I’ve been challenged by fabulous friend, and author, Sheryl Browne, to join in the Lovely Blog Hop to share some of the things that have helped shape my writing and my life.
You can find links at the end of the post to other writers who are friends and a constant inspiration! Sheryl’s next book, The Rest of My Life, is coming soon – from Choc Lit and I’ve read ALL of her books so far, so I know this is going to be something VERY special!
So now I spill the beans …
First Fond Memory
My very first memories were all rather obscure and that puzzled me for many years. Later memories were mostly about family members, or highlights – Christmas etc. But the very earliest ones all seemed to be linked to nightmares I had as a child and I assumed that was why those were the ones that stayed with me. However, much later in life – when I realised that many of the ‘odd’ things that had happened to me were psychic experiences, it all began to make sense.
So it didn’t start out as a fond memory, but as I realised the upside of feeling a presence around me – certainly after my father and then, my mother, passed away – it is something I look back on, gratefully. I vividly remember numerous occasions when I lay in bed, looking up at the ceiling and seeing something hovering around me. Now I believe it might have been my late grandmother. At the time, I simply remember screaming a lot and my mother would be in and out of the room, comforting me. When I didn’t settle she ended up leaving the light on and I think that became common practice in the end.
Books and Libraries (I’m combining these as for me the two became inseparable)
As a child Enid Blyton was a firm favourite. I was soon reading way ahead of my years because I was an obsessive reader who devoured books. At around the age of eleven I was allowed to go to the local libraries alone; there were two within walking distance. It was like discovering a treasure trove.
What I found was that I could borrow almost any book at all, as long as I also took out a suitable children’s book. too. My father was an avid reader and a frequent visitor, so I think they assumed the books were for him, as in those days you were issued with tickets. I’d take mine (I think I had four, but adults could have eight) and would also take along some of Dad’s. I quickly discovered historical romances and fell in love with the Sergeanne Golon books – the Angelique series – written by Anne Golon. Then, I discovered Ian Fleming and James Bond – romance, adventure, intrigue! I also loved Wilkie Collins (The Woman in White, in particular) and Thomas Hardy – I loved the Mayor of Casterbridge. Then Jane Austin (swoon) and Ken Follett … Discovering Stephen King gave me a few nightmares, I will admit!
After I married, Freya North, Judy Astley, Sophie Kinsella, Anna Barrie and Trisha Ashley were often reasons I burnt the tea, while trying to read AND cook.
What’s your passion?
I think, in common with many authors I know, I have always been passionate about writing – short stories, poetry, and when I was a young teen, episodes for some of my favourite TV shows. Then getting married, having two sons and getting back into full-time employment meant I didn’t have time to write. So I had to find a creative ‘hobby’ to fit into a busy lifestyle. Interior design was perfect, but meant we had to kept changing houses so I could have new challenges! Eventually, I was fortunate enough to make a career change to turn that hobby into a full-time job. However, three years later my mother was unwell and I decided time with her was more precious. Unfortunately she died, unexpectedly, just three months later. That’s when my husband convinced me it was time for ‘me’ and I began writing. I wrote five manuscripts straight off in eighteen months. So writing is my real passion, but I always knew I’d have to wait, because once I’d opened the flood gates there would be no turning back. But my second passion will always be interior design – and after fourteen house moves, hopefully our current renovation project is the final one!
I did an intense one-year A-level course in commerce and accounting at school; they found me my first job at the age of sixteen, as a secretary. I met my husband around the same time. My sights were firmly set on teaching ballroom dancing, as I had already been a teaching assistant for a couple of years. I also had a partner and we were taking very expensive lessons, paid for by my parents, to ready us for competitions. In particular Latin American and the pasa doble was my favourite, then the waltz and the foxtrot. Within six weeks of meeting my husband we were saving to get married and just a month or two later I gave up my dancing life.
Once the boys were at school I studied Business Management at Technical College and later joined the civil service. There I did a Property Management HND and had a twenty-year career in Planning and Budgeting. When I was offered a job to design interiors for show homes, it was time for a change. What I didn’t know was that just three years later I would be giving up work altogether to (at last) find time to write.
You will probably notice that there is no reference to writing courses in the above. I kept a journal of ideas for stories – ready for the day when I would sit down and write. I thought that would be when I retired. Five years before I began writing in 2009, I sat down to write my first manuscript. Just to check I was actually capable of writing anything other than the short stories I played around with as a teenager. It turned out to be 135,000 in length and took me three months to write. Every evening after dinner was over I would sit and type until bedtime. Unfortunately, a massive water leak flooded our computer and I had no back-up in those days. The hard drive was on the way to a computer guy who was going to rescue all my information, when it was stolen. It was later found, badly damaged – they had only stolen the back-pack it was in for money and credit cards.
It was invaluable, though, as an exercise, because I learnt such a lot about the writing process: how to construct, monitor, and develop a storyline. I’m still learning and that’s a part of the thrill of writing. At the end of the day, I simply write from the heart. My style requires showing, as well as telling, because my characters reveal their deepest feelings and emotions to the reader; things that they would never voice out aloud, even to loved ones. Hopefully, my editors ensure that I get the balance right, because at the end of the day it’s about drawing the reader into the story. It’s the equivalent of 3D TV, really – you get to see both his and her points of view, and then you see what their hearts are telling them!
I’m thrilled to share some of the fabulous author friends who constantly keep me laughing, applauding their talent, and entertained when their books hit Amazon!
Georgia Hill http://www.georgiahill.co.uk/
Audrina Lane http://www.audrinalane.co.uk/
Katie Mettner http://katiemettnerbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/katies-lovely-blog-hop.html
Julie Ryan http://www.allthingsbookie.com/
Darlene Jones http://www.emandyves.com/
Thank you so much for joining me today – have a great one!