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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Meet Author Hilda Lassalette

Hello, I am Hilda Muriel Lassalette. I was born in 1916 in a small village within walking distance of Whitehaven, Cumbria, England. Unable, healthwise, to attend my christening in an Anglican Church on a hill, my mother sent her two sisters and one brother to be my godparents. They threatened to name me Elizabeth Jane, not Hilda Muriel -- the Muriel after the doctor who delivered me -- but Mom's choice won out.

My father was a barber, his hobby was raising homing pigeons and racing them. I have a silver chalice dated 1905 which one of his birds won. He liked to go hunting for rabbits and
small birds, and always had a couple of thoroughbred dogs around. He was good at sketching pigeons and dogs. At home, we had a friendly white bull terrier.

My mother read books whenever she could. She wanted to be a schoolteacher. Her mother would not allow this because her sister, a teacher, died from consumption. Thus, Mom started a dressmaker's shop, hiring women to sew for her.

The Irish Sea framed one side of the village. Down the main street ran a high railroad. To reach the sand, one had to go under tunnels beside the tracks. A train tooted its way down the tracks once a day. Mom yearned for our family, now including a brother born in 1920, to be on it, heading toward the States.

One day the village was shelled by a German submarine. Villagers ran up the hills (brows) to escape. Father had bad knees and wasn't accepted for the Army, but was put to work in a nearby mine under the sea.

In 1920, sponsored by a countryman who guaranteed him a job in a mine in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Father sailed to America on a passenger ship, entering the States through Ellis Island. In 1921, the three of us (Mom, my brother, and me) sailed to the US. Aboard ship, I got a nail in my foot. Mom had to leave my 9 month old brother with a stranger while she took me to the ship's doctor. We went to Halifax and on to Ellis Island.

Leaving a sea level village for the high altitude of Wyoming did not agree with my mother. High winds were common. One day I had to hang onto a fence to keep from being blown away. I yelled and yelled and Mom finally reached me. I loved the huge sunflowers against our fence and seeing Dad on a horse while wearing his cowboy hat. A good neighbor told Dad my mother would die if she stayed there. So, after a short time, we boarded a train, changed in Chicago, and traveled to New York where we took a ship back to the UK.

Back in England, Mom said, "We won't get anywhere if we live here." This time we landed in New York where Dad was hired as a kennel manager for a 5th Avenue jeweler who owned an estate on Long Island. We had a a house of our own. Next door, the gardener, his wife, and two children had their own house. Pear trees grew on the property and we had a great time playing in the barn with the neighbor children. I remember walking home from school with snow reaching my knees.

After that, we lived in various parts of the East. My folks had friends in various places. I remember names, but not much else. Syracuse, Rochester, Wilkes Barre. Dad said I had been in fourteen schools when we reached Whittier, California. I was ten.

My father answered an ad for a kennel manager in Compton, California. We rented a house there. My poor Mom said it was full of bed bugs. She and Dad worked all night until they got it clean enough for us to sleep in. I remember when the California rains flooded the streets and we traveled in row boats to the market.

Dad didn't like working for a woman, so he left that job and accepted one as a kennel manager for a
man in Whittier until he could build his own kennel, which he did in 1928. The four of us traveled to England while our house was being built. We visited relatives we hadn't seen for years. I remember my grandmother wouldn't let me play hopscotch on the sidewalk on Sunday. My uncle took me for a motorcycle ride and grandmother told me to hang on tight. I was twelve and I held both arms up in the air as soon as he started the machine. My grandmother died shortly after our trip and I never saw her again. I never met my paternal grandparents or my maternal grandfather.

In Whittier I attended Jonathan Bailey School, John Muir, and Whittier Union High School, and I belonged to the Girl Scouts. In junior high, I entered an essay contest and won. My essay was published and I received a Girl Scout ring. Sadly, I don't have a copy of it. At WUHS, I worked on the school paper as the gossip columnist. I also belonged to a poetry group and we made booklets of our poems.

I took two years of an Adult Education Writing Class. Susan Dibelka was the instructor. In 1962, I was admitted to the Writer's Club of Whittier (which Susan founded) by selling a children's short story. I joined the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America in 1989.

I sold several young adult stories to Teen Magazine, several children's stories to other magazines, along with newspaper articles, poetry, and greeting card verse. Word count was extremely important and I learned to carefully count and delete words.

