched. There was a delay of an hour, which caused lots of damage, though not as much as they thought there would be at the time, thank God. I have a twin sister, who is fully able bodied, and having a disabled sister was very hard for her, I realise now.

— ‘My Left Foot’ is a very good book. I think I saw the film first, and then read the book.

— Any more questions anyone would like to ask?

Julie Haigh: Hobbies? besides reading?

Janice MacLeod-Lik: I have two questions. Where is your favourite place in the world? Is there a place in the world where you dream to go?

Fran Macilvey: Ermmm, singing, movies, eating delicious food, doing anything colourful, walking on the beach, having fun, laughing. Anything that doesn’t involve hockey sticks or squash balls!

Julie Haigh: What’s your ‘party piece’ re the singing? Any videos as Shirley Ledlie did on her member Monday?!!!!

Fran Macilvey: Hi, Janice. My favourite place in the world is probably somewhere like Italy, with hot sand, lovely food and lots of places to swim all day. But I love to explore, and would go almost anywhere!

— My party piece? Oh. That’s going back decades. But I love to sing along to the classical pieces that we used to do in choir. Something like Mozart’s Requiem. Can’t drive the car and sing that at the same time. And Bach. Always Bach. The Matthew Passion? Heaven on earth. No videos, unfortunately. xx

Julie Haigh: Could do a duet with Micki Stokoe then by live link-she’s in a choir.

Fran Macilvey: YAY! I would like that! xx

Susan Joyce: I’m curious about why your CP was hard on your sister?

Julie Haigh: I would imagine you meant that your sister probably felt you got more attention than her?

Susan Joyce: I never thought of it that way Julie. You might be right. Fran, are you and your sister close today?

Fran Macilvey: Thanks for asking about my sister. I was so wrapped up in my own grief that I didn’t listen much to her – or to anyone!- when I was younger. But it was hard on Martha, who was always asking herself, “Why did Fran end up disabled, and I’m able bodied?” I believe she felt a lot of guilt around that, though of course, she need not have. She has always loved me unconditionally, and her love pulled me through some really difficult times, though I did not always appreciate it as I do today. Being alone can make you selfish, somehow. We are close now, and writing my story has allowed us both to understand each other better, and also to be more honest with each other about a lot of things. We see things in a different way, though we have always been close.

Susan Joyce: That’s wonderful to know. Twins are very special. Glad to hear you support each other and feel close.

Fran Macilvey: I have another older sister and a brother too. And writing has brought us all closer, which is great.

Susan Joyce: Do your siblings live near you?

Janet Hughes: Have you tried Chicory as a coffee substitute?




Fran Macilvey: My siblings live in different places. Elouise lives in the Hague, Martha lives up north, between Montrose and Arbroath, and Simon lives in Brussels.

–Yes, I love chicory and barley substitutes instead of coffee. I wish they were more mainstream, though!

–My hubby just came home and said that he is going to fly to Cardiff for a conference in July, rather than taking the train, as it costs about a third to fly. Isn’t that just ridiculous?!

Susan Joyce: Yes, it is.

Fran Macilvey: How are we supposed to rescue the planet when air fares are subsidised? Or is it just that the trains are too expensive to run? I can’t believe that.

Terry Bryan: Yes!

Susan Joyce: Fran, what is your husband’s profession? Is he also a writer?

Fran Macilvey: Susan Joyce, my husband is a Welfare Rights Officer, so he advises people who need to claim benefits, and helps with tribunals and appeals. He is a good man to have on your side.

Susan Joyce: Fran, have you thought of writing a book for children about having a disability?

Fran Macilvey: Susan, that is a really good idea, and I never occurred to me before. Actually, though my book contains adult reading matter, it is quite accessible and some readers have suggested it would do well in the YA genre. I think I will take up your idea though. it is really great! Thanks you. :-)) (Goes off to ponder, gets pen out…Hmmmm)

–Though Seline asks me if I’m ever going to write a book for kids, that is not quite what she means, I think.

Janet Hughes: Are you ready for THE question Fran?

Susan Joyce: I think it would be absolutely inspirational for kids with disabilities and for their family and friends.

