I began telling stories and writing poems in my head way before I was proficient enough to write them down. Being born dyslexic was a handicap that I had to overcome from a very early age. I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t write; it is an intrinsic part of me. I am a compusive writer; I have to do it.
Q. At what age did you first get into print?
I was still at Junior School (now called Primary) when one of the teachers recognised that I had a talent for story-telling, even though my written work was badly spelt and my physical writing so poor that it was practically unreadable. Nevertheless she sent one of my (corrected) stories in for an inter-schools competition and to my amazement it won a prize and was eventually included in a book of stories by school-children. I was eight at the time.
Q. How long did you have to wait to get into print again?
Years and years. I never stopped writing and as an older schoolchild moved on from stories to plays, which I coerced the neighbourhood children into performing – I always took the lead! As an adult over many years I managed to get numerous short stories and poems published in magazines, also one or two articles; but getting a mainstream book published took me into my fifties. The piles of manuscripts and rejection slips mounted but I never gave up.
Q. When was your first book published?
In 1994 and it wasn’t a work of fiction; it was an astrological book. It came about from fifteen years of data collecting and research and further two batting to and fro publishers and agents. After going the rounds for two years and getting nowhere, I did yet another re-write, changed the title and started over again. This time on only the third attempt it was accepted for publication.
Q. Where do you get your inspiration for a story?
Sometimes an idea simply springs to mind; sometimes an unusual title will present itself; then again it could be that a particularly interesting character from real life inspires a fictional one. Whichever; the story evolves in my head before I ever begin to touch a keyboard. By the time I begin to write the main characters have become close friends whom I know intimately and totally understand.
Q. What genres do you prefer?
Children’s fiction is where I feel most comfortable; both stories for very young readers and those for juvenile, teens and young adults. I have only completed one adult novel although I have written dozens of adult short stories. I find writing for this market more of a challenge because for some reason when doing so I find myself drawn into some of the darker aspects of my memories. Even when I begin with a light, even frivolous, theme the characters tend to take me down a road of their own making. It can be quite disturbing.
Q. Who or what has been the most influence in your life?
My parents for vastly different reasons. My mother, because I always felt that I let her down (probably because of the dyslexia) and I needed to prove to myself and to her that I had creative talent and would develop it in spite of my restricted early education. Also because it is from her that I get my love of language and of classical literature in particular. Unfortunately my first book was not accepted for publication until almost a year after she died and came out in print almost two years to the day of her first anniversary – so sad! My father, because he always showed great pride in my achievements; always encouraged my efforts. But also because he was an extremely complex man, with hidden (and not always pleasant) depths and who suffered from an inability to express emotions; unless it was through anger. He has I’m sure been the basis for many of my fictional characters.
What are you working on next?
Another children’s e-book; this time about a partially-sighted girl and two unusual cats that change her life when they come to live in her home. It is a tale of danger, mystery, magic and wonder.
Why have you swopped from print books to e-books?
Because I am no longer young and have not the time to spend approaching publishers and agents. I find it more rewarding to concentrate on writing, and the inevitable re-writes, then upload them to Smashwords and have them immediately available to the reading public.
Q. What do you personally get from being a writer?
I don’t really know; writing is just something I do; part of what I am; what makes me, me. From a very early age it was a somewhere I could escape to when the real world became oppressive or difficult. To me my characters reallly exist in my head – even the toys or the animals; they are friends on whom I can rely always to entertain and distract.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Enjoying the company of family and friends; painting; gardening; walking and studying people - I am by nature a people watcher; I find them the most fascinating (though definitely not the nicest) creatures on earth.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.