Book Of The Month – Donkey Boy & Other Stories – By Mary Smith @marysmithwriter

After a month’s break, welcome back to my book of the month feature. To kick us off for 2018, I’d like to welcome Mary Smith to my blog. Over to you, Mary…

Thank you so much, Hugh. I’m truly honoured and excited to be here on your brilliant blog.

What’s the name of the book?
Donkey Boy & Other Stories, which, as the name implies is a collection of short stories.

#books #shortstories #authors

Tell us a little about the stories and the characters.
I’d have said there wasn’t a connecting theme but author Margaret Elphinstone who provided a testimonial for the back of the book describes the characters as ‘disinherited by mainstream cultures’, and I’m happy to go with that.

There’s the donkey boy of the title story, a young lad in Pakistan, who is confronted by a moral dilemma and there’s a visually impaired man in a residential home in Scotland who battles with staff over his socks. An adopted girl raises questions of identity, and a Victorian mouth artist is desperate to leave the circus. Then, there’s Molly who, when she can see something in some people’s eyes, knows all the nasty dark things the person has done.

It’s a slim collection but an eclectic mix of stories, characters and locations.

Where do your ideas for your stories come from?
Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere: memories, overheard conversation, things people have told me, visual prompts, life. Donkey Boy is based on an incident I experienced in Pakistan. The donkey boy really did question my lack of makeup and the colour of my teeth, though that’s not why I presented him with a moral dilemma!

Three Boys and a Piano was from a photo called Boys Smashing a Piano by Phillip Jones Griffiths, and the story was complete in my head almost from the moment I looked at the image. Miss Biffin was mentioned in a book on quirky characters and worthies in southwest Scotland. Born with no arms and legs, she became a mouth artist in the circus. Further research turned up another Miss Biffin, born in Somerset, who was exhibited in a sideshow. Thanks to a patron she became, for a while, a famous portrait painter. One day, I’d like to tell her story, too.

I have no idea where Molly, in The Thing in Your Eye came from – she was nattering away in my head for ages until I told her story!

Who do you think the book will appeal to?
I think – I hope – the book will appeal to everyone who enjoys short stories, especially if they like stories which make them think and question – and maybe smile sometimes.

Where can people buy the book?
It’s available on all Amazon outlets. This is the link which should take readers to the Amazon page wherever they are in the world: It is also available as a paperback for the many people who still like a ‘real’ book.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was very young (a long time ago) and felt compelled to write adventure stories à la Enid Blyton. I think it would be called plagiarism today. Then, appalling teenage angst-ridden poetry on love and life, about both of which I believed I knew everything; press releases and reports at work; a first attempt at memoir of my time working in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This was in the days of posting the first three chapters and a synopsis, and it felt like my submission was on a piece of elastic. I started writing articles then, and their acceptance and publication gave me the confidence to keep going. I guess I could have answered that by saying ‘many years’.

What plans do you have for future books?
I’m working on a local history called Secret Dumfries, to be published by Amberley Publishing in 2018. I’m enjoying the research, finding stories and quirky facts about the town’s history which people may not know. And I’m working on turning the material from my blog, My Dad’s a Goldfish, into a memoir about caring for my Dad through his dementia. That sounds like a laugh a minute doesn’t it – but actually, there is a lot of humour in it as well as frustration and anger and tears.

What three pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to write and publish a book?
Read. Writers are readers first.
Believe in your story and persevere.
Beg, borrow or steal the money for a professional edit. It is impossible to see your own mistakes.

What does blogging mean to you?
I can’t imagine life without the many friends I’ve made through my own blog and through following other blogs. And they are real friends. Being part of the blogging world has led to so many wonderful connections, to support which has been phenomenal, often humbling, and always entertaining, enlightening and thought-provoking.

Thank you for joining us today, Mary. It’s so good to interview another author who has published a book of short stories.

If you have any questions or comments for Mary, then please leave them in the comments, and she will come back to you.


Mary Smith is a writer, freelance journalist and poet based in Dumfries & Galloway in south-west Scotland.