Fran Macilvey: Well, when someone I know encouraged me to write, she said that my book would help people to understand better, and so I have always tried to write simply, so that people can understand. Hopefully that comes out in the writing.

–Yes, Janet, I’m ready for THE question, Janet. (‘Does my bum look big in this?….Are your eyes blue….is it raining….)

Janet Hughes: When your book is made into a film, who do you want to play you and hubby ?

Fran Macilvey: LOLOLOL! Hmmm. Keira Knightley and Brad Pitt. Just off the top of my head.

Janet Hughes: What My Brad Pitt from the bar

Julie Haigh: Mention of bar Janet-any chance of a glass of nice cold cider?

Fran Macilvey: I’m sure we can rustle something up? (Mine’s a glass of good red wine). xx

Susan Joyce: Chardonnay for me please!

Alison Teeshirts: Oh look. I turn up at booze I clock!



Janet Hughes: y vinos

Susan Joyce: Muchas gracias!

–Fran, as a kid how did you deal with your feelings about being disabled? You mention liking to sing. As a kid, I had dyslexia and talked funny, said things backwards. But when I would open my mouth to sing, all the words flowed out beautifully. Music was my therapy and helped give me confidence. What helped give you?

–Or, is this in your book?

–I haven’t read it yet, but look forward to reading it soon.

Julie Freed: Loving this fred Fran Macilvey! Congratulations on a wonderful SS!! Looking forward to your book.

Fran Macilvey: Hello! Just been away fortifying myself with porridge…. Amazing what we like, isn’t it? Porridge on a Sunday afternoon. Saves cooking. Yes, Susan, I sent out my voice to sing for me, and singing has always helped me to deal with life, and to keep it colourful. I used to sing all the time, even in school. I was a weird kid, actually, introverted and unhappy, despite being happy to be alive, if you know what I mean. I didn’t even notice that walking differently mattered, until people started looking askance, until I became the target of medical decisions. Growing up became disappointing. That is what my story is about, really. How to escape entrapment.

–Music, singing have been my lifeline, in many ways. And I was never too shy about that. xx

— Julie Freed – I do hope you enjoy reading ‘Trapped’ and will let me know what you think of it. xx

Julie Haigh: Too hot to cook isn’t it Fran- pushing 30 degrees even in Huddersfield-I don’t think you’ll need those woolly shorts for football Alan!

Fran Macilvey: LOL! Fancy wearing woolly shorts! I never would. Itch in all the wrong places. Is it hot in Huddersfield? I would like some of that heat!

Julie Haigh: Amazing isn’t it how music does that Susan and Fran-it’s just come to me now-remember Gareth Gates in Pop Idol? He used to stammer badly and yet when he started to sing-no stammer-everything just flowed.

Frank Kusy: Phew, just got back from the river, bloomin hot out there! Wow, you’ve been busy Frannie, surprised you found time to get off yore bum for that porridge You say you began writing as a child, can you remember the first ‘book’ or first story you wrote? Mine was ‘Jessie the Cat’ and even my mum liked it

Fran Macilvey: Hmmmm. I was more interested in colouring in. You remember those pictures that used to get spooled off with purple ink? They smelled divine! The first story I remember writing was about a baby crawling around the house. The teacher loved it and asked me to submit it to the school magazine.

Frank Kusy: Purple ink? Was that iodine?

Fran Macilvey: Naw! Iodine is what my dad poured on his cuts. It went brown and took ages to fade.

— Was it a mimeograph? My daughter just told me that Ping won on Masterchef. YAY!

Frankie Knight: Back again briefly! Have read through to catch up and am now even more determined to read your book. It is very hard to have something which sets you apart from other kids when you are small and can frequently leave you permanently damaged. Seems you were able to rise above that – well done!!! Off now to tend to visitors….. Will pop back again later….

Fran Macilvey: Thanks so much, Frankie! It is only with the help of friends that we do rise above things. Friends, lovers and chocolate!

Frankie Knight: Agree with former and latter – not so sure of the middle!!! Oh, and brandy!

