Home page: www.myspace.com/angelacollier
Is London to Las Vegas your first book?
For the last ten years I have been writing. Hence this book ‘London To Las Vegas’ but I also have another book published by Astemari called ‘Strangers on the Shore’ and I am currently working on my next novel.
What is it that had inspired you to write London to Las Vegas?
The inspiration to write this book came from my knowledge of life at the Lido and Casino du Liban. I knew Miss Bluebell very well and we corresponded over the years until shortly before her death. I sent her an initial draft of the book and she was pleased that I had been inspired by her enough to write a book. My observations of her and Charlie Henchis in their work led me to think about writing loosely about their professional lives and the day to day running of their dance troupes, business affairs and the stamina and determination they both had to succeed.
As I knew Miss Bluebell’s childhood was very similar to my mother’s, they were both adopted, I decided to use my mother’s background as the catalyst for my character ‘Kathleen Wayre’ using my mother’s maiden name. My mother was never a dancer but in the book I use dancing lessons as the springboard to success for the character. This is a love story and I used the concept of unconditional love – a love that lasts throughout the decades and which is rekindled after many years.
Your book is about to be distributed widely, what is one word that describes how you feel knowing that your book would be read by many?
ELATED would be the perfect word to describe my emotions.
Did you have a readership in mind when you were putting together your book?
Yes, teenagers and women of all ages.
Firstly, the romantic triangle brings to the fore embedded feelings experienced by many women so they can easily relate to the emotions of the three main characters described in the story. Readers will be able to identify with many of the torments that Kathleen experiences - illegitimacy – inadequacy –the insecurity of loving a married man – rejection - the need to prove oneself.
The moral of this story being that it is certainly possible to love someone unconditionally – love just exists in spite of oneself and life’s obstacles.
Your story started in pre-World War II London with the Smedley family living in penuriousness and concluded in Las Vegas, the Entertainment Capital of the world in 1998 with Kathleen living in Luxury. Why do you think that each young woman should own a copy for herself?
Young people need inspiration in their life and I hope they will derive it from this story. Although it is a work of fiction many people have started out in life at a disadvantage but through determination they have succeeded. If young women can put obstacles behind them and move on they will discover that there is so much waiting for them in life. If they keep their goals in focus, and understand that life’s trials strengthen us and endeavour to surround themselves with positive influences they can realize their dreams.
This love story demonstrates that to love someone and to be loved holds no conditions – one simply loves. The power of attraction is at work here – all of us need love and Kathleen, the main character, was fortunate to have attracted love to her when she was least expecting it. But Kathleen also experienced heartache in many forms and her dedication to work enabled her to endure it. She did move off course for a while, upsetting the balance between ambition and the commitment to the man who had loved her for decades and she paid the final price when he died suddenly and she was left alone.
The majority of young women will never be rich or famous nor do they have to be to experience happiness and fulfilment but I hope they will be inspired by Kathleen and recognise that life does hold opportunities for all of us if we prepare ourselves for it. Kathleen had a natural ability for dance and through hard work and dedication opportunities arose which as an illegitimate child she could only dream of.
London to Las Vegas can be classified as a ‘Rags to Riches’ story, what makes it standout or different from the many others such stories on the bookstore shelves?
This story is set within the realms of show business and people enjoy an insight into that world. I take the reader from the poverty of pre-war East End London, through the Blitz during the Second World War and the hardships experienced by Londoners, over to New York, Broadway and finally Las Vegas. So the pace changes continually and so do the settings for the characters. The three main characters are caught up in a love triangle and I explore their emotions, the intense joy and then the excruciating pain of feared rejection. Music, dance, costumes and choreography are the props of this story and so the overall theme is very different to the majority of love stories that I have read. I decided to write about what I knew and bring glamour to a love story while touching on aspects of life that ring true for so many ordinary people
The plot of the book is set in an environment of Show business, Kathleen the protagonist of the story happens to be your mother. We have learnt that you are into show biz also, could this be described as a family legacy?
Yes it could for the following reason. I have based the character Kathleen Wayre on my mother’s childhood using her name. When I realised the parallels that existed between Miss Bluebell’s upbringing and my mother’s I decided to write a fictional story whereby my mother went on to fame and fortune. My mother never experienced any form of fame but her great-grandfather was the agent and songwriter to a famous English music-hall artist named Marie Lloyd. This artist was as famous in her day as the Beatles. (late 1800’s-early 1900’s) My mother’s mother and rest of the family were also music-hall entertainers but because my mother was illegitimate she neither benefited nor knew of this liaison until an adult. So, I thought I would change my mother’s destiny through fiction and although she is not alive now I know she would have been thrilled to see this book in print.
(Elma if you look up on Goggle the name Marie Lloyd/ Queen of the music halls George Ware/ patriotic songwriter there is a lot of information about them)
Kathleen was fortunate to have two men in her live that loved her with their very heart; the love displayed by both was exemplary, almost divine. But Tony’s was tested in many ways and still remained true. Do you think that life was fair enough to him in its reward for such true and enduring love?
No it wasn’t but not all the blame can be apportioned to Kathleen. The war intervened and their separation completely changed the course he had envisioned for the two of them. Like many men who served during the Second World War he was shipped abroad, saw action and then wounded. These experiences meant he lost contact with Kathleen and she had to fend for herself. Then after the war he was never able to escape her celebrity as much as he tried to ignore it – so she was always on his mind. By the time he meets up with her years later she is a changed person and her ambition causes her to lose sight of what they should have together in their marriage. When she realises her mistake little does she know that their days together would be so short lived. So, although fairness does not play a great part in Tony’s life he does experience a love so great which many men never have the opportunity to find in a life time.
Do you have any advice for young women who might be in the same situation as Kathleen in her initial years?
My advice would be that however difficult and hopeless our initial years may be, or if we experience limitations, do not dwell on that fact. Instead, believe that you deserve and are worthy of everything you want in life. This is a difficult concept to take on board, especially when it is so easy to view life in negative terms when all around you appears that way but we can pull ourselves out of that mode if we aim for a goal in life and preparation is the key. If you have an artistic talent find the means to develop it or study towards the profession you choose to practise. Don’t be reticent in asking for help along the way – there will be someone out there who takes the time to help you if you help yourself.
Published writer: Yes