I have been coerced by the incredibly bossy, plausible, funny and lovely Alison May to take part in the Lovely Blog Hop. Since it is Easter this weekend, I am considering making it a Bunny Hop instead. I am supposed to be talking about the things which have helped to make me the person and writer I am today… but I’d much rather talk about Easter during the Regency. Oh well, since I know she’ll check up on me, here goes!
I’m not sure if it is a first memory, but certainly one of my earliest memories is visiting the home of my mother’s oldest friend. They were WAFS together and went on cycling holidays, long before the ties of marriage and families. We children were playing hide and seek, as I remember, and I went upstairs. It was a lovely, big, old house, with rambling corridors and hundreds of rooms – or so it appeared to my childish eyes. It was a wonderful place to explore, with lots of nooks and crannies to hide in and to appeal to a lively imagination. Who knows, perhaps that house started me on my love of old houses and seeded the ideas of hidden rooms and secret places where a vampire might hide during the daylight hours!
Right from the days of ‘Tip and Mitten’ and ‘Green Eggs and Ham’, I have loved books. I avidly read Peter Rabbit and the Cottontail bunnies, Jemima Puddle-duck and Tom Kitten and my favourite, Mrs Tiggywinkle. I devoured Enid Blyton books, whether Mystery, Famous Five, Mallory Towers or Secret Seven. When younger, I loved The Naughtiest Girl, Noddy and Mr Twiddle. There was a wonderful book called ‘The Gauntlet’, by Ronald Welch, which introduced me to medieval history, to knights and how they lived. That little book lived on in my memory into adulthood. I discovered Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels in my early teens, precipitating a lifelong love of both the era and her stories. Then there were vampire romances and shape shifters, Harry Potter (the early ones), classics such as Jamaica Inn and Lorna Doone, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Elizabeth Chadwick’s fabulous medieval novels. So many wonderful books and so many I have yet to discover.
I am a sucker for libraries, bookshops, market stalls, in fact anywhere where there are books. I cannot keep out of them! I was brought up on a diet of books. There were always books in our house and I had my own choice from the library as well. I would have books from the school library in addition to ones from the public library. I spent a vast part of my formative years with my nose in a book and soon ran through the suitable stock, which I found frustrating. In those days I could remember things with almost photographic clarity.
Morecambe Library was a bookworm’s paradise. Each group of subjects had their own section, almost a separate room. There were hundreds and hundreds of books. I could have moved in and never come out again! Upstairs, there was an enormous Reference Library where you could discover just about everything about any subject you cared to name – or that was how I remember it. Memories are funny old things, so it could be playing tricks on me, but I don’t suppose there were too many small-town libraries in the pre-digital age where you could have found a book by a genuine Cheyenne warrior!
What is your passion?
For the whole of my life, from the age of about four, I have been mad about horses. I read anything I could put my hands on which was about horses. I used to ‘groom’ the dog with a clothes brush and ‘tack her up’ with a cushion and a belt. I watched horsey programmes and of course, I devoured pony stories by the dozen. My grandfather was a horseman – it was ‘in the blood’. That passion has given me some wonderful experiences over the years. Nowadays, however, it seems to have cooled a little as my love of writing has pushed its way to the fore.
Junior school was all right, Secondary school okay until the sixth form. I was a model student but not particularly academic and enough was enough. The careers advice was rather less than helpful – I seem to remember saying I wanted to work with animals and the suggestion was ‘dairy farming’! I did a secretarial course at college and hated it; working part-time at a Veterinary surgery was far more to my liking. Then I got the chance to train and work in a riding school and I had found my niche. Learning about horses was right up my alley and I loved it. Spending hours collating information and notes for my course folders was a pleasure, not a chore. I rifled through equestrian magazines for pictures to illustrate my text… Strangely, now I rifle through magazines for pictures to illustrate my character profiles!
I had dabbled in writing from a very young age, but with no serious intent until my neighbour dragged me to a WI talk given by the exceedingly lovely Sue Johnson. I attended her writing courses (and still do when I can) and the rest, as they say, is history. I cannot thank her enough for believing in me and inspiring me.
As I said above, I had written stories and weaved them in my head from the time I learned to read. My mother, in her varied teaching career, had taught English, so grammar was instilled from childhood. I was a voracious reader and absorbed much of my knowledge that way. I write by instinct rather than by somebody else’s ‘rules’. I write the type of books I like to read and I still read as much as I can. I love Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels and they have certainly influenced my writing. I’ve learned so much from Sue Johnson (you can visit her at her website, http://www.writers-toolkit.co.uk ) and as with most things, you never stop learning about writing. I am a member of writing groups and I read writing magazines. Other authors are a fount of knowledge and my friends have been of enormous help on my journey to publication.
Well done if you have made it this far! Thank you for joining me and I have the pleasure to pass the baton on to fellow ‘Beaux, Ballrooms and Battles’ author, the lovely Victoria Hinshaw. Visit her at http://www.victoriahinshaw.com/victorias-vibes----a-blog
My other victim – I mean, fellow blog-hopper – is the aforementioned and wonderful Sue Johnson!