Susan Joyce: Very true Fran! I sometimes think obstacles make us more determined to keep moving forward. All of the above.

Fran Macilvey: Thanks for all your questions, folks. Taking a break just now and back soon. xxx



Susan Joyce: Fran, BTW your cover is profound. Did you have input on it?

Nancy McBride: Did you have assistance getting the book written, edited and produced?

Fran Macilvey: The book cover was really put together by the publisher’s design team, and they did a great job. I offered some ideas but they had the final say, and I think they put a lot of thought into it.

–Dear Nancy McBride – thanks for your questions. The book had two professional edits, but I wrote the material myself. It was hard finding the courage to re-organise it, but after a while it got easier, and I could see more clearly where I was heading with the edits. It all took a long time, though. ‘Trapped’ was produced by my publishers, Skyhorse, though I was given a lot of freedom with the text, for which I shall always be eternally grateful. They really have been behind me all the way!

Nancy McBride: Thanks so much! You are encouraging! How did you get a publisher?

Valerie Robson: Bravo to you Fran… xxx

Fran Macilvey: Tracks of my years… Winifred Atwell – she’s been on my mind, lately – Credence Clearwater Revival, Sargent Pepper, Bert Kempfert – Swingin’ Safari, remember that?

–First, I was lucky enough to find an agent, or rather, she was happy to take on my MS. That was my first lucky break, really, finding someone in the right place at the right time, who was interested in taking on a new writer and could see where she might place it. She then pitched to the Publisher and my commissioning editor took it on. Lucky me, eh?

–Thanks, Valerie! xx

Cherry Gregory: Sorry to disappear and then jump in again…just had my mum over for the day…so I’ve just been catching up on your thread. Any thoughts about writing fiction, Fran?

Frank Kusy: Fran, what is your philosophy of life, if you don’t mind me asking. Having had to overcome more obstacles than most of us, what do you think is the point of you – or indeed, of any of us – being here? xx

Fran Macilvey: I’ve had a few thoughts about writing fiction, Cherry Gregory, though my pen seems to stall at ‘short story’ length. I would love to write a full length novel. That would be really good fun!

— Hello, Frank Kusy. My philosophy in life is probably….that we should take every opportunity that lands in our lap and make the best of it. Which means, trying never to call anything “dreadful” or “a pity”, unless doing so motivates us to do something to make it better. We can never make a bad situation any better by complaining about it, but we certainly can make it a whole lot worse!

Frank Kusy: Ah yes, totally agree. One of the fundamental tenets of Buddhism is “no complaint” (something I’m not terribly good at), and another is “create value from every situation, see it as an opportunity, good or bad” (still working on that one too, lol)

Fran Macilvey: As to the point of life, well….as god might say, if you are going to be around for eternity, you need something to do, and you might as well make it fun. Reincarnation and all that jazz. xx

Frank Kusy: I read that as “Jacuzzi”, lol, my eyes are playing up But yes, extract fun/value from every situation, I can relate to that. xx

Cherry Gregory: I hear what you’re saying, Fran and Frank and I like your philosophy of making the best of a situation (which is something I TRY to do, not always successfully) but you know that bit about no complaints, what if your child or mother is badly treated by the authorities…surely you should stand up for them and complain in that situation?

Nancy McBride: Me, too, in retrospect. I am SO warped humor wise, and have been accused of being a bit, silly, too, on occasion. Hopefully we share the values and perspectives (humorous or wise), both, in our writings…

Frank Kusy: Do you think we will be busy in the afterlife or having a good, well-earned rest ? I’m really looking forward to a good kip

Fran Macilvey: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=701955299861618&set=vb.432632306793920&type=2&theater


Nancy McBride: Cherry, if you feel in your gut someone is wronged, how can you not?

Frank Kusy: Yes Cherry, as Mandela said, we should always stand up for what it is right – complain very loudly!!

Fran Macilvey: Dear Cherry, yes, indeed, complain, if you can do something about it. If something annoying motivates us to make it better, we should definitely do it. See attached video.

–Yes, we get a lovely rest in the afterlife, and can do a great deal of what we choose to do. In fact, it could be said, that we choose everything, though I know that is a contentious philosophy, one I have argued with for decades.

