What do you write? Why this in particular?
I mainly write flash fiction and short stories. Also, when the mood takes me, I write poetry.
I enjoy these forms of writing because I have a flitting mind, and lots of ideas.
I love the challenge of writing to a title and trying to put a twist on the stories. I try to find an angle that others won’t.
I have written 30,000 words of a novelette. I began in lockdown but put it in ‘the drawer’ when we were allowed out! (It’s still there!)
I am currently compiling 50,000 words of short stories, as a collection to submit to Gill in the new year!
What got you started on writing in the first place?
I ‘found’ writing after I retired. I started a writing course at the local Tech college, but it folded. I was so disappointed. But I soon found another a little further away from me, in Winchester. The tutor was inspirational and the writing bug bit.
I found some writing groups through the local library. They’ve been extremely helpful, especially setting titles to write to and giving feedback.
I’ve entered a few local competitions and done well, so I was driven on to keep writing.
Do you have a particular routine?
Not especially. I prefer writing in the morning, leaving the afternoon to relax my shoulders and do other things. Although bizarrely, I also like writing in bed! When doing my homework for college, I like to get something down on paper, after my drive home whilst thinking about the task.
Do you have a dedicated working space?
Yes, I have a laptop on a messy desk in the study. Above my desk I have a lovely big, framed print of the Verrocchio painting, ‘Tobias and the Angel,’ which I fell in love with on a visit to The National Gallery in London. My work colleagues gave it to me on my retirement. It means a lot to me. The story behind the painting is an apocryphal tale about doing good turns, believing, and having ‘the scales removed from your eyes.’ It’s great.
My desk is right next to my conservatory, which has gold window blinds and a burnt orange roof blind. The morning sun shines in, and I feel cocooned and warm. Lovely.
When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?
I haven’t yet called myself a writer. I say I write. But to call myself a writer feels odd. I suppose now I have my first book published by Gill, I should go ahead and say I am a writer.
How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?
My friends and family are very supportive.
My husband Bob is pleased that I am doing something I want to do and enjoy doing. Also, I am out of his way!
I have several friends from writing groups who have been very encouraging and helpful when my writing needs critiquing or just to remind me where commas really should go! I have belonged to Writers’Inc in Basingstoke for several years and they have driven me on to achieve publication.
My grandson Freddie is proud of me for writing but prouder that I play walking football!
My other grandson Barney says his favourite thing at school is writing! Yay!
My granddaughter Poppy, who has just turned three, constantly carries what she calls ‘her diary’ around and adds her squiggles every now and then.
My son writes. His writing is very deep. We exchange our efforts sometimes via email, as he lives in Australia.
My daughter can’t understand why I would want to do anything involving writing!
What are you most proud of in your writing?
That Gill has published my collection. I never thought I would find anywhere for my kind of writing to be published but then Allison Symes spoke at The Hampshire Writers’ Society and told us about CafeLit and Bridge House publications. And the rest as they say is history! (Cliché)
I followed up Allison’s lead only to find Gill was a lecturer (then) in my hometown of Salford. It seemed like we were a good fit and so I bit the bullet. I sent some stories off and now I have a book out!
How do you get on with editing and research?
I don’t like it!
For my book The City of Stories, I had Allison Symes as my editor. She had to be very patient, and she was. I found the process tricky, but Allison helped enormously.
As for research, the internet is a marvellous invention.
I also use settings I have been to, in my stories. I collect postcards of places I’ve been, to remind me. Such as the cream stone quintessence of the Cotswolds’ cottages or the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ metal sign above Auschwitz. The visit to Auschwitz inspired my poem, Are they your red shoes? Which is in the book.
Do you have any goals for the future?
I am hoping that I can compile a collection of short stories to submit to Gill in 2022. I am struggling at the moment as the summer and ‘freedom’ from COVID has distracted me.
I would like to enter a bigger competition than the ones I have entered and be placed or acknowledged in some way…but to achieve that I have to enter!
My fourth grandchild is due in the new year. If I could write a children’s book for them, I would.
Which writers have inspired you?
I was an avid reader of Agatha Christie. I say was as I have read them all and have the collection on my bookshelves. I now listen to them on Audio and love to watch adaptations of her work. I do try to avoid writing murder mysteries though, although I have written one about a murder in the Cotswolds for the collection of short stories. Working title: Slaughter in the Slaughters!
HG Wells was a favourite in my youth as was John Wyndham. Some of my stories have resonances of their work, I am sure. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New world is an all-time favourite of mine.
Stephen King and James Patterson are also old favourites. I love Stephen King’s book, ’On writing.’ Some great advice in there.
My writerly friends also inspire me.
So tell me about your new book.
I enjoyed compiling it. I found it interesting to see which stories were good to go together and where to place the poems.
Tell us about your research for this book.
The research was mainly through life’s rich tapestry! (Cliché) Many of my stories come from observations of people and their circumstances. Any research done would involve the internet eg: ensuring symptoms of an illness mentioned was accurate or what specific words like tontine mean.
What inspired you to write this?
All stories were born from a different inspiration. Many were written to a given title such as ‘The phone rang twice ‘or ‘Turning over a new Leaf.’ Others were in response to competition stimuli eg: write a story about someone struggling with disability or a story set in the future. All those ideas were turned into stories that are in the book.
I am working hard to compile a collection of short stories to send to Gill in 2022.
How can we get a copy of the book?
The book is on sale through http://www.thebridgetowncafebooksshop.co.uk/2021/10/the-city-of-stories.html it is also on Amazon.
Do you have any events planned?
I am promoting The City of Stories. I have three dates to speak at my college, two for groups I belong to, and I have a stall at The Hampshire Writers’ Society authors’ book fair. I also will be attending Gill’s event in London, where I will read extracts from the book and hopefully sell some copies? That will see me through to Christmas when it will be time to recuperate and go again in the new year, where there are a couple of irons in the fire!