I was born, the oldest of four children, in Derbyshire, and had a happy childhood even though my Father’s work meant we moved around many towns and I was always starting in new schools. From an early age I loved reading and writing stories and was often asked to read them out in class, which I did very nervously at first but gradually became more confident. Eventually I arrived, aged 11, in Accrington and, on being accused of ‘speaking posh,’ I rapidly acquired a Lancashire accent, which has never quite faded despite moving away from Lancashire aged 18.
After studying English and Psychology at Hull University I ended up in Worcestershire with a much-loved job as an English lecturer in a College. This combined my two great fascinations, words and people.
One of my proudest moments was when I was nominated for the Outstanding Teaching and Learning Practitioner Awards by the Learning and Skills Council. After winning in the Midlands category I went on to be a finalist in the National Awards. At an amazing Star Awards ceremony in London I was delighted to be Highly Commended as Runner Up.
But I found juggling this demanding job with bringing up two sons left little time for writing. However, I have always kept a daily diary which records events, ideas and feelings. These not only make for fascinating reading years later, but are a source of inspiration for the motivations of my characters.
I wrote one novel whilst I was at work but, as I’m sure most writers find, it was very frustrating trying to fit a challenging work-load round my need to write. And it was a need.
So recently, and reluctantly, I left my College job before the paperwork and procedures sucked all the joy out of a career I loved. So now, at last, I can concentrate on my life-long ambition to write. And it’s like a dam has burst. All the pent up stories and ideas flow non-stop. When I’m on a roll I write throughout the night. During the day I work through scenarios during housework and mutter dialogue over the kitchen sink, just itching for the moment when I can sit at my computer to write in all down. Bliss.
I have thus far written three novels and an amazing 24 children’s books.
Reading and writing, it’s fair to say I love both equally.
Running two book reading groups satisfies my love of discussing a wide range of reading with fellow enthusiasts. And I have kept a book diary recording hundreds of my reviews over many years. (see my Blog Page for my latest book reviews)
Some old favourites are Daphne du Maurier, Jilly Cooper, Maeve Binchy and Joanna Trollope.
But the two authors who have probably influenced me the most are Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. I love their sly humour, wicked observations and humorous asides.
Georgette Heyer is my spirit-lifting-read-again-favourite. I am inspired by the sparkly bantering dialogue between her equally-matched heroes and heroines. If only I could write as wittily and effervescently as she does. And as effortlessly!
Jane Austen’s novels are my long-time loves and I also devour anything Austen-related. So my toes curled with pleasure as I read Death Comes to Pemberley. How perfectly P D James captures the Austen style and takes the story of Elizabeth and Darcy believably into their futures.
And my eyes were opened by the cleverly constructed meshing of the upstairs /downstairs Pride and Prejudice domestic scenes in Jo Baker’s Longbourn. I had never thought about the servant aspect before and I will now re-read all the books from a different viewpoint.
And as a film fan I enjoy discussing films from many countries at a local film club. And I have an eclectic mix of films I enjoy. (See my blog page for latest reviews)
Thinking of all the challenges posed by adapting a novel for film was the inspiration behind my first novel, Love in La La Land
However, confession time, my DVD collection features a lot of films starring Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. So, purely for research purposes of course, I might spend an evening with one of these men …and chocolate. Very inspiring for my writing.
Or should I just confess and call it ‘holidays’. I especially like going to ‘Goldilocks’ places where it’s not too hot and not too cold, so we often to go north in the summer (e.g. Norway, Iceland, Canada, Scotland), and south in the winter (The Caribbean, U.S.A, Spain).
We have been lucky enough to have travelled to many more countries, especially in Europe, and to many exciting cities such as Amsterdam, St Petersburg, Brussels, Quebec, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Some of these places feature in my novels. I loved our recent big trip ‘Down Under’ to New Zealand and Australia, especially Tasmania where I bought a wonderful necklace .
As my husband is a fluent French speaker (and I can get by) we also visit France at least once a year. Just recently we realised that, as a result of all these visits, we have in fact travelled around the whole length of the French coastline (plus Corsica) and have been to every single Département.
But still our favourites are Brittany for family holidays, Provence for sharing with friends and Nice for us as a couple. My delight in sitting in the sun in a cafe in Nice is the inspiration behind my book Love, Lies and Café au Lait.
Although I’m not a big exercise fan, I do love dancing and music, so combine the two enthusiastically in my sessions of Zumba, and, if I’ve got enough breath, I even sing along in incomprehensible Spanish. And as a Strictly fan, I love Fitsteps where I learn all the dances, such as the Quickstep, the American Smooth, the Paso Doble and especially the fiery, passionate Tango.
And of course my garden. I do one side of the garden in a flowery disorderly riot of colours and my husband does the other with neat serried rows of vegetables. We meet down the bottom amidst the roses.