My love of stories developed at a very early age. When I was a tiny child in my pushchair a passer by noticed I was holding an open book. “It’s amazing to see your little girl reading aloud,” she said to my mother, who promptly explained I had memorised the story.
My love of books grew. An early memory is of having my photo taken at the age of about three, when the photographer handed me a book to hold. Even now, I remember my indignation when he took it away at the end of the session.
Another clear memory is of sitting on my maternal grandfather’s knee while he read to me from Enid Blyton’s children’s magazine Sunny Stories.
When did I first begin to make up proper stories with a beginning, middle and an end? I am not sure. However, there was a point at which I found it difficult to distinguish between imagination and truth. Certainly I embroidered incidents or made up events when I attended nursery school.
I don’t know whether my imagination was a blessing or a curse. At primary school I soaked up English language and literature, history, geography and religious instruction. During mathematics, I retreated into my own world peopled by characters real and legendary from the past, and imaginary characters of my own creation. By the time I went to a girls’ grammar school I made no effort to come to grips with mathematics, physics, chemistry or biology, and I loathed gymnastics and hockey.
During my years at primary and secondary school, my appetite for fiction and poetry grew. I spent every spare minute reading. And, for example, Anne of Green Gables and later the heroines in Georgette Heyer’s novels seemed more real to me than my own humdrum life. Why wasn’t I born on beautiful Prince Edward’s island or in the privileged world of Regency ladies?
I can’t remember when I first wrote down my own stories, but have never forgotten a painful incident. I wanted to write something so I asked my mother for some paper. She said she didn’t have any. I begged for her Basildon Bond paper reserved for her letters. Mother refused to give me even a sheet or two. I can still recall my anger and frustration at being denied paper. Now, a new notebook represents a tale about to unfold. There is nothing comparable to penning the first few lines on pristine paper. In March I went on holiday to
Devonshire. Inspired by the primroses in the hedgerows, the daffodils and golden gorse flowers, as well as the rolling countryside, the glorious beaches and seascapes, I bought a notebook and wrote the plot, theme and first lines of a new novel.
I married and had my first child not long after I left secondary school. By the age of twenty-one, while living in
, I had written my first historical novel, which was accepted by a famous publishing house. I received a contract and a generous advance. Unfortunately, I did not know that a firm date of publication should always be included in the contract. The publishing house was sold; the new commissioning editor did not like my novel, which was not published. Undeterred, I finished my second novel, which was accepted, but due to peculiar circumstances never published. Kenya
For years I did no more than jot down ideas until, after twenty-one years in
Kenya and five years in France, I returned to . Eventually, after each of our five children had left home, my late husband encouraged me to write. I immersed myself in books on How to Write, attended some courses on writing and bought a computer. After I wrote eight novels and countless short stories I was accepted by two literary agents, one for novels, the other for short stories, but neither of them placed my work. England
I submitted each of my novels to other agents and publishers, some of whom were kind enough to praise them, although they rejected them. I joined online critique groups, and received constructive feedback about my work in return for critiquing other members’ submissions. Through one of these groups, I came into contact with Enspiren Press, an electronic and print on demand publisher. Enspiren Press accepted my novel Tangled Hearts. Delighted, I wrote a new novel. Fate was against me. Enspiren Press closed and I did not receive a penny of the royalties due to me.
Several years later, after innumerable rejections from more publishers and agents, undeterred, but with many misgivings, I submitted to MuseItUp Publishing an electronic publisher. Tangled Hearts, set in
in Queen Anne’s reign, 1702 – 1714, was accepted and republished as Tangled Love. Since then, MuseItUp has also accepted my novels, Sunday’s Child, to be published in June, and False Pretences, to be published in October, both of which are set in the Regency era. England
I set my novels in a period of change. When Queen Anne came to the throne, her father James II was alive and living in
. Some of the peers refused to swear an oath of allegiance to her while her father lived, because they were bound to him, even if they did not like the man, his politics or his religion. What, I asked myself, would be the effect on Richelda, the daughter of a nobleman who refused to take the oath and followed James to France . In Tangled Love Richelda, suffers loss, hardship and danger before she can keep her promise to her father to regain their family’s estate. France
In Sunday’s Child, prior to the Battle of Waterloo, Georgianne and Major Tarrant have suffered as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, and have to come to terms with their nightmares.
And in False Pretences, Annabelle yearns to discover who her parents are, yet nothing in her life is as it seems and the truth, when it is finally revealed, is extraordinary.
As for my new novel, Tangled Lives, also set in Queen Anne’s reign, Juliana refuses to believe her half-brother’s accusation that she and her sister, Henrietta, are bastards. On the way to
London to consult her late father’s lawyer, she encounters Mister Seymour, who has recently returned from . India
Many people are unable to fulfil their lifelong dreams, so I am grateful to God for allowing me to fulfil my dream of becoming a published novelist.
If you visit my website you can read the prologue of Tangled Love, see the beautiful book cover and watch the book trailer. You can also read the first chapter of Sunday’s Child and see the gorgeous book cover.
Tangled Love set in England in 1706. The tale of two great estates and their owners.
Available from.MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon Kindle, Bookstrand - Mainstream, Sony-e-Reader, Kobo, Smashwords.
Sunday's Child June 2012
False Pretences October 2012
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