I had wanted to become a journalist when leaving secondary school, but my careers advice was not helpful. "Don't be silly," I was told, "you can't type." (I still can't, I use four fingers.) Instead, I worked in a Chingford library where I stayed for 13 years although I was not very happy there - I did not realise it, but I wanted to write. The one advantage of the library, however, was the access to books, and it was there that I came across the Roman historical novels of Rosemary Sutcliff, the Arthurian trilogy by Mary Stewart, and the historian Geoffrey Ashe. I was hooked on Roman Britain - and King Arthur!
Reading everything I could, I eventually became frustrated that novels were not how I personally felt about the matter of Arthur and Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere).
By this time, I was married with a young daughter. I had time on my hands and so I started writing my idea of Arthurian Britain . I deliberately decided not to include Merlin and Lancelot, there was to be no magic or Medieval myth. My book was to be a "what might have really happened" historical novel, not a fantasy, and most certainly not a romance! What I didn't know, when I started, was that my one book was to grow into enough words to make a complete trilogy.
I found an agent who placed me with William Heinemann - I was accepted for publication just after my 40th birthday. The best birthday present I have ever had.
I had previously had a smaller success with a children's personal safety book (stranger danger) called "Come and Tell Me," a little story that I had written for my daughter when she was 3. I wanted to tell her how to keep safe in a clear and simple manner - with a message that could be easily remembered. "Always come and tell me before you go anywhere with anyone" fitted nicely. I was immensely proud when my little story was taken up as an official safety book by the British Home Office to be used nationally by the police and schools. Unfortunately "Come and Tell Me" is temporarily out of print.Now parted from my ex-agent, I am Indie published in the UK by a small Bristol-based independent publisher SilverWood Books UK and mainstream in the US by Sourcebooks Inc.
I have no qualifications, nor have I been to college or university, although I have studied part-time for my Medieval History Diploma, which, I'm pleased to report, I passed with honours. One day I might get around to finishing the complete degree. If ever I find the spare time!
I recently moved from in Walthamstow, with my husband Ron who is retired, and my adult daughter Kathy to Devon. Both Ron and Kathy are severely dyslexic, and have not yet managed to tackle the enormity of a novel of nearly 600 pages, yet they are both supportive and encouraging, never minding that I am often too absorbed in writing to remember to cook dinner or get the shopping in. We have several pets and Kathy's horses.
My fourth historical novel is about King Harold II and the breathtaking sequence of events that led to one of the most famous battles in English history - Hastings in 1066, while my fifth book is a prequal to Harold - the story of Edward the Confessor's mother, Emma, who was queen of England - twice - when she was wife to Æthelred the Unready and then King Cnut (Canute). I am also connected to a major project - 1066 the movie - as co-scriptwriter and general advisor. We hope to start shooting in 2010.
In 2005 I had a disagreement with my agent - I felt that she was not doing the best for me or listening to how I wanted to expand as a writer, so we parted company. Simultaneously, William Heinemann decided not to print any more of my backlist, and so I became redundant. I moped for two weeks then decided to pick myself up and start afresh.
I obtained the copyright to my books and took them to a small independent company. I also decided to go ahead with the project that my ex-agent was not interested in - a series of pirate-based nautical adventures, starting with the first "voyage of Captain Jesamiah Acorne" - Sea Witch. In 2011, with financial problems hitting many small companies, I again found myself without a publisher, but made the decision to self publish all my UK editions with SilverWood Books, a choice I have not regretted. I describe these historical adventure books as "a typical sailor's yarn" since, unlike my historical novels, these are partial fantasy and are for adult reading.
I hope to soon be published in several other countries. I have an Australian Fan Club.
In June 2011 I officially became a "bestselling author" when my novel The Forever Queen (US edition of A Hollow Crown) was ranked in the USA Today Bestseller list.
So, with the fourth Sea Witch Voyage (Ripples In The Sand) published in early 2013, a new writing project about to be started, my 60th birthday reached, and an exciting new life settled in our beautiful old home in Devon, things continue to look bright and I eagerly await the future.