As well as the author of A Gift Called Hope, and the Tree of Family Life trilogy, 183 Times A Year, All The Colours In Between, and Time Will Tell, I am also a published short story writer and monthly columnist and book reviewer for The Fens magazine.
I was born in Kent but have lived most of my life in a small Cambridgeshire town. I am mum and step-mum to four children, all of whom have been a constant and amusing source of inspiration for my writing!
I have a degree in English and History and my career has been varied, including working in a Women’s Refuge and for the local library service. However, storytelling through the art of writing is my true passion.
I loved reading as a child and always hoped that one day I’d see my stories in print. However, lack of opportunity, inexperience, and bad life choices all held me back to a point, but a lack of belief in myself is probably what held me back the most.
I dabbled a bit, did have a few minor publication successes with short stories and poetry but then came marriage, quickly followed by two beautiful children followed by divorce. That was my “Nodus Tollens” moment. I love this phrase, coined by John Koenig from his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows – “the realisation that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.”
Divorce was both difficult and unpleasant, and financially life became very tough. My children were very young at the time so I found myself having to take jobs that fitted in around them – school holidays were an absolute nightmare; most of the money I earned went on childcare.
So I decided I wanted something better, and with the help of my parents (who babysat for me), I went back to college during the evenings. I studied English, History, Sociology and Psychology for two years then applied to study for a BA Hons Degree in English and History. It was a full-time course over three years, which was challenging as it then meant having to find work that fitted in around work, the children and my degree.
It wasn’t easy, I still had the school run to do, dinners to cook, uniforms to wash and iron, school plays and assemblies to attend, doctors appointments, hospital appointments, parents’ evenings, swimming lessons, dance classes, piano lessons, guitar lessons, not to mention all the fancy dress costumes I had to put together for various parties and the school’s annual World Book Day.
Then, when the children were tucked up in bed, there were essays to write and exams to revise for, and somewhere in between, I had to find time to sleep. I sometimes look back at those years and wonder how the hell I did it. I definitely remember tears at times.
However, in 2009 I graduated with a BA Honours Degree in English and History and gained a first for my history dissertation, which was a study of civilian morale during the London Blitz of WWII. I felt immensely proud, as did my children and family.
By then I’d met my other half, who also had two children, and we all moved in together and became a blended family. I didn’t know it at the time, but a seed was planted and ideas for my debut novel began to form. Being part of an extended family is fun, however bringing up children, whether it’s your own or others, is not always easy.
Trying to navigate my new life as a working parent and stepparent proved to be both fraught and outrageously funny at times. Sometimes I felt like pulling my hair out. Through research, and talking with friends and colleagues, I quickly discovered that many people were enjoying but struggling with the same daily problems I was experiencing.
That’s when I started to write 183 Times A Year and the rest, as they say, is history. Holding the printed copy of my book was one of the best moments of my life!
Life is slightly less manic now but it still isn’t easy at times. Unfortunately, due to an injury, I have been left with permanent neck and arm pain and some days this can make writing very difficult, but it will never stop me.
I love writing and hope to expand to different genres. I am currently working on my fifth novel and I hope to write many more in the future because after all (in the words of Grandad in 183 Times A Year) “it’s not a life, it’s an adventure!”