I live in Garstang, Lancashire, England with my husband, Darrell, and our black labrador, Bodie. Our three grown up children, who have now flown the nest.
I spent 25 years as a lawyer before giving up the corporate life and opening a café with my husband in 2014. The café closed in 2021 and I am now a full-time writer.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved books and I still have some of my treasured books from my childhood. I remember buying a paperback copy of Winnie-the-Pooh in 1977 from Woolworths in St Annes. My nanna gave me some pocket money and said I could buy whatever I wanted, so I headed straight for the book department.
In junior school, I devoured all of Enid Blyton’s books, as well as classics such as One Hundred and One Dalmations, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden was the first book that made me cry! I loved it and read it numerous times.
My older sister had very bad asthma, so my books kept me occupied during her long stays in hospital.
In my teenage years, I progressed to Judy Blume books, which we passed around our friendship group like treasure, devouring and consuming her words.
I went to an old-fashioned girl’s grammar school, which gave me my love of classic fiction. My English Literature teacher was a delightful lady akin to Miss Jean Brodie. I remember dissecting Wuthering Heights and it annoyed me that the teacher picked out individual words and analysed them. I remember asking her whether she thought that authors really spent as much time considering each word as we were spending discussing them. She told me that they absolutely did. I didn't believe her at the time, but now I know she was right!
I am so thankful to my English teacher for making me fall in love with Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy. When we read The Mayor of Casterbridge, she encouraged us to buy our own copy, which I still have, full of my fourteen year old pencilled scribbles.
When my children were born, I wanted them to love books as much as I did, so every year at Christmas, from their first Christmas to when they were sixteen, I bought them a special edition of a children’s classic, with the aim that they would then have sixteen beautiful books, which they could keep.
When we moved to our small cottage in Garstang in 2020, I made the difficult decision to downsize my book collection. But I am pleased to say that it is slowly and surely growing back!
Dogwood Lane is an adventure story for children aged between 6 – 10. Dave, our old border terrier, features in this book, with a cat called Milo, who is afraid to venture outside.
Forget Me Not is a book for young adults. It was shortlisted for a prize at the Wells Literary Festival in 2021. Sophia is a teenager whose elder sister has died. When she moves schools, she doesn’t want to talk about her sister, as she just wants to live a normal life. She makes a new friend at school, Lily, whose dad has abandoned her. When she finds out where he has been, it is a huge shock to both of the girls. The book contains letters that Sophia writes to her dead sister, by way of a diary. The first letter is based on one that I wrote to my own sister, who died when she was 18 and I was 16, as part of a grief counselling session. As you can imagine, this book was a very emotional one for me to write, but I think my sister would be proud of it.
Just Breathe is my first contemporary novel for adults. They say that when you write a novel, you should write what you know. I don’t know whether this is particularly good advice and I would like to think that authors who write about serial killers are not writing from experience. However, I did heed that advice, to a certain extent.
I worked as a lawyer for around twenty-five years, before I managed to escape and had a complete career change. I opened a café with my husband, Darrell, in 2014, which we ran for just over six years. Unlike my protagonist, Charlotte, I would never consider going back to the legal profession. In my twenties, I started my career doing criminal law and used to love the buzz of the court room and visiting clients in prison, but it was when I reached my mid-thirties that I began to really dislike the job. By then I was working for a big law firm defending fraudulent road accidents, so our clients were insurance companies. Targets were increased and wages were kept low and I didn’t enjoy my job one little bit. However, I had a large mortgage and small children, so I didn’t have the luxury of walking out.
The office was like Charlotte’s London office in the book, large open plan with dozens of people who worked silently, head down, all day. In my team, on the odd occasion when we stopped for breath, we used to have conversations about what we would do if we had a change of career and could do our ideal, stress-free job. I used to say that I’d like to run a café. When that dream eventually came true for me, my friend Eleanor, who is still a lawyer, told me that she sees me as ‘the one that got away’. This is a title that I am proud to own! So in that respect I am like Charlotte. But in every other respect, I am not like her at all.
Charlotte manages to escape her stressful job and moves to Warkworth, a village on the Northumberland coast. If any of you have visited Warkworth, or are lucky enough to live there, I hope you will agree that I have done it justice and that you can appreciate why a person would choose to live there.
I am currently working on a sequel to Just Breathe.