I was an early and avid reader but didn’t expect to become a writer. Looking things up in books fascinated me and at ten I expected to have a career in research. Aged ten, I won a governor’s scholarship to grammar school. How scary those first weeks were in what seemed to me a daunting community of huge people, for I was small for my age as well being as a year younger than my class. The school had a forward-thinking head. She initiated occasional academic subject exhibitions that I found very exciting. Although I wasn’t there very long, that time and the radical ideas about learning have always stayed with me. However, I’d been early trained as a dancer and against stiff opposition from the head teacher, my mother moved me from the grammar to a performing arts school. Although devastated to leave the lessons and the friends I was thoroughly enjoying, the new school, Arts Educational was wonderful too (if not academically). I loved every art form, especially Drama, and relished the top-notch professional teaching we received in every class.
After taking all my RAD and ISTD exams, I left school at fifteen. I qualified as a dancing teacher at sixteen but had zero interest in such a career. I greatly preferred acting after such exciting classes at school so I applied for and gained a place at RADA. My father said, NO. Even now, if I had my time again I’d choose to be in repertory theatre. No glamour, but being ready to step into any part. The idea of being a character actor was supplanted, with my father’s sober influence, by an academic life. I had to distance study on my own, having left school well before ‘A’ levels. However, I went on to gain degrees from Birmingham, Sussex and Exeter universities. With my Ph.D I enjoyed a very varied, and often stressful career as a psychologist. How people think, learn, understand and behave has been the focus of my working life.
Now retired, I create characters, and understand and hear them instead. I relish complexities and quirkiness in characters of all ages. Imaginary characters are better to write about than real-life ones: there is more freedom to develop their history. I avoid autobiographical writing. My characters are not people I knew, let alone know.
As for my avatar, I prefer using it to a mug-shot. This is the first time I’ve put a photo on line. Most of my material is identified by my avatar ‘Girl Before Word Processor (with thanks to Picasso)’ created by my second son, Neil. It has two faces. They represent my two selves, the serious and the irreverent. They could also refer to the watcher and the seen, the inner and the outer person. Highly relevant to a psychologist you might say.
Writing fiction became an increasing occupation before I retired. I amassed a large number of short stories, a fictional biography and a novel before I wrote and published the historical trilogy, A Relative Invasion. This has been my main achievement so far, with professional validations that made me very happy, but there are more novels (contemporary fiction) nearing completion. My short stories have been performed in Bath and Bristol, UK, included in anthologies and long- or short-listed for competitions including the BBC radio short story competition, the Fish Knife, and Chichester Literary Festival short story competition.
My two short story collections gave me tremendous amusement to write. Read more in my Books tab.