Frank Kusy: Phew, that’s a relief, I’ll hold you to that Frannie! And you know I agree with you about the ‘choose everything’ thing – that’s at the cornerstone of your book, if I remember

Susan Joyce: I definitely feel we choose everything all along the way.

Cherry Gregory: Love that video. Made me cry when the little girl runs up in her uniform!

Fran Macilvey: It’s very heart-warming, isn’t it? Posted by Judy Adams.

Nancy McBride: Fran, You give me courage to put myself out there. I don’t fear judgment. I cannot predict how someone will react to what I share (values and perspective, usually out of the box), but if someone would take the time to indulge me, we may both benefit from the relationship. I see writing as a conversation. When i used to write for public television, back in the late 60s, I had to cover any possible question in my script, because the viewer could not respond… It made me think that my writing needed to be the result of listening to myself and my audience, and what they needed, resultant… That is one of the writing barriers i am trying to get past… being conversational, and being a storyteller vs writing down what happened. I have found that can throw one into a more formal language scenario…

Frank Kusy: Yes, I got that vid from Judy too. The Thais have got it right…well, most of the time. I can’t imagine such a feel good Buddhist themed commercial being made in the UK without a product attached to it

Nancy McBride: Paying it forward vs PAIN it forward!!!

Fran Macilvey: Hmmm, you’re probably right, Frank, more’s the pity. Still, we can watch and learn a bit more about random acts of kindness.

— Nancy, go and do what you love to do! You have nothing to lose but your fears! xx

Susan Joyce: Fran, good advice! Yes, go for it Nancy!

Alison Teeshirts: Sounds like you are an inspiration today Fran. I love the way we are all open to learning from each other

Fran Macilvey: See post by Alan Parks.

Julie Haigh: She definitely is an inspiration Alison. What a marvellous day and it’s all still going strong, well done you, Fran!

Fran Macilvey: Hi Alison. I love Sundays, because (a) I don’t have to go (out) to work on Mondays, and (b) I feel inspirational. xxx

Alison Teeshirts: You definitely are Fran x

Linda Kovic-Skow: Once again, coming to the party late. What a great thread. You are an inspiration to us all Fran Macilvey. I wish you loads of success.

Fran Macilvey: And get to find lovely videos on FB…. :))) And meet lots of friends! xxx

–Thanks, Linda, come in dear heart, the party is still on. And I think it started early. I’m definitely an owl.

Grace Lyssett: Hello Fran, I’m interested in how you see yourself – I’ve had to come to terms with a disabling illness and can’t get about or do things that people take for granted. Having siblings who are able bodied, as you put it, does it make you feel disadvantaged, special, or different?

Fran Macilvey: Hi Grace! I’m so pleased you are here! xxxx I had to give your question a bit of thought, because actually, I didn’t feel different – and I still don’t – until I started school, when it became obvious that I was being treated differently. I have spent years feeling at a disadvantage, but that was mainly because I made such a fuss about wanting to do things I simply couldn’t instead of being grateful for my gifts. And I have felt ‘special’ (as in ‘special case’, ‘special treatment’ in a way that did me no good. But we are all special, we are all different.

–Big question! Deserves a very thoughtful answer. Now I feel the same as other people, and I recognise that we are all disabled, in some way, some of us by prejudice, some of us by fear of being misunderstood. These are big questions that I wrestle with in my book. xx

Susan Joyce: Fran, you are a great inspiration! I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you better today. Thanks for sharing your life adventures with WLM! A real treat to be part of this giving and receiving Fred. Time to walk myself and our dog. I’ll check back in later to see if the party is still swinging.

Fran Macilvey: Thanks Susan. xx

Grace Lyssett: Ah, what a great answer! You have come a long way in your life and have a big heart. I can’t wait to read your book xx

Fran Macilvey: YAY! xxx

Janet Hughes: Night night Fran, Bona nit



Julie Haigh: Did Susan just say party? Time to get some wine flowing then! Janet Hughes?

–Janet, you’re not going to bed now are you? Aww, someone get some wine please!

