I was born and brought up in Rotherhithe, south-east London, where my father worked as a stevedore in Surrey Docks.
I was evacuated many times during the war, but I kept coming back as I was so homesick! I was at home on the first night of the Blitz, 7 September 1940, and as we lived near Surrey Docks our house was very badly blasted. After that, we moved to Carshalton in Surrey.
I was never at any one school long enough to sit for an exam and when I was fourteen I left school and became a hairdresser’s apprentice. I always liked writing ‘compositions’ (as we called them in those days). I knew my spelling was bad, as my father was always telling me that the letters I wrote home were filled with mistakes – this doesn’t help when you have aspirations of being a writer, but I never even gave this a thought at that time.
I met Les when I was sixteen, fell in love and we were married when I was twenty. After I had my two daughters, I used to write for them and they seemed to enjoy my stories. When I told Les that I was interested in writing, he encouraged me to join a writing group. I bought an old, second-hand typewriter, even though I couldn’t type, and I started to send off short stories, articles and plays for publication. They were all rejected!
It wasn’t until the girls were married and Les and I moved to Spain that I thought about writing a novel. Les was out working and I was on my own for most of the day. I’d sit on my patio typing away (I still wasn’t very good at typing!); I loved writing and letting my imagination go wild. I sent chapters home to my writing group - the Havant & District Writers' Circle - for criticism and I’d get glowing letters back, encouraging me to try to get the novel published. I am still an active member of the group today.
By the time we moved back to Hampshire in 1989, I’d already finished one novel called My Name is Caroline and started writing Polly. I sent the required first three chapters and a synopsis to Headline, as I’d heard they were looking for saga writers. They asked to see the whole manuscript! Headline suggested I find an agent and asked me to do some work on the novel. Les bought me an Amstrad word processor, which I thought was wonderful as it had spell-check!
On 24 April 1990, I had a call from my agent telling me that Headline was going to publish my novel. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was; I was laughing and crying at the same time. Twenty-two years on, Headline is still publishing my books, and now and again I’ll go to my bookshelf and read a small excerpt from one of my novels. I still can’t believe I wrote them all!
I now have one of those all-singing, all-dancing computers. I must admit I’m still not very good at spelling and every time I look up at the screen, I see lots of lovely, helpful, green and red squiggles under the words!
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