In my last blog post of each month, I interview an author friend on a fun topic that’s currently caught my imagination.
At the moment my topic is anecdotes about their Mini cars, in honour of the magical Mini that features in my recent novella Mrs Morris Changes Lanes. This month’s guest is Alison Morton, author of Anglo-French thrillers and the Roma Nova historical novels.
Regular readers will remember Alison’s previous interview here last year about Roma Nova, the alternative post-empire Roman nation in her historical novels.
I imagine the heroine of Alison’s new series of Anglo-French contemporary thrillers, Melisande des Pittones might be comfortable in the driving seat of a modern Mini, especially if it was a souped-up version!
Hello, Alison, and welcome back to my blog. I think you’ve owned more Minis than anyone I know!
Yes, I’ve owned seven Minis – four originals, one ‘supermini’ and two new BMW ones. My first was Little Grey Min in 69 when I learnt to drive and my second (new!) was a purple Mini.
How much did it cost and how much did you sell it for?
Little Grey Min cost my mother £350. It was a beautiful car that had had ‘one careful lady owner’ for two years. The family friend who owned the dealership had sold it to her originally and knew the car.
Purple Min was brand new and cost £995! I bought it when I started work in the City of London. Yes, it was s possible to drive and park a car in London in the 1970s.
How long did you keep them and why did you sell them?
This is all a bit fuzzy, but when I wanted to upgrade. People did in those days, usually every two years. I had a red Mini Cooper at one stage and then ended up with a yellow ochre 1275 GT. That could really move. It had what we called ‘wellie.’ I think it was quite expensive, even though I bought it second hand.
I replaced the 1275 GT with a new red MG Metro – a ‘supermini’. That was a lovely car with a lot of flashy bits and pieces (It was sold as a sports model; 0–60 mph in 10.9 seconds, top speed 103 mph) but very comfortable.
Then I got married and a year later, all the paraphernalia of baby equipment became a challenge… There was an interlude with sensible cars such as Maestros, Allegros and Rovers.
Then BMW revived the Mini brand. Not the same, but lots of nostalgic features.
Yes, I queued up with all the other baby boomers with a printout from the online design tool on the first day that ordering opened in the local dealership.
My first new one in March 2002 was British Racing Green with a white roof (swoons at the memory), then a few years later a dark metallic blue one again with a white roof.
Please describe it in as much detail as you can remember.
Little Grey Min had dark red seats, sliding windows that stuck in the damp, a cable hanging in the door to open it and a floor button starter. It was my beloved first car, but it did need watching for rust.
The BMW Minis were at the other end of the scale, as the photo shows!
Many Mini drivers seemed to feel compelled to name their Minis, as if they have a personality of their own. Do they have a personality of their own? What was yours called?
They ALL had personalities, but I unimaginatively called them by colour plus Min.
What is it about Minis that makes most owners feel so attached to them?
They are cute, cuddly, easy to park, cheekily different and FUN. Also quite trendy…
What did you most love about your Mini? What drove you nuts about it?
Where did your longest journey in your Mini take you?
Little Grey Min went with me to Leeds then France and Germany and finally back to Leeds when I was a student. Purple Min went to the South of France with a couple of friends. The others went on several trips to the north of England.
What was your most exciting trip?
After I passed my driving test in Little Grey Min in 1970, I collected my mother from the test centre where she’d been waiting and dropped her off home. Then I had to drive back to school through the middle of Tunbridge Wells at lunchtime BY MYSELF!
What most surprised you about your Mini?
That I was allowed to have such a wonderful car!
Did you ever have any accidents or any scary trips in your Mini?
Winter in Germany in minus 20C was ‘interesting’. Poor Little Grey Min had to wear snow chains for a few weeks. Boy, did they clank!
Accidents? Some fool bashed into the back of Little Grey Min when I was waiting at a roundabout. He was drunk. I had terrible whiplash later, but at the time, I jumped out of the car, stared at the huge dent in the boot door and burst into tears. Then I swore at the drunk driver, but his car was a worse mess.
Who was your favourite/most interesting/most difficult passenger and why?
The test examiner. No further explanation needed.
What car do you drive now?
I am a Mini person through and through, and I’d buy an electric Mini tomorrow, but it would be a vanity at 35,000€.
I share a VW Touran with my husband. We really don’t need a car each now we both work from home. But it’s very big (and a little bit dull…)
What do you miss about your Mini?
The fun, the cheekiness of it. The French have a lovely word for it – espièglerie.
In Mrs Morris Changes Lanes, what did you think of Mrs Morris’s Mini and of her adventure?
Ha! Minis always open up opportunities and alternatives. The adventure was before you and, of course, you had the wonderful Mini on your side. Go, Mrs Morris!
All About Alison Morton
Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough but compassionate heroines. Her nine-book Roma Nova series is set in an imaginary European country where a remnant of the ancient Roman Empire has survived into the twenty-first century and is ruled by women who face conspiracy, revolution and heartache but with a sharp line in dialogue.
She blends her deep love of France with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history. Alison now lives in Poitou in France, the home of the heroine of her latest two novels, Double Identity and Double Pursuit. Oh, and she’s writing the next Roma Nova story.
Connect with Alison:
On her thriller site: https://alison-morton.com
On her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonMortonAuthor
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/alison_morton @alison_morton
Read Alison’s latest thriller, Double Pursuit, the sequel to Double Identity.
One dead body, two badly injured operatives and five crates of hijacked rifles.
In Rome, former French special forces intelligence analyst Mélisende des Pittones is frustrated by obnoxious local cops and ruthless thugs. Despite the backing of the powerful European Investigation and Regulation Service, her case is going nowhere. Then an unknown woman tries to blow her head off.
As Mel and fellow investigator Jeff McCracken attempt to get a grip on the criminal network as well as on their own unpredictable relationship, all roads point to the place she dreads – the arid and remote African Sahel – where she was once betrayed and nearly died. Can Mel conquer her fear as she races to smash the network and save her colleague’s life?
Buying link for ebook: https://books2read.com/DoublePursuit
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