I worked as a librarian for forty years, mostly working with young people, so books have been my life, ever since I first stepped into a library and found a magical treasure trove.
My other love is social history and before I retired I got hooked on family history and discovered stories that deserve to be told.
Unlike other authors, I haven’t written all my life, other than reports and briefing papers. OK I wrote two bad novels as a teenager when I fell in love with Georgette Heyer’s books. I knew that I needed help with writing so joined a creative writing group called Arun Scribes which was the best decision I have made. The company of other writers in this lonely business is vital for teaching you the craft and supporting you along the way. Last year, I joined CHINDI network of Independent authors and once again I learned so much about marketing through them.
My first book, Search for the Light, tells the story of female convicts being transported to Van Diemen’s Land in the 1820s. The idea came when I visited the amazing Port Arthur Convict site in Tasmania and was then invited to volunteer as a researcher for the Female Convict’s Research Group, based in Hobart. My job was to trace the story of every woman sent out on the convict ship, Henry, which included my husband’s three times great grandmother. To survive the ordeal of being separated from loved ones, working in a colony where men outnumbered women by ten to one, a woman had to be tough. I found myself enthralled by their stories and hope I have given a flavour of those times to my readers.
My second book, “The Digger’s Daughter,” follows the family into the goldfields of Victoria, which, I discovered, was akin to the Wild West. It’s all there: bushfires, bushrangers, gold fever, and rebellion against unreasonable authority.
My third book, Ranter’s Wharf, is another family saga taking place in the first half of the 19th century, amidst tumultuous and radical times. The book is set in a forgotten, rural corner of England, North East Lincolnshire. It encompasses life during the Napoleonic Wars, the effects of the industrial revolution and demand for voting reform, amidst the rise of primitive Methodism amongst the working classes. A slightly unusual subject but once again I have drawn upon my own family history.
I have just begun the third and final book in The Currency Girls Series which will take the reader from the beginning of the twentieth century to post-war and will be set both in England and Australia.
So, writing is my new career, one I never expected but now love. The characters live in my head when I’m writing and I miss that when the book is finished. I like the way characters appear out of nowhere and develop a life of their own. Sometimes I wonder if they are ghosts demanding their stories be told because they become so real.