|Original cover by historical artist |
20 years ago, in April 1993 I was accepted for publication with my first novel. The Kingmaking.
Dreams do come true - especially when you hit 40 years old - and then 60!
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My earliest memory is feeling down the bottom of the bed with my feet for a pillowcase of Christmas presents; the second memory is coming down the steps of the Junior Library in Walthamstow's High Street in London clutching a Little Grey Rabbit story by Alison Uttley. I was three years old and was thrilled because it was one I hadn't read before.
Now, did that mean I literally had not read it myself, or someone had not read it to me? I have a feeling that I mean the first because I don't remember a time when I didn't read.... Mostly under the covers at night with a torch as I got older.
(How many of us remember doing this after "lights out"?)
I discovered that I could write my own stories when I found the delight of Pony Books.
Another April Celebration, possibly in 1963, because I was about ten when I realised I could fulfil my dream of owning a pony through the pages of Story when I received a copy of Jill's Gymkhana by Ruby Ferguson for a birthday present.
Clear memories of that day!
It was gloriously sunny and I had a birthday party in the garden. I recall it because someone knocked the table over and all the food went on the floor. Mum was so cross (probably harassed, looking back!)
The present, when it was put in my hand caused a down-turned mouth and a scowl. A book. How boring. A scowl which changed to a grim when I opened the parcel.
I don't remember much about the rest of that birthday because I was reading my book. (So thank you Pat Marshal of Chingford, Mum's best friend. You'll never know, now, how much you changed my life.)
I started writing my own stories. I desperately wanted a pony but we couldn't afford one, so I made one up. She was called Tara, a lovely palomino. What a pity I don't have any of those scribblings now. I do recall writing or reading for most of the time - even during school lessons, there must have been dozens of pieces of paper with scrawled handwriting...
My grandfather passed away on, I think, my thirteenth birthday, but I wasn't very close to him and remember feeling aggrieved that he had messed up my day. Poor granddad, and poor Mum, really. How selfish teenagers can be.
21st Birthday. I've still got the Beswick china horses given me, and the signed edition of Epping Forest by J.A. Brimble. Treasures indeed.
30th birthday - that was a good one because I had my lovely daughter, Kathy, by then.
That old "Life Begins at 40!" saying? It's true!
For almost ten years I had been struggling with writing a novel about King Arthur. This was to be the "what might have really happened" version with Arthur rooted firmly in the mid fifth, early sixth century - between the going of the Romans and the coming of the Saxons. No knights in armour. No Holy Grail. No Lancelot, no Merlin, just a warlord who had to fight hard to gain his kingdom, and even harder to keep it.
The boy, who became
The man, who became
The king, who became
The struggle to be published came to fruition soon after my 40th birthday. Around the 16th April I received a phone call from my new agent (now, unfortunately, my ex-agent) "Heinemann are offering you a three book deal. Congratulations."
|Husband Ron, daughter Kathy and myself - |
20 years ago celebrating Publication Day!
It is now Indie published here in the UK by SilverWood Books with superb covers designed by Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphic, and mainstream published in the US with Sourcebooks Inc
If you want to write - stop talking about it, dreaming about it,
thinking about it.
Get on and write it.
Maybe you won't get picked up by an agent or a big publishing house -
but you sure as heck won't be
if you don't get it written in the first place!
And for me, these 20 years later?
It is my 60th birthday tomorrow (13th April). I heard on the radio this morning that the new "Life Begins At" age is now 60.... Well, my life is certainly starting again, because the best birthday present I've ever had came to me early: my new home in Devon, England.
My husband had a modest lottery win on the opening night of the London Olympics. We spent the money on buying a house - our dream life - in the country where we could have land, stables, and beautiful scenery. We found it at Windfall Farm (not its real name, a pseudonym because of Internet Privacy).
You can follow our Escape to the Country* on my Devon Diary Leaning On The Gate. We also have a new dog - Baz, and I am in the procrastination state of starting my next novel - Foals of Epona, the first in the Madoc the Horseman Series; a spin-off story about a character who has a small bit-part in the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy.
So you see, after all these years, I'm still, in a way, writing pony stories....
My thanks to Francine Howarth
for organising the online
an opportunity for authors to tootle their trumpets about their work.
Please visit the link above for more interesting and exciting participants!
I person who left a comment would be chosen to receive a free copy of any of my books - and the winner is....
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