Like many writers, I’ve been scribbling stories since I was a child. I wrote my first poem The Melon when I was six years old. My Dad kept it in a shoe- box of memories which I inherited after his death three years ago. I won’t embarrass myself by reproducing it here! (Unless someone really wants to read it.)
My dream was to be a great romantic novelist and wear lots of colourful clothes and make-up like Barbara Cartland. I wrote stories about love and weddings, illustrated them with pictures from magazines and gave copies to my friends, produced on my Dad’s work Xerox.
So what happened? Life got in the way and despite devouring my weekly feast of four Mills and Boon books a week, under the covers at night with the help of a torch, I only ever wrote a few chapters of My Arabian Prince and You are Mine. Getting a publisher back in those days was almost impossible so there was little motivation to follow anything through to the end. I had an old manual typewriter and had to use carbon paper to make sure I kept a master copy. I can’t remember if Tippex was around but there were some correction paper strips you had to place carefully on the letters you needed to erase then strike the same letter on the keyboard. Fiddly or what!
I got my first personal computer in 1983 after my Brother electric typewriter went up in smoke.
Despite running my own training and communications business for thirty years, I found time to write but turned my attention to business books instead of fiction. It was much easier and my work was taken seriously enough for Management Pocketbooks Ltd to send me a publishing contract.
I remember the morning a courier delivered a box of twelve copies of my first book, Cultural Gaffes (now out of print). Seeing my name gave me such a thrill. I’d finally done it.
But… it wasn’t a novel.
I went on to write three more business books some of which have been translated into other languages. Whenever I pass through an airport bookshop and see the Pocketbook series, I can’t resist rearranging them so mine are at the front!
As I got older and tired of racing around the world on planes and trains to deliver my courses, I began to think about my former dreams to write a novel. In these days of self-publishing, getting it out there wasn’t such a headache anymore. We can buy all sorts of editorial help from critiques to copy editing, proof-reading and technological wizardry. That would be my back-stop I decided.
One May morning in 2015 I sat down at my brand new laptop and stared at the screen for an hour, doodling ideas on a notepad. I knew what I wanted to write about. As someone who has courted controversy over the years, it had to be a book representing a voice of someone or a group of people whose words usually fell on deaf ears. I’d seen many examples of women being abused in the home, particularly emotionally but what about men who suffered the same treatment from their female partners? Who was speaking out for them? Here was my theme and the more I researched the more passionate I became. Every morning for three hours I sat in my study and tapped out 2000 words a day. No need for tippex. Isn’t word processing a wonderful invention for those of us who remember more painful methods of producing a book? That’s not say the writing of a book isn’t hard work. Five drafts later and an editorial critique, The Cruelty of Lambs is published by the wonderful Urbane Publications in November 2016 in my 60th year.