Friday, July 31, 2009
Why Do I Write?
I write because I must I suppose. I was a voracious reader from a young child and my head was full of other people that filled the stories that I made up in my head and wrote down as soon as I could. But for many years life got in the way of my pursuing this. I had a full time and very demanding job teaching, four children to bring up and a home to run and I told myself, like many others, that would write when I had more time to myself. Then in 1990 an operation to my spine went wrong and suddenly my teaching life came to an end and I was in a wheelchair and set to remain there for life, according to the doctors. We moved from Sutton Coldfield to North Wales in 1993 where we could afford to buy a larger house that could be converted to accommodate not only my husband and myself in a wheelchair but also my two young daughters who moved with us. The conversion were completed by the following year. Now I had all the time in the world, more time really that I wanted and I began to write in earnest. I was still coming to an acceptance of my disability then and the restriction this would impose on me as a person, as a teacher and a mother and and writing I believed saved my sanity, or if that is a little too dramatic at the very least stopped me feeling sorry for myself. I tried writing books first for the poor inner city children I had taught before my accident, then short stories for adults. I heard about the Romantic Novelist's Society when I won a year's subscription as second prize in a writing competition for Valentine's Day in 1995. And I found that this organisation does a unique thing in that it runs The New Writer's Scheme where, for a small fee, unpublished writers can post off their manuscripts for critical analysis once a year. I duly wrote and send off my first manuscript, which they said was good, but not good enough but, most important of all, the reader said why it wasn't. So armed with that critque I wrote and submitted another. This one they said was too long and if I lost 40,000 words I should then send it to Headline. I did just as they said and Headline took the book in 1997 and offered me a two book contract and I found out that the books I was writing were called Sagas. I ended up writing four books with Headline before moving to Harper Collins in 2001 and my tenth book with them will be published in Jan 2010. The last four books, "A Sister's Promise", "A Daughter's Secret", "A Mother's Spirit", the latest book and was out in March of this year and the one yet to be published, "The Child Left Behind" are all part of a series. They all stand alone in that each one is a complete story but they tell the individual stories of members of a family called Sullivan who come from Donegal in Ireland and end up in Birmingham and of course because they are a family their lives do intermingle at times. This theme of linking Ireland and Birmingham is a common one in my books and it is because though I was born and reared in Birmingham ,my parents were both from the North of Ireland, Donegal and Fermanagh and I was brought up steeped in that rich, Irish, Roman Catholic, culture and consider myself an Irish Brummie. As I began to write these stories of The Sullivan's, a miracle occurred in my own life which I suppose could be construed as a story all on its own. In late July 2006 I regained feeling and moment in my legs totally confounding the doctors. I didn't leap out of my wheelchair with a cry of Eureka and dance a jig you understand. I had been 16 years in a wheelchair and my body complained that it had to hold me up at all, let alone that I was attempting to walk about. It took about nine hard and often painful months as I journeyed into world of the able bodied and even then I wasn't walking really well. But I kept at it, walking my dog every day and continuing to exercise in other ways and now I can honestly say that life really doesn't get any better than this.