Your Biography & Memory Book
I’m passionate about telling people’s stories. Would you like me to help tell yours?
My new, most treasured possession - Paul Totterdell.
All the novels I’ve written are inspired by real people and many are about family history, one way or another. Two of them, ‘Pale as the Dead’ and ‘Bloodline’ are genealogical mysteries, featuring Ancestor Detective, Natasha Blake. I’ve also written shorter case studies about farmers for Cotswold Seeds, and travelogues for the Azure Collection. I love it! I am inherently curious, (or nosy!) and I love chatting to ordinary people, who are all extraordinary, about their lives and experiences.
It’s a lifelong regret that I never captured the stories of my own parents and grandparents. My dad died when I was a child and I’d bought my mum a notebook to start writing down her memories just months before she passed away, having written a tantalising page or two.
I happened to mention to my friend and colleague, Paul, that I’ve always thought it would be lovely thing to write people’s biographies for them and Paul immediately asked me if I’d write his father, Bernie’s life story. Bernie was reluctant, having never really talked about his life before Paul was born, which was of course the very reason Paul wanted to know more. Bernie was also concerned that he’d have nothing particularly interesting to say.
We started gently, chatting over cups of tea. I transcribed the interviews, gave them a shape, added in some photos that Bernie dug out of his archives. Bernie made some edits, added in missing info, rearranged events according to date. We chatted again. By the end, Bernie was writing new passages and I think, hope, found the whole experience both pleasurable and cathartic.
Googling for a way to turn the words and pictures into a proper physical book, I found Memory Books. They’re a wonderful lockdown start-up and we immediately hit it off. I enjoyed creating Bernie’s book for him. Luckily, it was all done just in time for Paul’s birthday.
I’ve now teamed up with Memory Books to help people tell their stories and create lasting documents. This can be your life story, family history, the history of your house, business or anything else. Unlike with larger companies that offer to ghostwrite, you know exactly who your biographer will be. I trained with the BBC, where I spent ten years working in the press office. As well as writing award-winning novels I’ve written for publications including the The Times and Mail on Sunday and I’ve also written copy for organisations including St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bishops Palace, Landmark Trust, Superdrug, the Azure Collection and FarmED.
I’d love to be your personal biographer.
Because there’s just me, the whole process is very flexible, relaxed, informal and affordable.
'Finding Something’ - My new, most treasured possession.
At some point in our lives we will all lose someone precious to us, and a few years ago, sat in a chapel during a family funeral, I began to panic. I’d realised that despite how close I was to my father and best friend Bernie, I knew worryingly little about his history and the journey that he took in life prior to my birth, it’s just not something we ever really discussed because he struggled to share it. At some point he would be gone too, along with his memories and life lessons. I’d only be left with my sketchy recollections of conversations and disjointed anecdotes, which are typically less than reliable! The prospect of losing him and his precious memories, without truly understanding his life story was a real and distinct source of worry for me, a concern which grew considerably over time.
This is when the wonderful Fiona Mountain, a work colleague who is also a novelist (among many other talents!) mentioned to me in random conversation that she loved listening to and recording the life stories of older generations. This was what I’d subconsciously been waiting for. A neutral third party who could put Dad at ease, enough to open up. Soon I had introduced Fiona to Bernie, and over the coming months she lovingly and sympathetically chatted with him over several meetings, and created an exhaustive, concise and heartwarming account of his life, which I now hold in my hands and has become a most treasured possession. I am so happy I now have this brilliant book, I now know so many things I would never have otherwise known, something Bernie is also very proud of, peace of mind for us both. Thank you so much Fiona, it’s priceless - Paul Totterdell
'Finding Something' - This is the title of my earlier years biography. My wonderful Son is now 38, he came to my wife and l late in our lives. When he was in his twenties and for some years onward he asked me that he would like to know more of my past history, if you will, my brief encounter with this world to him was unknown until he was old enough to remember the pathway I took. I found this difficult to deal with until I was introduced to this wonderful author, Fiona Mountain, by my son. Her incredible ability to listen intently, compassionately, and with enormous understanding, was phenomenal. Putting me at ease so I could at last offer the words for her to write my biography of my early life. I can only recommend to anyone who wishes to have their life story portrayed, laid out, and explained in the most incredible and sympathetic way, to use Fiona Mountain's prowess. I am forever grateful to the lovely Fiona Mountain - Bernie Totterdell
A standard package priced at £1200 will include:
48 page hardcover Memory Book - two copies.
Including up to 15,000 words and 50 photographs.
5 hours of interviews
I can easily offer bespoke packages depending on what you are looking for, so please do get in touch if you’d like to talk through other ideas.