Writing stories with complex characters whose tale may hold humour and a dark edge: that’s what I enjoy writing.
I was an early and avid reader but didn’t expect to become a writer. Looking things up in books fascinated me and 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 I was thoroughly enjoying, the new school, Arts Educational, was wonderful too (if not academically!). I loved every art form, especially Drama, and revelled in the top-notch professional teaching we received in every class from classical ballet to syncopated tap to improvisation in drama to Shakespearian study.
I left school at fifteen for the associated college where after taking all my Royal Academy of Dancing and Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing exams, 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 Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. My father said, NO. He didn’t want me alone in London at sixteen.
Even now, if I had my time again I’d choose to work in repertory theatre. No glamour, but ready to step into any part. The idea of being a character actor gave way, reluctantly, with my father’s sober influence, to 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 in psychology, I enjoyed a very varied, if often stressful career as a psychologist. The way people think, learn, understand and behave was the focus of my working life.
Now retired, I create characters instead. I enjoy complexities and quirkiness in characters whether very young or adult. For me, imaginary characters are preferable to real-life ones: there is more freedom to develop their history. I avoid autobiographical writing and my characters are not people I knew, let alone know.
As for my avatar, I prefer using this to a mug-shot. ‘Girl Before Word Processor’ (with thanks to Picasso) was 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, perhaps.
I began writing fiction 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,
Since then, I’ve been writing a contemporary series, best described as psychological suspense. Uncommon Relations follows the fortunes of an ordinary man caught up in increasingly bizarre situations with a large cast of complex characters. The first two books are published, the third just completed. The fourth begun…
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 Guildford Literary Festival short story competition.