Discussing Do What You Love with MJ Mallon

It’s over four years since last I stayed in with lovely MJ Mallon to chat about her book The Curse of Time in a post you’ll find here. With Marjorie’s latest book Do What You Love, Fragility of Your Flame coming out on 25th November I simply had to invite her back for a further chat. As well as staying in with Marjorie today I’m delighted to share my review of Do What You Love, Fragility of Your Flame too.

Let’s find out more:

Staying in with MJ Mallon

Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Marjorie. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Hello Linda, many thanks for inviting me to an evening in with you.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

The book I have brought along today is my latest poetry, flash fiction and photography collection entitled Do What You Love, Fragility of Your Flamean inspiring little number!

It really is! I know I’ve already read it, but tell others what they can expect from an evening in with Do What You Love

Amongst other things, it features me chatting philosophically with the three sisters of fate about my life-to-date. I share my photos, thoughts, poems about life, family, travel, love and all manner of shenanigans and.. being brave, embracing change and always doing what you love!

At the moment… hubby and I are in the process of altering our lifestyle by moving abroad… tricky due to Covid, Brexit and oodles of bureaucracy. But, in time, with patience I am sure we will get there.

You will! So where are you going?

This is where we are living part of the year… Tavira in Portugal.

How wonderful! But you say part of the year?

The rest of the time I live in Edinburgh, my home from home, and I also spend time with kind friends in Cambridge, (both of these cities triggered my enthusiasm for writing and I have a deep fondness for both – I grew up in Edinburgh, and discovered the ‘real author/blogger me,’ in Cambridge.)

This is a poem excerpt from Do What You Love relating to the above photo of Tavira.

a fairy tale sight,

three bridges cross the river,

tranquil Tavira,

magic me to new delights,

a ferry to the beaches!

Image and Poem © M J Mallon

That’s lovely Marjorie. So why did you decide to present your work in Do What You Want in this way?

Why poetry, short prose and photography? I have a fondness for poetic and short form expression and believe that a few well chosen words can convey so much. I’m thrilled that two of my poetry collections Mr. Sagittarius Poetry and Prose and Lockdown Innit Poems About Absurdity have been requested by prestigious libraries in the UK. So, perhaps I am doing something right!

You must! Congratulations. 

What about photography? I am a keen photographer. It’s in the genes… my grandfather and uncle had a photography business and were very successful before the advent of war.

This is a house with strong photography links too Marjorie – did you know I was a wedding photographer’s assistant to my husband for several years? Tell me, how has Do What You Love been received so far?

There have been some interesting observations from early reviews of Do What You Love

★★★★★ 5 stars Oh what a lovely book, filled with poetic gems and beautiful prose!
I enjoy reading MJ Mallon’s poetic fiction, where she ties poetry with prose, and have read several of her previous books written similarly.
Do What You Love is almost autobiographical in a sense that she has taken her memories and written them in poetic form, and the fictional, almost fantastical element is where she meets the three sisters of fate through her journey of reminiscences, and they talk about her different memories.
It’s not linear, but no conversation ever is, is it? Memories jump from the more recent to the older ones as they come tumbling into your mind.
I felt a keen connection to the poems about her daughters, and the autumn trees. Autumn is one of my favourite seasons.
A lovely book with a personal touch. Ritu – But I Smile Anyway.

★★★★★ 5 stars I’ve read this author’s work before: young adult novels, poetry and flash fiction, and I love her imaginative handling of the magical, the phantasmagorical and surreal. This short book is no exception to the quality of MJ Mallon’s output. I found her exploration of her past life captivating.

We may consider that the inclusion of often very personal material in a compilation of this sort would make it difficult for the outside reader to find a way in. This is not true at all of MJ Mallon’s poetry and prose: in many places, I related so much to what she writes, especially about a daughter ‘flying the nest’ to a faraway country. I particularly loved the device MJ Mallon uses to draw all this together: she presents it as a conversation with Atropos, one of the three Fates in Greek mythology: the Morai.

Atropos presides over the past. I thought this worked extremely well as a central metaphor. It had me googling the three Fates, and reading all about them: Clotho, who spins the threads of life, guardian of the present; Lachesis, who measures the length of life with her measuring rod, and is guardian of the future: and Atropos, who is the guardian of fate and destiny, and who chooses the manner of death by snipping the threads of an individual’s life.

