Beckenham author tackling bullying and mid-life problems talks about her new audiobook

PUBLISHED: 12:40 01 December 2016 | UPDATED: 12:40 01 December 2016

Linda MacDonald, author of Meeting Lydia

Linda MacDonald, author of Meeting Lydia


Linda MacDonald’s first book was published in 2011 and an audio version has now been released

A Beckenham author whose work tackles bullying and mid-life problems has spoken of her excitement at having an audiobook published – and why so many women can relate to her characters.

Linda MacDonald’s debut novel, Meeting Lydia, was published in 2011 and explores the powerful effects of school bullying and internet relationships.

It has now been turned into an audiobook narrated by voice actress Harriet Carmichael, and Ms MacDonald hopes the new format will enable her to reach a wider audience.

She told the Bromley Times: “I am really excited that it has been turned into an audio book. It is a chance to get a different audience.

“When you are an independent author it is extremely difficult to get noticed.”

Meeting Lydia’s central character, Marianne, suffers a mid-life crisis when she comes home from work and finds her husband talking to a glamorous woman in the kitchen.

Insecurities begin to resurface from a time when she was bullied at school, and her marriage starts to break down. She logs on to the internet and finds herself trying to track down her school crush.

The novel is based partly on Ms MacDonald’s experiences as a youngster and partly on events she witnessed during her career as a teacher.

“I think mid life is a time when women feel insecure. It is a taboo subject and a lot of men are embarrassed by it,” she said.

“With so much attention on what women look like and the whole ‘stay young’ thing, the menopause is a time when women can start to have doubts.

“That is what happens to Marianne. She has been happily married for 20-odd years, but she is in her mid-40s and seeing this younger woman makes her panic because she was bullied at school.

“A lot of people say they can relate to that but not in a major way; it is about the day-to-day name calling that can really cause a shattering of self-esteem.”

Like Marianne, Ms MacDonald attended a boys’ prep school, and when she was nine she was the only girl in her class for a whole year.

“I was teased and bullied and it was a very hard time, and I did bottle it up,” she explained.

“I was happy as a teenager, and it was only when I was in mid-life that I thought it was having an effect still, and I wanted to do something about it but didn’t know how.

“Being a teacher I was always very much aware of bullying, but children do not want to tell their teachers. I had to be alert so if I saw something happening I could intervene, but if you followed it up children would clam up.

“Online bullying seems to be even more soul-destroying,” she added. “At least at school you could go home and shut your door.

“Raising the idea and getting it talked about is a good thing.”

Originally from the town of Cockermouth in Cumbria, Ms MacDonald moved to London as a teenager to study Psychology at Goldsmiths University.

She has lived in Beckenham since 1985 and taught in several schools in south London, including St Mary’s High School in Croydon and Christ the King College in Lewisham.

Citing Fay Weldon and David Lodge as major influences on her work, she strives to give her novels a psychological depth that is lacking from some contemporary fiction.

“I try to make my books a bit deeper than so-called ‘Hen Lit’”, she said. “My books are not fluffy – most people learn things they did not know beforehand. They cover psychology in a bit more depth.”

Meeting Lydia, narrated by Harriet Carmichael, is published by Essential Music and is available now.

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