Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Lois Courtenay Henderson who has recently published Towns and Villages Situated Along the North TransPennine Line: A Collection of Word Search Puzzles.
parents emigrated from England to South Africa at the end of the
Second World War. Starting her career as a librarian, she later took
up teaching, in which career she taught at all levels, ranging from
primary through secondary, and up to tertiary. She is currently a
freelance back-of-book indexer and academic editor, as well as a book
reviewer for bookpleasures.com.
She has always had a keen interest in all things British, and intends to spend as much time in future as she can on travel through the British Isles, mainly by train.
Norm: Good day Lois and thanks for taking the time to participate in our interview.
Lois: Good day, Norm. It is an honor to be interviewed by you.
Norm: What is a back-of-book indexer?
Lois: A back-of-book indexer is a professional indexer of books. Due to my teaching qualifications, I specialize in educational texts at all levels, so if any of your readers/reviewers have an educational text to index, they’re welcome to approach me for my fee structures.
Norm: What do you think is the future of reading/writing and what do you think of the new Internet market for writers?
Lois: The future of reading/writing is incredibly bright―there is just so much both to read and write out there.
As a reader, more than ever,
one requires skill to sift through the chaff to find the real gems
out there, so the function of the librarian is becoming ever more
important. I’d advise all readers to make friends with their local
public librarians, so that they can come to know your needs and
interests, and advise you accordingly.
The Internet as a marketing tool for authors is exciting and highly accessible―never before have authors been able to make their texts available to the public as quickly, cost efficiently and broadly as they can now. Everyone should try to write at least something during their lifetime, and, as writing is totally addictive, soon there’ll be even more information and stories available to all.
Norm: How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
Lois: For me, the printed book will never be replaced by the cold metallic ereader, so print books, for the sheer comfort of being able to touch and smell a physical page, will always outweigh ebooks in my consideration. I love alternative publishing, as it provides me with an opportunity to publish with convenience and speed from the comfort of my own home.
Norm: Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be?
Lois: Writers should ideally have professional integrity, meaning that they should be true to themselves and to their audience. The discerning reader can see through any effort to hoodwink them into believing something in which the author him/herself does not believe, and can become justifiably irate, so beware the would-be scammer! This holds true for all genres.
Norm: What did you find most useful in learning to writing book reviews and could you tell us how you go about writing a review?
Writing book reviews enables one to strip a text down to its basic
core. One is required to discern the intent of the author(s) and to
assess whether, indeed, they have satisfied their self-set mandate.
The courage to probe and not to be taken in, or waylaid, by
falsehoods (please see my previous answer in this respect) can appear
daunting at times, especially when one is dealing with experts in
their field. However, if, as a reviewer, you strive to crack open the
sometimes steely-appearing heart of the author, as revealed through
his/her work, you are likely to be able to attain the target of
writing an incisive book review.
Always be open to the uniqueness of the author’s voice, and to what makes his/her work stand out above the rest.
Norm: What served as the primary inspiration for Towns and Villages Situated Along the North TransPennine Line: A Collection of World Search Puzzles and could you tell us a little about the book?
This collection of word search puzzles was
inspired by the multiple journeys that I took by train as a teenager
in Cape Town to visit my British-born father in Kalk Bay. The train,
between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, runs between the coastal suburbs of
False Bay on the one side, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.
The social insights that these trips gave me into the wide disparity in our society, which, to a somewhat milder extent, continues even to the current day, was an eye-opener to the inequalities prevailing at the time – from the palatial mansions dominating the mountain slopes in Muizenberg, to the festive and sometimes, at holiday times, raucous family parties that used to gather in the lee of the harbor wall at Kalk Bay, it was all memorable and picturesque to my as yet relatively undeveloped, and impressionable, mind.
journey farther up the line, though, was rather long, and I used not
to enjoy reading overly much en route, as fellow passengers tended to
be somewhat distracting. Armed with a puzzle book and pen or pencil,
though, I used to board the train quite gleefully, as I knew that I
could both observe the landscape and those seated around me at my
ease, in between broadening my general knowledge by doing crosswords
and word searches.
The names of the stations always intrigued me along the way, giving rise to a longing to know more about the suburbs of Cape Town of which I caught glimpses from the train.
for both the train, and armchair, traveler, this collection of
augmented word search puzzles and their solutions takes the ardent
puzzler on a journey from Liverpool to Sunderland, providing
interesting snippets of information pertaining to the cities, towns
and villages with stations along the way. The origin of each place
name is given, with the vocabulary lists being comprised of pertinent
facts relating to the people, events and landmarks associated with
the areas concerned.
When the words given in the lists have all been
struck through, the remaining letters in each puzzle spell out part
of a quotation relevant to the particular place. Each quotation is
contextualized in a paragraph or two which gives additional insight
into the topic involved. The vocabulary lists are easy to understand,
with the explanations of any abbreviations used being provided in an
An index, arranged according to place name, gives the location of all puzzles and solutions, thus providing ease of access for any teacher who might decide to use the puzzles in a classroom setting.
Norm: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Lois: With this book, which I hope will serve as the first of a series of such puzzle books on the towns and cities along the rail routes in the British Isles, it is my dearest wish that other rail travelers will at least be able to gain some insight into the towns, cities and villages through which they pass. Perhaps they might even be tempted to read up further about aspects of the places that they had never before considered.
How well I’ve achieved my goals and intentions with the book, only time and feedback both from the sales of the book and from those readers/puzzlers who are kind enough to provide me with constructive feedback will tell. I therefore welcome readers letting me know via Twitter (@LoisCHenderson) what they think of the current work, so that I can improve it, and so that I can do better in the works to come.
Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing this book and what did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Lois: I love doing word search puzzles, as well as finding out previously unknown facts, so it has been a total pleasure to me. I still need to hone my formatting skills, though, so if I raise enough funding through this work, I hope to be able to afford the services of a professional setter in future,
Norm: What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
Most word search puzzle books have random lists of words on a vast
variety of topics―Towns and Villages Situated Along the North
TransPennine Line: A Collection of Word Search Puzzles focuses on a
set geographical area, and has a target audience of those who are
already interested in the area, and who wish to know a little more
The vocabulary lists are also augmented by the contextualized quotation, which provides added insight into key people, landmarks and events associated with the area.
Norm: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Lois: I learned to have patience when compiling puzzles―it has taken me since 2012 to complete this book, as I have to earn my own income, and I can only do it between indexes and edits. I hope to improve my speed of delivery in future.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and Towns and Villages Situated Along the North TransPennine Line: A Collection of Word Search Puzzles?
Lois: They are welcome to read my many reviews and, hopefully, an increasing number of author interviews that are kindly posted by yourself, Norm, on this very site (bookpleasures.com)―I am extremely grateful to you for inspiring me to do as much reviewing as I have done over the years, and for giving me a platform for my writing.
Norm: What is next for Lois Courtenay Henderson?
Lois: My next word search puzzle book will be on other rail routes across England, namely the TransPennine North West and the South TransPennine.
Norm: As this interview comes to an end, what question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
Lois: (With somewhat of a tongue in cheek) How can we, as a rail/tourism company, include your work on our sites?
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.
Lois: Thank you, Norm. I’ve really enjoyed answering your insightful questions. May bookpleasures.com continue to thrive in the years to come.