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 – the subject of my first degree – 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 with a vast amount of preparation and marking, and with two lively sons a year apart in age, and a husband with a demanding job, meant that I couldn’t begin to think about writing a novel. Instead, I wrote voluminous letters. Looking back, I feel quite sorry for my friends, receiving my lengthy tomes 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 local newspapers on educational matters. My creative writing life had to wait until my sons had completed university, and we’d moved back south. 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. 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 would be a wonderful location in which to set a novel.
Since then, five more of my novels have been published by Choc Lit: A BARGAIN STRUCK (set in Wyoming, 1887), THE LOST GIRL (set in Wyoming, 1870s/1880s), and EVIE UNDERCOVER and THE ART OF DECEPTION (both contemporary, set in Umbria). All are in paperback, digital and audio. A WESTERN HEART, a novella set in Wyoming, 1880, is digital and audio. THE ART OF DECEPTION, first published 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 (in CHOC LIT LOVE MATCH) and CUPCAKE (in KISSES & CUPCAKES).
May 2020 saw the publication of THE DARK HORIZON, Book 1 of The Linford Series. Set between the wars, the novel introduces the reader to the Linford family, beneath which simmer lies, schemes and deceit. Each of the novels in the series focuses upon a different Linford, but each book is a standalone. The second in the series, THE FIRE WITHIN, will be reeased in November 2020.
Unsurprisingly, my novels reflect my interests. I love travel and have travelled extensively in Europe, particularly in France and Italy, and in the US. And in recent years, I’ve visited Australia, Canada and Vietnam. I really enjoy the theatre, and one of the many joys of living in Oxfordshire is that I’m only an hour from the London theatres. The Oxford theatres are even closer, as is Stratford-upon-Avon. I’m also very keen on the cinema and on cryptic crosswords.
And, naturally, I love reading. I’m an avid reader and always have been since I discovered the novels of Noel Streatfield and Enid Blyton, to name just two of my inspirational childhood favourites. By the time I’d reached my late teens, I’d worked my way through the novels of Charles Dickens, Mickey Spillane, Jane Austen, several of the Russian authors and a host of other authors.
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 derive great pleasure from my membership of that, too.
In addition, 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. In THE MIDNIGHT PRESS, their fourth anthology, my short story tells of Matilda’s escape from Oxford Castle in 1141. In the fifth anthology, THE RADCLIFFE LEGACY, I’ve woven a story around The Rollright Stones.
I regularly give talks to WI groups, the U3A and to book groups, and I also deliver talks and workshops at conferences and literary festivals.
Well, I think that’s about it.
Over and out!