In the back of my mind, I think I’ve always known that I would be a writer one day, having loved writing essays at school, letters to friends, answering exam questions, but that’s exactly where it stayed for many years – in the back of my mind.
After university, not wanting to practise Law – my first degree subject – I went to California, and stayed there for several years, living first in San Francisco and later in Los Angeles. While there, I met a wide variety of interesting people whom I felt would be great in a novel, but making new friends and having a brilliant time, going to fascinating places and doing a wide variety of jobs, was not conducive to settling down to write a novel, and my career as an author was still very much in the future.
On my return to England, I studied for an English degree and then started teaching at a secondary school. Not long after that, I met the man who became my husband.
Teaching a subject that made huge demands in terms of preparation and marking, and with two lively sons a year apart in age, and a husband with a demanding job, it meant that although I loved writing, I couldn’t begin to think about writing a novel. Instead, I contented myself by writing voluminous letters. Looking back, I feel quite sorry for my friends, receiving such lengthy tomes from me in the middle of their busy days!
After a few years in Berkshire, my husband’s work took us up to Cheshire, where I taught in a school in Widnes. For six of my years in the north west, I contributed weekly to the local newspapers on educational matters. My creative writing life, however, had to wait until my sons had completed university, we’d moved back south and I’d switched to supply teaching. When that day finally came, I started writing a novel.
My first novel to be published, THE ROAD BACK (Choc Lit), came out in September, 2012. Much of the novel is set in Ladakh, a province north of the Himalayas and west of Tibet. It was inspired by an album of words and photos compiled by my uncle after his visit to Ladakh in the mid 1940s. I’ll never forget the bolt of excitement I felt as I read through the album and knew that this was a location in which I must set a novel.
Since then, five more of my novels have been published by Choc Lit: A BARGAIN STRUCK (Wyoming, 1887), THE LOST GIRL Wyoming, 1870s and 1880s) and EVIE UNDERCOVER (contemporary, set in Umbria) are in paperback as well as in digital. A WESTERN HEART, an ebook novella set in Wyoming, 1880, is digital only, as is THE ART OF DECEPTION, a contemporary novel set on Umbria. THE ART OF DECEPTION, published first in paper form by DC Thomson, and later in large print by Linford Romance, is available in libraries under the title of A DANGEROUS HEART.
I also have a short story in each of the two Choc Lit anthologies: ANGEL CAKE (CHOC LIT LOVE MATCH) and CUPCAKE (KISSES & CUPCAKES).
Not surprisingly, my novels, long and short, reflect my interests. I love travel and have travelled extensively in Europe, particularly in France and Italy, and in the US, and recently I went on my first visit to Australia. I’m also a theatre buff, and one of the many joys of living in Oxfordshire is that I can reach the London theatres in just over an hour. The Oxford theatres are even closer, and Stratford-upon-Avon is within easy reach, too. I’m also very keen on the cinema, and am a Friend of the Picturehouse Cinema, Henley.
And, naturally, I love reading. I’m an avid reader and always have been, having started to read Shakespeare with my ex-actress mother when I was eight, and having worked my way through the novels of Charles Dickens, Mickey Spillane, Jane Austen and a host of other authors by the time I reached my late teens.
Although writing now takes up a great deal of my time – and I wouldn’t have it any other way – I still read a wide range of literature. The thing I look for in a book above all is the story. You cannot beat a good story with strong, realistic characters.
Finally, I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, a must-join for everyone who aspires to be published and for everyone who is already published. Writing is a solitary profession, but you are never alone if you’re part a vibrant community like the RNA, which offers opportunities galore to make writing friends, and to meet and support other writers, both online and in person.
I belong also to The Historical Novel Society, which is dedicated solely to authors and readers of historical novels, and I’m a member of the Oxford Writers’ Group, and a contributor to their fourth and fifth anthologies of short stories with an Oxford background. THE MIDNIGHT PRESS, their fourth anthology, was published a couple of years ago, and a fifth anthology is on the way. My short story in the fourth anthology tells of Matilda’s escape from Oxford Castle in 1141, and in the fifth anthology, I’ve woven a story around The Rollright Stones. In addition to these, I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA).
Well, I think that’s about it. Over and out!