Friday, 18 April 2014

Author Interview & Giveaway: Anna Birch

Today I have a quick interview with debut author Anna Birch about her memoir, Call the Vet , which gives us a glimpse into her first year as a country vet.    

When fresh-faced, newly qualified vet Anna arrives in the seemingly sleepy Dorset village of Ebbourne, little does she know that this tiny rural community is about to change her life . 

Straight in at the deep end, Anna faces two tricky calvings, an emergency call-out to a frightened mare, lots of mad cats (and mad cat women) and one enormous dog with an injured leg and a threatening bark. Spirited and determined, Anna quickly finds her feet and falls in love with rural life, including Ebbourne's eccentric characters and their animals. 

Disasters, dramas, farmers and friendship - and not to mention a whirlwind romance with a local Wildlife Trust worker - this warm and witty memoir offers a window into what working with animals and country life is really all about. 

Can you tell us about your memoir, Call the Vet?
I really liked the description in my first review which labelled it as 'the literary lovechild of James Herriott and Bridget Jones'. It is an account of my first year in rural veterinary practice, set in beautiful Dorset. And like Bridget Jones I was pretty green, a bit hapless and experienced disasters and romance. It is a reflection of the work and my take on it; I tried to tell the mix of pathos and humour.

What inspired you to write about your experiences as a country vet?
Like so many people I had always hankered after writing a book. Years ago I met up with some friends and was regaling them with tales of veterinary adventures and was later approached by Deborah Crewe, a writer, to put these stories down in writing. At the same time my sister-in-law had been on a writing course and passed on the advice to write about what you know: this is my life, life as I know it!

What is your most memorable encounter so far as a vet that you'll tell your grandchildren when you are older?
Very good question. I guess meeting my husband (their grandpa!) over a sick cow may be of interest to them; also being covered in coffee and cling-film after a particularly messy night of calvings, as per the first chapter of Call the Vet, is pretty memorable!

What made you decide to practice in the country as opposed to the city?
Two things: firstly chance when one of my lecturers advised I apply for a Dorset job advertised on the college notice board, and secondly I knew I would feel a bit hemmed in in a city. I love big open spaces and I love cows.

When/ how did you decide that you wanted to be a vet?
It was my job choice from the age of six. Some of the first TV I ever watched was 'All Creatures Great and Small' and once I was free reading I devoured all of the great James Herriott's book. He was my hero. I remember living in Wiltshire and delivering squashed hedgehogs to the local vet believing he was amazing. However I was put off by a careers advisor at the age of 14 and took a rather unorthodox route to arrive at vet school as a mature student.

I'd imagine you're pretty run off your feet looking after your family as well as working as a vet, how did you manage to find the time to write this book?
I sacrificed the cleaning! I wrote partly in the evenings when the family was in bed but also the opportunity arose at a time when I was doing locum work which dried up so I was not so busy.

Are you planning to write about more of your encounters as a vet in the future?
I would love to. It has been enormous fun to relive the stories in Call the Vet and to glimpse the world of publishing and go to London - a very different world from mine of cows, cats and dogs in the country.

I was very fortunate to receive two copies of Call the Vet so I'm offering one follower the chance to win a copy to read.  To enter simply follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below.  Entries will close at midnight on publication day 24th April, when the winner will be selected and contacted for their postal address to enable me to post the book to you.  Sorry due to financial reasons I'm going to have to restrict this to UK & Europe only.     
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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