MJ Mallon has had a fascinating and varied life experience: born in Singapore, she spent her childhood in Hong Kong and her teens in Edinburgh. She now lives in Cambridge. Every culture she has lived in, I believe, has influenced her imagination, her interests and her approach as a writer. In this book, we find a compilation of words and images which draw us in: poignant, sensitive, delicate, playful, as she opens up for us her past and present relationships, the places she has loved and spent time in, and her thoughts and feelings about it all.

A highly recommended book for you. Review by Sheila Robinson

You must be utterly thrilled with those responses Marjorie!

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

Ah, an easy one to answer! I am missing certain foods at the moment, living part of the year in Portugal! There are no Chinese dim sum restaurants here. So I have brought along a small selection of my favourites, char sui dumplings and prawn sui mai. And… a little morsel of cake that I mention in the book… don’t worry I have brought an extra piece for you Linda!

Phew!

Sometimes, the tiniest of foods, whether savoury or sweet, are akin to the shortest forms of poetry – the most delectable and delicious! Here is said morsel… one bite, then another and it is all gone! Even though this darling mouthful was in my tummy years ago, I can still taste the strawberry mousse and the tiny white chocolate twirl on top. Sublime.

shall I start eating?

this cheeky dessert mouthful,

or just admire it?

fork poised in the air trembling.

such decisions, decisions!

 Image and Poem © M J Mallon

I’m not sure I’d be able to wait long enough to make the decision! I’d need to eat it right away! Thanks so much for coming back to Linda’s Book Bag Marjorie. It’s been lovely chatting with you about Do What You Love. Now, you dish up the dim sum and I’ll give readers a few more details about Do What You Love before I share my review:

Do What You Love, Fragility of Your Flame

Do What You Love is a personal poetry collection celebrating how the fates may have a part in all that we do.

With special poems and short reflective moments inspired by family, flowers and nature, love, scrumptious morsels, places I’ve visited, lived and intend to live in, the friendships and hopes I have for the future.

The overarching theme is to live a life well lived… And to do what you love.

float along with me
create clouds of sweetest joy
to do what you love
hold fate’s hand as we venture
near and far on life’s journey

Published on 25th November 2022, Do What You Love, Fragility of Your Flame is available on Amazon UKAmazon US and Amazon Canada.

My Review of Do What You Love, Fragility of Your Flame

A small and perfectly formed collection about finding your way in life.

Do What You Love is simply lovely. Marjorie Mallon bases her collection on an iterative image of and conversation with the Fates as well as the concept of doing what a person loves and she affords the reader a personal insight into her life and family as she does so. I really recommend reading her author introduction in advance of the rest of the book because it sets the scene so beautifully.

Given that this is a very personal book, I was concerned that it would be too specific to the author. Not a bit of it.  There’s a wide range in Do What You Love that encompasses poetry, prose and photography so that there really is something for every reader. I particularly enjoyed the variety of writing style. The first entry, Fragility Of Your Flame, feels very traditional in style, reminiscent of traditional fables and this is continued throughout the collection, giving balance to the shorter entries as the author imagines conversations with the Fates that enable her to reflect on her life and family.

There’s such a range of emotion in Do What You Love. Parents will experience the pain of letting go of their children even whilst they might be immensely proud of them. Marjorie Mallon illustrates love, joy, sadness, pride, the impact of nature on an individual and so much more. Her sense of place and history comes through with just a tweak of her pen and she so celebrates a childlike sense of awe and joy that she helps readers connect (or indeed reconnect) with their own happiness. I especially enjoyed the entries about trees because the author reignited my love of nature.

Do What You Love is a highly personal collection to Marjorie Mallon, but at the same time as giving readers a glimpse into who she is and where she has come from, she gently guides readers to contemplate their own lives, to live more positively and to appreciate each moment. This is such a wonderful message. and a much needed one in today’s world.

About MJ Mallon

Marjorie

M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of storytelling began bolstered by these vivid raconteurs. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives sometimes in the UK, and often times in Portugal.. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery smile to greet her.

Her motto is to always do what you love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too.

You’ll find Marjorie on Facebook and Instagram and can follow her on Twitter @Marjorie_Mallon or visit her blog for further information.

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