She worked in Pakistan and Afghanistan for ten years, where she established a mother and child care programme providing skills and knowledge to women health volunteers. She has written a memoir, Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women, about her work in Afghanistan and the country also provides the setting for her novel No More Mulberries.

Mary’s poems have been widely published in poetry magazines and anthologies, and her first full-length poetry collection, Thousands Pass Here Every Day, was published by Indigo Dreams.

She has worked in collaboration with photographer Allan Devlin on two local history books: Dumfries Through Time and Castle Douglas Through Time. She is now working on Secret Dumfries to be published in 2018 as well as turning her blog, My Dad’s a Goldfish, into a memoir about caring for her dad through his dementia.

Donkey Boy & Other Stories is her latest publication.

#authors #books #shortstories
Author, Writer and Blogger, Mary Smith

Connect with Mary
Buy link for Donkey Boy & Other Stories:


Blogs:  My Dad is a Goldfish

and also

and my brand new blog

Amazon Page US:

Amazon Page UK:




Other titles:

No More Mulberries (A novel set in Afghanistan):

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni (Memoir from Afghanistan):

Thousands Pass Here Every Day (poetry collection):

Dumfries Through Time (local history):

Castle Douglas Through Time (local history):

© 2018 Copyright-All rights

Click here to check out my ‘Interviews With Authors’ page on Flipboard.

 Don’t forget to buy your ticket for The Bloggers Bash on May 19th, 2018. Click here for full details.


Author: Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar to learn more about me and my blog.

49 thoughts

  1. Pingback: Donkeys
  2. Pingback: Donkeys -
    1. Happy New Year, Marje. Glad you enjoyed the interview. I’ve not bought my BB ticket yet. I’m going to Canada and will only return a few days before the BB – not sure if I can afford it or if I can afford to risk the cat’s fury at being abandonned again so soon. On the other hand I hate the thought of missing out on the BB.

  3. Thanks, Hugh. It’s great to see Mary here. I’ve read some wonderful reviews of her stories and also her blog. And she’s a great guest too. Good luck!

  4. It is lovely to see this interview with Mary. She is such a talented writer. Although her style is entirely dissimilar, her power and facility with words puts me in mind of Peter Ackroyd- where descriptions of emotional states can ricochet through you like a gunshot whipping up all sorts of buried emotional memories from the past and literally leave you shaken. Her ‘The Donkey boy and Other Stories’ was beautiful, and totally compulsive reading. She brings people to life with such ease and makes them entirely relate-able by focusing on the commonality and sometimes even the common venality of our humanity (those petty thoughts and actions that define our place within the society we live). No mean feat when, as Margaret Elphinstone put it, these characters are disinherited by mainstream cultures- somewhere we probably believe we would feel most comfortable belonging. A thoroughly enjoyable interview with a remarkable and unique voice shaped by natural gifts, technical skills and extraordinary experiences.

    1. Paul, thank you so much for this. I’m so pleased you enjoyed Donkey Boy & Other Stories and the interview with Hugh. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comments.

  5. Hi Hugh. Happy New Year.
    The WordPress imps are bedeviling me no end… I know I commented on this delightful interview with Mary… Trying again… I enjoyed it enormously. Best to Mary and I look forward to hearing more about “Secret Dumfries”. Hugs all around!

    1. Sorry to hear the WordPress gremlins are already out this New Year, Teagan. I hope they soon move on. Thanks so much for leaving a comment on Mary’s interview. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mary in person. She’s a wonderful lady who I enjoyed talking to very much.

    2. Thanks for your lovely comments, Teagan. Sorry about the WordPress gremlins. They got me a few weeks ago and none of my comments appeared on anyone’s blogs. I think WP had decided I was a spammer. I’ll be shouting out about Secret Dumfries before long! 🙂

  6. Thank you so much, Hugh. I’ve re-blogged this on MarySmith’sPlace – my first re-blog on the new blog! Not sure if it’s quite right as it only shows my comment and nothing of the original blog post.

    1. Hi Mary. It’s all working fine. As a new follower of your new blog, I got your email notification that you had reblogged the post. All I had to do was click on the title of the post within the email, and it took me straight to your reblog. 😀

Leave a Reply to paulandruss Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.