I have lived most of my life in Kent, England but I’ve also lived in New Zealand and central Africa. Both had a lasting influence. Africa dragged my love of writing to the surface. Living some forty miles from the nearest tarmac road and seventy from anything pretending to be a bookshop, I soon ran out of bedtime stories for the children. Scribbling began.
On returning to England, fiction had to take a back seat as real life took over, you know the sort of thing – a proper job to keep feeding the mortgage and the growing family, and chores, chores and more chores. But a love of writing finally erupted into regular tapping and I’ve written and read for the BBC and published short stories.
Finally, a little more time was found – five novels have been completed, and more are in the pipeline.
And where does the inspiration come from?
The first book I published was Hide in Time and I remember the moment it was conceived. One New Year’s Eve I was in St Paul’s Cathedral in London (where Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married and, over the centuries, thousands of other people too). As the bells chimed the farewell to the old year and the welcome to the new, I heard the Dean’s message of “Past and Future”, a phrase he mentioned many times. On the journey home, my mind concocted a Time Travel Romance. After four years (yes, that’s not a typo) Hide in Time was born.
Next to be published was One Dark Night. I grew up by the sea and in my teenage years I had a little sanctuary on the other side of a wall on top of a cliff. I spent many precious hours there, unseen by all but able to see all. This is where Lucy keeps watch on the smugglers and the revenue men tasked with capturing them.
When I met my husband he told me the tale of one of his ancestors who was a smuggler on the Isle of Wight. We both reckoned the tale had grown big from a small shoot over the years. However, the very first boot sale I ever went to was on the island and I bought a book about the history of the island. Lo and behold (yes a historical writer is allowed to use long-lost phrases) it told the story of the ancestor and he was every bit the smuggler and nasty piece of work. Under a Dark Star, book two of The Dark Moon series, is set on the Isle of Wight. In this book, I have modelled several characters on unsung heroes from Bletchley Park, the base of the code breakers who saved so many lives in the Second World War. Their names live on.
One Dark Soul, book three, returns us close to Lucy’s sanctuary. My heart breaks when I see young children doomed to live a dark life, powered by the selfish, brutish acts of those who are charged with their protection. Is there hope for them? Yes, but sometimes it’s a long time coming. A hanky or two might be handy as the tale unfolds. You do need to have read Under a Dark Star to get the most out of this book.
Immortality: This is Probably a Novel can lay claim to giving me the strongest inspiration. Chester, unable to lie quietly in my head while I leisurely thought up something suitable for him to do, pestered and pestered to get out. Little bit worrying really, so I was relieved to come across this quotation by Charlotte Bronte:-
“But this I know: the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master – something that, at times, strangely wills and works for itself… As for you – the nominal artist – your share in it has been to work passively under dictates you neither delivered nor could question…”
That hit the nail on the head. Bang on. Chester took me to places I’d not want to go again.
One Stolen Kiss came about when I was asked to contribute stories to collections, both raising money for charities.
Mistake in Time: In the first book I published, Hide in Time, Laura finds her way back to Regency times by keeping her right hand on a wall of chalk. I wondered where someone might end up if they kept their hand on the left wall. And so my imagination got going and followed Liberty as she surfaced in the Swinging Sixties. Researching the Sixties was fun!