I grew up an only child in a family where my parents did not socialise or allow me to socialise much. I learned to read at the age of four and spent my childhood reading everything I could get my hands on. Books I remember: Noddy, Walter the Hottle Bottle, The Magic Faraway Tree, Famous Five, Secret Seven, Nancy Drew, I am David. I loved the animal stories written by Joyce Stranger.
Later it was Mills and Boon (read under my blankets with a torch as comics, photo comics and trashy novels were a no-no in our house) and then ‘airport novels’ such as Valley of the Dolls, Woman of Substance and everything by Wilbur Smith, Nevil Shute, Arthur Hailey, Alistair MacLean. And of course the Brontës and Jane Austen.
I also started to write my own stories at the age of five, continuing right through school. I was given the book below at the age of eight and I decided then that I wanted to be a writer or a journalist.
My parents died when I was in my teens and I found that pouring out my anger and my grief into my diary really helped. I am not a talker and so people assumed I was fine and let me be. So my diary really helped me get through things. It provided a willing ear so to speak. I could tell it anything.
When I finished school I got my first degree in English literature (specialising in the works of Thomas Hardy and epic poems – particularly Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene) and Journalism.
From then my career has involved books and writing in some form or other. From teaching writing to proofreading, translating and typesetting it. From creating books to reviewing them. From Filofaxes and planners to beautiful handmade journals. Below are some of my favourites
And finally, this is my father’s novel. He worked on it evenings and weekends and even though it remained unpublished, it was very special to him. It was in the fire which killed my grandmother and this is all that remains. On the way home from her funeral my father had a stroke and went off the road. He died shortly afterwards. Four months later my mother died. I sometimes look at this book and it reminds me of the story of my life. It is also illegible. But it means something to someone.