Fran Macilvey: Good night Janet. Sleep well! xx


Julie Haigh: Need something to toast you Fran and say cheers for a brilliant day!

Fran Macilvey: For you, Julie xx



Julie Haigh: Thanks Fran, bit of a short measure with the red though?

Fran Macilvey: It has been a brilliant day, hasn’t it. I have really, really enjoyed being here and answering questions. Thanks so much, everyone. Two people will be picked to get e-copies of my book, too! Thanks to everyone who asked questions and joined in. XXX



Julie Haigh: Night Janet x

Fran Macilvey: Is that a bottle or red beside the glasses? I think it could be. And it’s a full one! YAY! xx

Julie Haigh: Great! Refill then! Ah, lovely. This has been a fab party!

Fran Macilvey: Night night, dear friends. Do I get to nominate two people to win e-copies of Trapped, or is that up to the moderators?

–Anyway, I nominate Julie Haigh and Susan Joyce, who have both been here all day.

Grace Lyssett: Awww, wish I had joined earlier . . . . I’ll read through all the comments and clear up the empties x

Cherry Gregory: Thank you, Fran. It’s a wonderful thread!

Becky Corwin-Adams: I just got home and the party is winding down.

Frankie Knight: Well done Julie and Susan…..

Nancy McBride: This was SO interesting, today! In fact it even topped going car shopping with my friend, mid-day! (it was almost worse than Mall shopping, for me.) Whoa! Thanks! I am downloading the book.

Cherry Gregory: Well done Julie and Susan.

Fran Macilvey: I’ll let Alan know about that, and I hope everyone is okay with these choices. Well done, Julie and Susan. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading! xx

Julie Haigh: Wow thank you for choosing me Fran!-I just popped off to wash up so I’ve just seen now. Can’t wait to read your book. Congrats to Susan too!

Fran Macilvey: Thanks Nancy, for downloading my book! Enjoy!

Frankie Knight: I’m only sorry that I was unable to fully join in today due to visitors who really would not understand being given all the makings of the meal and told to DIY! It truly looks to have been a very, very interesting day!

Fran Macilvey: Thanks so much, Frankie! I can appreciate visitors would like the personal touch. You did join in and ask lots of lovely questions, for which I thank you most sincerely. xxx

Frank Kusy: Congratulations Julie and Susan – you’ll just love this book!

Fran Macilvey: Thank you, Frank! xx

Frankie Knight: I’m off to my cot now so will say nighty night to everyone, sweet dreams!

Dodie Shea: So sorry I was so late signing on. Just read through all of your comments Fran. You are truly an amazing woman! Well done!

Fran Macilvey: Dodie, I’m still here, and if you have any questions after reading the thread, just ask. xx

Dodie Shea: I think you covered much of your life today Fran. You have to be ready to stretch your legs. I commend you for overcoming any physical problems you had, never letting it interfere with what you wanted to accomplish!

Fran Macilvey: Thanks!

Frank Kusy: Everybody going to bed already? I’m just waking up!

–Fran, it’s been a great fred, well done for the stamina in keeping it up…and for being so open about your life, hopes and dreams. How do you see yourself in ten years from now? xx

Fran Macilvey: In ten years? Grey haired, smiling and ready to go sailing around the world, from the comfort of a wheelchair, probably. I’ve already beaten the odds by about ten years. I hope I’ll still be writing. I hope Seline is a happy grownup, and I hope Eddie can put up with me that long. xxx

Susan Joyce: Wow! I won! Julie is a winner too. Many thanks Fran! Spotlight Sundays are my kind of church. Love it!

Frank Kusy: Nah, you’ll be world famous and too important to talk to the likes of us xxx

Susan Joyce: Fran, your ten years answer is wonderful. Bless you!

Fran Macilvey: Awwwww, really??? You say the loveliest things, Frank. BUT, I’ll always be here to talk to any of you. Just ask. xxx

Frank Kusy: Agreed Susan, wonderful answer, may all those sentiments come true

Susan Joyce: How did you choose your daughter’s name? It’s lovely and unusual.

