I am a British writer and poet who spends half her life in an old farmhouse in the Czech Republic and half back in the Cotswolds, England.
I was a successful published poet in my teens and twenties, (featuring in the Grandchildren of Albion anthology). Then my son arrived and I was juggling motherhood and career and somehow there wasn't time for the writing. So many women will know how that feels. I regretted it of course and I kept on writing in my head.
I worked with disadvantaged people for about twenty years. It was emotionally hard work but very rewarding. But it took its toll and a few years ago I realised that I couldn't continue. I needed to start writing again.
In my career I had listened to so many brave women (and men and children), to their stories of the terrible things that happened to them and of their survival. I'd worked with asylum seekers, the homeless, abused women, people whose lives have been broken, women like the central character in Girl in the Glass. I have never had their experiences and I suppose the only way I could start understanding was to work it through using my imagination. Not that the central character in Girl in the Glass is any one woman, she isn't, her story is her own, it's fiction.
About seven years ago I bought a derelict Czech farmhouse and it was there I began to write again. As Virginia Woolf said "Every woman needs a room of her own.", not just physically but psychologically - a creative space.
I was lucky to have a very close friend, Hannah Kodicek, who was encouraging me to write. She was a professional story editor in the film industry and lectured on the subject as part of a European programme. She loved my poetry and saw that I needed to let that side of my personality out again. When I finished the first book (for children) I asked her to read it.
Hannah's way of critiquing was not to criticise, it was not even to say what was wrong or right. Basically she asked lots of questions. "Such as what are the Shadows?" I hadn't really worked it out. And "Who is this female character? Why have you drawn her so badly?" When I thought about it, I realised that I was fascinated by the female healer/witch. And so I wrote a second novel, still for children, with the healer as the main character. Hannah's reaction was "Are you sure this is a children's novel?" All the time I was learning the craft. Hannah lent me Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey, a copy of Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and her own notes on story structure and tools. By the time I wrote another novel, Mother of Wolves, Hannah told me that there was little more she could teach me, which was untrue. You can always learn from a good reader.
Hannah died of cancer in April 2011. But by then I was writing the adult book I had avoided and I promised her that I would publish it. I owed it to her and to all those women whose stories had influenced me.
My husband is a writer and former editor in the conventional printed book industry, so I know how few books actually sell and how soon they end up being pulped. My main motivation in writing is to communicate so I've gone down the epublishing route, which allows me to reach out to readers across the world.
Where to find Zoe Brooks online
This member has not published any books.