I grew up in sixties Salford, weaned on Hobson's Choice, Love on the Dole and Shelagh Delaney. Then I discovered Joyce, Eliot, romanticism and Hardy, conceived aspirations and went off to Nottingham to study English Literature. Eager to share what I'd learnt, and pretty keen to earn some money, I did a PGCE at Manchester University and went back to school. After a few years teaching in Leeds, we came up to the north-east in 1988 and put down roots.
For twenty years, I poured all my creativity and best ideas into teaching English. Since escaping the classroom to do a Masters in Information and Library Management and then working in a school library for ten years, I've slowly recovered my mojo.
When I realised that in 2011 it was fifty years since I'd first started school, I decided it was time to leave and do what I’d always wanted to do – write a novel.
We all have moments when we realize that life’s a short business, and for me, the deaths in the same year of my mum and my close friend Trish Bell brought that into sharp focus. As Carol Ann Duffy put it so beautifully in ‘Snow’:
‘ what will you do now
with the gift of your left life?’
Both my heroines are strong middle-aged women. For Annie, her child-rearing is done, her marriage is a sham, and she has been thinking about ‘the gift of her left life.’ For Mary Eleanor, peace has come at last and she's able to reflect on her life while she tells the dramatic tale of what she has endured and survived.
My first book is dedicated to Jane Nicholson (formerly Evans) who died in September 2013, just two months before publication. It was because of Jane that I stopped talking about writing a novel and went ahead and did it: as she memorably said, 'JFDI!' She was a real redhead, a great and much-loved friend, and I miss her.