I’ve been tagged by the super-lovely Kelly Florentia to take part in My Lovely Blog Hop. So here are a few thoughts about my past, present, my writing, and why, responding to one point here, I almost fibbed but decided to tell the truth in the end.
Me and my sister, Helen, with our father, aged about 5 and 3.
Riding on the back of a bicycle behind my father, his presence large and dark and safe. It was one of those seats fixed to the mudguard that are no doubt outlawed now. I have no idea how old I was, but at least three or four, I’d say. He died when I was six and I have so few memories of him that I treasure this one. It’s faint, visceral rather than concrete. Sometimes, I stare at photographs of my mother’s and try to conjure memories, but truthfully I cannot recall the actual moments of any of them. He’s rather more like a shadow, a friendly ghost, in childhood memories and I know my sister feels this too.
Favourite books of 2014 (some of them!)
Though I didn’t always want to be a writer – I definitely didn’t enjoy it at a school and was in the lower half of the class, attainment wise, in English – stories have been a consistent presence in my life, personally and professionally. As a child I was a voracious reader, and remain so today. I didn’t own many books – see the section on libraries – other than those given as Christmas or birthday presents from distant aunts and uncles, but I devoured anything I could lay my hands on: classics like the Narnia Chronicles, Tom’s Midnight Garden, and The Secret Garden as well as popular titles like Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers and St Clare’s series. The allure of boarding school to a state school kid was irresistible. Nowadays, I read more contemporary fiction than anything else – I had my fill of the classics after three years studying for a degree in English Literature. Authors I admire and enjoy are too numerous to list here but those who consistently awe include Maggie O’Farrell, Jojo Moyes, Jenn Ashworth, Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro and Margaret Atwood.
Gladstone’s Library in north Wales
Predictably, I love them. As a child and young woman I was a regular borrower. Like so many of us, I don’t borrow anywhere near as often as I used to but I do visit the fabulous Jubilee Library in Brighton, my home town. The first writers’ group I joined met at the Jubilee and it hosts fundraising events like that for the super-fantastic Little Green Pig project as well as author events. It’s a joy to hang out in. Another favourite library is the Gladstone in north Wales, just down the road from where I grew up. It is breathtakingly beautiful and it hosts an excellent literary festival in September with a host of inspiring author talks and workshops – including yours truly at last year’s shindig! The Gladstone offers writers’ retreats and I have been fortunate enough to secure a scholarship there this summer. Other authors have sung its praises as the ideal place to be inspired and write and I can see why. Roll on August.
What’s your passion?
A Patrick Heron print – one of my fave artists
Tempted as I am to sound much more interesting and exciting than I actually am and make something up, I’m going to be truthful and admit that other than reading and writing and my family, I don’t really have one. I do love clothes and fashion and seeking out fabulous bargains, and have been known to post some of my more unusual finds on Facebook (a German 60s shift dress, anyone?). Also, I love art, enjoy watching films and drinking wine and eating cake – eating out, full stop, but I’m not sure that these count as passions. Writing and books is it. Sad but true, perhaps?
I believe that learning is for life not just for school days and the moment we stop learning we stop living. Enough said.
Given that I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time blathering about my writing work I’ll say little more than the sentences below. Feel free to rummage around the rest of my site if you need or want more *hear me laughing*
My next two novels are to be published by Accent Press. The first, Redemption Song, in January 2016, followed by Skin Deep later that year. There’s more info on them here.
Many thanks to Kelly for nominating me. It’s been fun ambling down memory lane, picking the daisies. Now, I’m breaking into a sprint (not!) to hand over the baton to author mate Annette Sills. Annette’s debut, The Relative Harmony of Julie O’Hagan, is set in Manchester – where I studied – and is a lively, often moving, read, and she’s a super-nice person too.