IMG_1168Pauline, you are a Naples based author, you wrote 8 books: Chasing Brenda; Naga Queen; Still Pedaling; If You Love Me, Kill Me; Myanmar: In My Father’s Footstep; A Corporal’s War; The Unfriendly Bee; Extreme Delight. What are you working on now?

I’m writing a fiction story set in real events of WWII, during the Japanese invasion of Burma when 500,000 people walked out of the country to seek safety in India. Estimates vary, 50 000 – 100 000 people died on the track out. I write this book because this is my way to honor soldiers who fought in this theater of war.

Is it possible today to earn a good living as a novelist?

To be a writer is like being an actor- most of the time you are unemployed and broke. Never start writing thinking you will get rich.

Does self-publishing make sense for a new writer?

It makes perfect sense. I self-published all my books. You can find my work on amazon: Traditional publishers will not invest much in promoting a new writer and will take 20% cut of the profit.

IMG_1165What was your fist book, and why did you write it?

The first book I wrote was “A Corporal’s War”, it is over 300 pages long. I never wanted to be a writer before this book. One day, my mother went to the hospital for the knee surgery and I stayed with my dad (79 years old at the time) to help him out. He began to tell me war stories, and I discovered they were fascinating. I wanted to write it all down for the grand kids. Before I knew it, it turned into a book.

You are originally from England, how did you end up in Naples FL?

It was a good luck. My husband and I flew into Miami from England, and then we decided to explore the west coast of Florida. It was 1991. We fell in love with Naples.

In England you have universal healthcare, the NHS, what do you think about it? Some people think your system is going broke and not working.

The one payer system will always need support and supporting it is less expensive for the country than not supporting it. Sick people need disability and sickness welfare benefits. Better to provide treatment so people can get to work.

The NHS worked fine until Maggie Thatcher did her best to destroy it and dismantle it. She also caused ruin to the country. The high unemployment rates she created meant people, almost 10% of workers, were unemployed. Thus 10 % could not pay their National Insurance Stamp from their wages as they had none and so monetary support for the system fell down.  Peter, my husband, a master electrician, was unemployed for 2 years. Welfare systems should encourage economic policies that create full employment to fund the safety net.

You will read articles that compare salaries of UK docs to USA docs. They don’t point out that UK docs don’t have to find $125,000 p. a. or more for liability insurance as do USA docs. The NHS covers that cost.

I could go on. For example, is it worth an 18 week wait for a hernia op or find 20% of the cost of a USA operation and risk bankruptcy. When I first emigrated to USA, I sat in at some bankruptcy proceedings and was amazed that most bankruptcies stemmed from medical bills. Suffice to say a one payer system needs to be tended to in order to work well and I think it should be available to all. Having a one payer system does not preclude those who want to buy private insurance from doing so. That is the system in UK.

My friend and neighbor, Anna, 40, had a private operation for a back problem. Her doctor was an NHS doctor freelancing for the private sector. It went wrong and Anna was whisked into an NHS intensive care ward. Because private hospitals could do that, it meant that premiums for private health insurance were cheap. Also, nobody is making a profit off your illness coverage in a single payer system. Anna died. Her husband, in deep grief, was having to contend with bills from the private hospital demanding payment. He was suicidal. If I had had cancer in UK, I wouldn’t have had to deal with all the bills that were coming in when I was so frail. Payment is made from your wages. When someone is sick in the UK, all they have to focus on is getting well.

Needless to say, I believe all people should have health care coverage they can afford. I don’t understand why employers should be footing the bill to see that employees are covered. I bet a lot of employers would welcome a release of that burden. The health care system in UK worked fabulously for years and then the politicians interfered.