I used a typewriter, making three carbon copies. Writing my first book, I set four pages a day as my goal. If I missed a page, it was added to the next day's
requirement. A computer was a step up, bringing its own problems. After writing five books, using memories of my English background, my father's dogs and birds, and my traveling life, I sold number six, Fishing for Love, in 2013. A year later, I sold Amy, Jen and the Demon. I am now working on number eight.

I am asked the usual questions: where ideas come from, how long it takes to write a book, etc. As I wrote this blog I realized my writing talents no doubt come from my mother and my painting from my father. I have been inundated with stories about England my whole life and have visited many times. No wonder bits and pieces creep into my stories.

My father was in the dog business and traveled to the UK to buy thoroughbred dogs for wealthy fanciers on the dog show circuit after 1928. He handled dogs at the shows, besides showing his own, and occasionally being a judge. Therefore, my stories usually include a dog.

A house is not a home without a dog. Since I married we have always had one, even in our first home. When our beloved Dalmation died, we didn't think we could go through such sorrow again.
We held off for four months, now we have a female Rat Terrier.

I think the urge to write is born in a person and will eventually show up. I believe my mother's love of books and my father's love of drawing his dogs and birds were genetically handed down to me. I took thirty years of art classes through Adult Education. Both crafts take perseverance and exposure to fellow writers and painters, along with a tough ability to accept criticism and not get annoyed, or darned mad, sometimes.

My books can be found at Smashwords    Kindle    Nook
Keep writing, 


  1. Hilda, what an interesting and varied life you've had. It makes my life look so mundane. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Like all writers, I find people's lives fascinating. Some people have more fascinating lives than others. Yours must be filled with wonderful characters and settings to put into your story.

  3. Hilda--I enjoyed the journey of your life. You and your family almost wore yourselves out going back and forth! I began writing late in life, also, and what a ride it's been.
    Speaking of rides--is that an Indian motorcycle? I've seen one here in town in the Classic Car Museum...quite a place.
    Welcome to our group. I'm looking forward to learning more about you. You were born the same year as my mother. Sadly, she passed away in 2011. I am impressed with your longevity and your writing.

  4. What an interesting and well travelled life you have led. I love pets, too, and I understand how empty a house can feel without a dog in it. Like you, every time a have lost a beloved pet I don't think I can go through the sorrow of losing one again--and then I get another pet just the same.
    My mother's name was Hilda. She unfortunately died young at age 54. I liked your 2 aunties idea for names for you--Elizabeth is my sister's middle name, and Jane is my middle name.
    I wish you continued success with your books and a long and happy life, Hilda.

  5. So glad you shared your story, Hilda. You're an inspiration to those of us who started writing late in their life. I also agree with you that a house is not a home without a dog in it, so we have three. Good luck with you next work.

  6. Even though I already knew some of the history of your life, Hilda, I learned many more "fun" facts! Your growing up years were filled with adventure and extensive travel, a rich history from which to craft your wonderful stories. You are certainly an inspiration to me, not only in writing, but in other areas of life as well. Your writing is filled with love and humor, delightful stories that warm the heart!

  7. Hilda sent an email late this evening. She had a fall several weeks ago and suffered a fracture which kept her down for a while. But this is what she said to all of us:
    I appreciate all of the great comments. I'm feeling much better and can walk with a walker and have cut my 3 hr daily help to 3 days a week. Soon I'll be back on my own with my son, my dog and my computer and less interruptions.
    God Bless. Hilda.

  8. Best wishes for a full recovery, Hilda.

  9. I echo Vicki's comments above. I have known you since 1973, but I didn't know a lot of this detail. It's so great that your books are out. I remember hearing Fishing for Love in the Whittier critique group. Reading it straight through was a pleasure! Now I'm reading Jen and the Demon, and it's delightful!

  10. Hilda, what a wonderful life's journey you have had so far. I am sorry that you had a fall recently but I can see that you are a lady who can make the best of any situation and keep on going. I visited your part of England when my husband and I lived in Hull for almost two years and it is beautiful. And so is California where we have lived three times in the last several years. I wish you a complete recovery from your accident and many more stories published. It is my honor to know you.

  11. Hilda, thanks for sharing your life's story with all of us! What an amazing journey! *g* I'm so glad to hear you're working on your current book and even more glad to hear you're on the mend. Take care and make sure you get some "you time" in between all of the writing.


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