A Lover of Books

Archive for the day “May 22, 2014”

Interview with Sue Hayman


Sue Hayman’s debut book ‘Star: The Story of One Duck’s Rise to Fame’ has just been released today.


This true story follows the life of an Indian Runner duck called Star, who decided from the beginning that he preferred humans to ducks.

Although happily married to someone half his age, Barrie was struggling to enjoy life. He was now officially retired and was sinking into a depression, missing his adventures as an actor and scuba instructor, along with suffering from poor health. An immediate and unusual bond of kindred spirits developed when Star came into his life. Recognising Star was different, the two of them embarked on an incredible journey. They became inseparable and went everywhere together, becoming celebrities with an international following. Wanting to make the best use of the celebrity status, Barrie and Star dedicated themselves to the Children’s Hospice South West. Not only did they go and visit the poorly children, they also went out busking on the street, raising thousands of pounds for the charity. We see how they honed their double act, entertaining and warming the hearts of all those who met them.

Told by Star’s mum, this is a funny and heart-warming tale of one man and his duck, but with the darker side of every day life threatening to stop them both in their tracks.


Sue Hayman was interested in being interviewed for my blog.   You can read all about Star below:-

Tell me the story behind this book.

This is a true story about my husband and his relationship with a duck called Star. We had raised and bred a menagerie of animals including ducks, geese and chickens and with this purchased some incubators. When Star hatched it was obvious to Barrie that this duckling was very different to the other ducklings that hatched. As a performer and actor himself, Barrie recognised this in Star, especially when he took photos of Star only a few hours old seemingly dancing and performing in front of the camera.  From then on an unusual friendship of kindred spirits formed and they became inseparable going everywhere together.  The events that then followed over the space of a couple of years were incredible and full of extreme highs and lows. Barrie and Star put their head above the parapet and with that came several blows from the most unexpected corners of society.

I have never aspired to be an author and in truth, never thought I ever would be. However, when Barrie and Star were approached in the street last year by a children’s author and illustrator who asked if they could produce an illustrated children’s book based on Star, we both jumped at the chance. Following several conversations with her, I then started putting bullet points together of things that had taken place. However, those bullet points became longer and longer and I realised that something was happening and the story then started forming. I realised that actually there was a real story to be told, and in actual fact needed to be told.

How long did it take you to write it?

I work full time so I found I was writing long hand in my lunch breaks (sitting in the car) and then transferring the written word to my laptop at weekends.  In all, it took about 2 months to write.

Are there plans for any more books about Star?

I finished writing this story last summer. As the story is true and although the book stops then, life has continued, and there has been plenty that has happened since then so I am sure there is a whole lot more to come.  Therefore I would suggest that there is at least one more book to be written.  What will be in it? I am really not sure as the book is still playing out as I am writing to you today!

How old is Star?

Star will be 3 next month.

How is Star coping with all this fame?

Our duck is Star by name and a Star by nature! He is actually a real diva duck and therefore absolutely loves all the attention. He is a true performer and loves being with people and has proved to be a natural in front of the camera.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Once upon a time I would have said that I loved spending time with my animals, walking the dog, reading… A relatively quiet life really. However, the last few months my life has pretty much been working full time and then fully immersed in the book. I had no idea how many times I would need and want to tweak the book through editing, all the background stuff that goes into publishing. The book has taken over my life at the moment. I guess it has also been a real emotional roller coaster. As the book is true and, as I said, it goes through some real highs and lows, each and every time I have re-read the book to proof read it through this change or that, I have re-lived almost every moment of it.  I have also learned something about myself – I am actually quite a perfectionist and have been my own toughest critic on the contents of the book!

Describe a day in your life.

Well, as I say, these last few months to the outside world would seem to be have been relatively boring but for me very exciting. My day job takes a lot of time and energy and then I come home and I am then in front of my laptop for several hours. This would invariably be doing something involving the book. I also am the main organiser for Barrie and Star – Barrie is a brilliant performer, but he is hopeless at organising himself so I ensure that he is where he should be at the right time! And that goes for Star too – they are two peas in a pod!  So my time is work, book, Barrie and Star, along with looking after our 2 lovely dogs – Drake and Meggie.



About The Author 

Born and raised in Chatham, Kent, Sue then went to university in London where she completed a degree in Leisure Management, including a gap year spent working in the Canadian Rockies. After working in London for a few years, she went backpacking in New Zealand and Australia. It was during her time working in Melbourne she met her husband Barrie and they returned to the UK together. After a few years living in Kent, they eventually moved and settled in Devon where they have lived for 10 years. Sue and Barrie don’t have children together, choosing animals instead. They currently have 2 dogs, Drake and Meggie, and their famous duck, Star.

The writing of Star: The Story of One Duck’s Rise to Fame was a real surprise to Sue, who up until that point, had never thought of becoming an author. However, the incredible events taking place with Barrie and Star gave plenty of content where a story was just asking to be told.



The book is available now to download as an E-Book with the paperback coming out early to mid June:

Amazon US http://amzn.com/B00KFQ1B1G

Amazon UK  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00KFQ1B1G

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22236327-star-the-story-of-one-duck-s-rise-to-fame

Twitter: @suehayman3

Facebook Pages:-

Save Barrie & Star page: https://www.facebook.com/SaveStarBarrieHayman?ref=hl

Star Hayman page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Star-Hayman/329121783779427?ref=hl

Sue Hayman page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sue-Hayman/262014137313313?ref=hl

Sue Hayman profile: https://www.facebook.com/sue.hayman.73

Star the Duck page: https://www.facebook.com/startheduck

Star Hayman profile: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002792047162&fref=ts


To celebrate the publication of ‘Star’, there will be a launch party on Facebook tomorrow, Friday 23rd May from 6 p.m. (GMT) for an hour where there will be lots of fun and competitions.  Click on the link below to go there:-


‘The Italian Chapel’ by Philip Paris + Competition

The Italian Chapel

I was kindly given ‘The Italian Chapel’ to read by Black and White Publishing.  Originally published in 2009, it was recently republished on the 6th March 2014.  Although fictional, this book is based on a true story.  Philip Paris has also written ‘Orkney’s Italian Chapel’, which is non-fiction.

In January 1942 over 500 Italian prisoners of war arrived on the Orkney island of Lamb Holm.  They were given the enormous task of building several causeways in order to protect the British Navy.  To the men it felt like a life without much hope.  They just wanted the war to end quickly so that they could go back to their families.

Then one day things started to change.  Padre Giacomo arrived bringing with him some much needed hope for the future of the men, but especially for Domenico Chiocchetti who was a talented artist.  Domenico had come up with the wonderful idea of building a chapel.  In order to fulfil his dream he needed to convince the British to allow him to build it and this is where Padre Giacomo was a great help to him.  No one knew the full extent of Domenico’s vision and they were left in awe at his creation.  The building of the chapel brought many of the men together as they all wanted to help.

I thought this book was absolutely amazing, a truly fascinating story which has been well researched by the author.  It is a part of history which everyone should know about.  I really felt for the prisoners of war.  Yes, they were treated very well in comparison to others but they were stuck there away from their loved ones, not knowing when or if they would ever see them again.

‘The Italian Chapel’ is a beautiful but heart-breaking love story and I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone.  It will stay with me for a long time to come and I really hope to visit the Italian Chapel one day.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


Two very lucky people have the chance to win a copy of ‘The Italian Chapel’.   To enter just tell me why you want to read this book.


Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 8th June 2014.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to Black and White Publishing who will send out the prizes.


Good Luck! 🙂

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