Frank Kusy: Will you still be talking to me when I’m an (even more) impoverished author singing sea shanties outside the local pub with a cat and a blanket? xxx

Fran Macilvey: Oh, of course, Frank. So long as your breath smells sweet and you keep a smile up your sleeve.

— How did we choose Seline? Well, we didn’t really. It just came to us. It is unusual, and someone said it means, “moon” which I think is lovely.

Frank Kusy: Aw, you got such a big heart

Gramma Lupcho: How long did it take to write your book??

Susan Joyce: Gorgeous! Thanks!

Fran Macilvey: I got the first draft down in about three months, Gramma Lupcho, but I ended up writing three books and throwing out the first two. The first was a really rather fanciful account about my grandparents. The second, ditto about my parents, and then I felt ready to write the third. After the first write, it was about three years of edits and rewrites. xx

Gramma Lupcho: I admire your perseverance!! Can’t wait to get it and read. You are a lovely lady.

Fran Macilvey: Thank you so much. Perseverance is something else I’ve had to learn – there has been so many things to learn, it seems. My life used to be festooned with unfinished projects.

–Sleep well. World. XXXX

Susan Joyce: Fran, if you’re heading to bed, thanks again for being so real. I look forward to reading your book. Bet it will inspire me to move forward and finish a few projects that have been in the waiting wing for too long. Sleep well! xx

Frank Kusy: Nitey nite Fran, you’ve been a hostess with the moistest xxx

–Sorry, ‘mostest’

Victoria Twead: Thanks, Fran for a totally brilliant day, I see I have a lot to catch up on! Also thanks for choosing the winners, and congrats to Susan Joyce and Julie Haigh for winning ecopies of Trapped. I’ll send them in the morning.

Nancy Gould Gomoll: Finally got around to reading your Fred after everyone had signed off for the night! What an interesting day you had. So good to get to know you through all the comments. I must tell you how much I admire you, Fran Macilvey for all you have overcome and accomplished in your life. To add to part of the conversation, I think it would be really helpful for kids with disabilities if you were to write a kids book. Also, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is one of my favorite books. After reading it, I thought it should be mandatory reading for all health care workers. It is a very powerful read. I look forward to reading your book now! Thanks for spending a day with WLM and sharing your life with us….

Terry Bryan: This really has been a great thread. We are all so very lucky to be here and meet such wonderful people-Fran Macilvey-you are to be admired…please do tell young people with disabilities how to change the way they feel about themselves. As Nancy said, it would be so helpful. Thank you for being you!

Micki Stokoe: Fantastic thread! You really are a special lady, Fran. Wish I could have joined in, but have a great deal of preparation to do for Guide camp this coming weekend, and am rapidly running out of time! I’d love to sing with you though, & will think of you when we sing round the campfire!


The next day—May 19, 2014

Fran Macilvey: Thanks, everyone. It was a fantastic day. Thanks for all the ‘likes’ and laughs and the generous comments and questions. ((((xxxx)))

‘Who are these, sitting beneath the trees, with a …song in their heart to ease the load, it is forty years or more since they crowded through the door, and they’re striding along as brave and strong as ever they were before, they are GUIDES ALL GUIDES and in unexpected places, you’ll see their friendly faces and their ready hands besides….and there’s not much danger of finding you’re a stranger, from commissioner to ranger they are guides, ALL GUIDES!’ Enjoy camp, Micki! Hope the weather is good. xxx

Micki Stokoe: Thank you! The theme is I’m a Guide – get me out of here, so survival skills & some very messy games are in the mix!

Julie Haigh: Victoria, just letting you know I’ve received my copy of Fran’s book, many thanks for sending.

Janet Hughes: Read it slowly Julie Haigh it’s wonderful.

Julie Haigh: I will Janet, I’m sure I will enjoy it, I loved Fran’s writing style yesterday and that was just the spontaneous kind, answering all our questions. I could have talked to her all day long………..oh, I did!

Fran Macilvey: LOL! Yes, you did, and you must be a bit tired today, so just take your time, okay?

Susan Joyce: Victoria & Fran, just received my copy of Fran’s book. Muchas gracias!



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