A series of events, bereavements and a degree of bullying led me to become a mature university student - something I had never considered possible. Decades earlier, a similar set of reasons had forced me to leave school, needing to work. Writing was something I had once enjoyed at school, but beyond that I never gave it a second thought. I worked. I married. I had children. We moved several times, because of my husband’s work and I stayed home looking after the children, as women usually did in those days. And because I stayed home, I read voraciously.
I’ve always been a reader. From my earliest memory, I had a book in my hand and by the time I was a teen I was hooked on historical fiction. That love of history stories never left me. As the years passed, I became interested in family history and joined the genealogy society and started researching the past. What I was going to do with all this information beyond building the family tree I had no idea. Not until much later.
A memory returned. I hunted amongst my files for my essays for a creative writing course and there, in black and white, was a handwritten note. “You write well. You should publish.” And then I saw a letter from the university hierarchy after a particularly good exam result on Irish Literature, which also advised me to look at publishing.
I didn’t sign up for my Ph.D. I joined a writing group instead and learnt to write a novel. To begin with I knew my style was too formal and academic. One of the group told me to take a section and turn the whole thing into dialogue. That was my turning point. Suddenly, words became simpler, explanations easier, and emotions clearer. Of course, I couldn’t write the whole book as dialogue, but it was a start. University had given me another vital skill – how to research. So, I researched, I wrote, rewrote, ditched it, picked it up again and had another author beta read it for me and pull it to pieces. She did so - kindly, and told me to keep writing. I was a good writer.
After five years of struggle, I released my first book in 2011. ‘The Disenchanted Soldier’, is written as a time-slip novel about a researcher digging into the past and discovering what her ancestors had achieved. Then came ‘The Cornish Knot’ and ‘The Art of Secrets’ both contemporary novels with female protagonists who trace their own family tree and uncover secrets from the past which free them from the world they feel trapped in. ‘The Girl from County Clare’ and my latest release ‘Gwenna’ have historical settings. Both stories are about young girls with uncommon determination in Victorian times when women were expected to stay at home and leave business to their menfolk. These girls thought differently.