Writing about myself is an interesting exercise. I usually am writing about my characters who have far more interesting lives than mine. I've given this bio some headings to keep my ramblings under control and to allow you, the reader, to select which bits you may want to read.
My Life in a nutshell
I was born in Richmond, Surrey in England, a delightful town on the River Thames. Ice skating was a sport that brought my parents together and they skated into a long and sometimes turbulent life. My dad was a carpenter, but in the post war days life was tough and we were poor. My earliest memory is of our tiny one bedroom flat. We had a bath under the kitchen counter and a toilet down the hallway stairs. My aunt and uncle lived in the basement flat so we shared their lovely garden and their numerous pets.
When I was a baby my older sister had polio and was in hospital for several years. Thanks to Guy's hospital she survived and learned to walk again. Therapy involved long walks everyday in Richmond Park and I think it was the start of my love of wild places and nature.
My family increased with two younger brothers and we all moved to South Australia when I was twelve. I was nervous about starting a new school but was fortunate to meet a group of girls who became lifelong friends and are now readers of my stories and books.
It took me many years to appreciate the dry beauty of Australia after being immersed in the lush, green countryside of England. But, I have learned to appreciate the vibrant colours of the landscape and the endless blue of the summer sky.
School in Australia was disappointing. In England I enjoyed art and history but could only choose one or the other in my Australian High School. I chose art, but then got streamed into a higher-grade class that swamped me with maths, physics and chemistry. I left school at sixteen but did manage passes in English, art and biology.
A variety of boring and poorly paid jobs took me through to my late teens. I experimented with boyfriends, accomodation and jobs but my life was going nowhere. At twenty I received a scholarship to complete Year 12 and go to university.
Adult Matriculation was wonderful. I enrolled for European History, Australian History, Classical Studies, Art and Biology. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and passed with good grades.I was given the choice of Librarian or Social Work. I chose Social Work to avoid having to work with the new fangled computers. It has been a lifelong regret as I love books but Social Work has given me tremendous insights into people and I use this in my fictional characters.
I met my wonderful husband Peter, a student from Singapore, and we married and have been married ever since. Peter supported me while I studied as the scholarship was short lived and measly anyway. I qualified as a Social Worker in 1980.
Social Work is a difficult profession but I consider it a privilege to have met and gained an understanding of people who have experienced trauma, violence, grief, inequality, addictions and mental and physical illness. People are amazingly resilient and stoic and it was a real honour to help where I could. My career was in emergency work but I focused on mental health in my later career. I gained post-graduate qualifications in addictions and Mental Health Science in 2005 and spent my last years working as a behavioural therapist.
A Lifetime of Art
I have always loved art but a career, marriage and a wonderful little boy got in my way until I had some spare time in my late thirties. I found a flyer advertising watercolour lessons with artist Gillian Long. Gillian painted finely detailed scenes of the undergrowth of the Australian bush and lovely garden flowers. Her style and colours captivated me and I wanted to paint in a similar way.
Gillian insisted I sketch leaves, twigs and apples for six months in order to hone my skills for composition and capturing light. I then moved onto colours and learned brush strokes, colour mixing and other techniques. She also taught the necessity of the best quality paper, brushes and paints. My confidence grew slowly but I eventually started to exhibit and sell my work.
Art was meditation for me. An escape from a busy and sometimes stressful career and life. I'm a slow detailed artist and would never make a liveable income from art, but it is more than a hobby.
In 2014 I joined the Marion Art Group, a collective of about fifty fabulous artists. We exhibit regularly and sell paintings. It's a wonderful compliment when someone purchases your art. I usually paint botanic watercolours and the odd critter just for a change. In recent years I've explored oils (too slow and messy) pastels (much too messy) and acrylics (just right). Landscapes are my new passion and I'm learning to capture the bush in a challenging new medium.
My writing life
Writing is something that has always seemed beyond my capability. I wrote stories and poems as a child but could never spell and grammar was like a foreign language. I struggled through university with good ideas and help from my more literate friends, but I thought I would never write for pleasure.
My mothers joined a writer's group and enjoyed writing humorous short stories. She encouraged me to give it a try. So I joined a writers group and wrote some short stories, poems and essays, even got a couple published, but I wanted more. I wrote my first novel on an electric typewriter with a spell checker. Bliss. The novel was set in the Australian gold rush and had a strong romantic storyline. I joined the South Australian Writer's Centre and found a group of budding novelists and wrote 180,000 words in two years. I passed the first draft over to another group member for a critique. The feedback was brutal, and probably justified. Heartily discouraged, I slipped the massive tome into a bottom draw and gave up all thoughts of becoming a novelist.
Retirement allowed me to travel, paint and read a lot of books, but it wasn't enough. I joined the Woodcroft Writer's Group and wrote short stories, essays and poems. Oh, the joys of writing on a computer and the feedback I got from the group members helped me get over my fear of writing a novel. I could do this.
I have written two historical novels and I'm completing a third. I have always been a fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer and the Regency era appealed. It is a era of social change, political turmoil, the beginnings of universal and female suffrage and new ideas. It also has polite manners, romantic gestures and fabulous fashion. My second novel is currently being appraised by a publisher and the first is entered into a competition. They will both be published in 2023 and my third novel in 2024.
As I incorporate touch of romance in my novels I just snuck into the Romance genre and joined the Romance Writers of Australia. This organisation gives aspiring authors support, information and encouragement and organises fabulous conferences. They run competitions that provide excellent feedback.
I am also involved in a self-publishing collective, Indiescriptorium.com and belong to a critique group Create/Write. Both groups are high energy and great fun and provide wonderful opportunities to get feedback and improve my writing. I am enjoying the writing experience and look forward to bringing my work to readers with this website.
Here I will let people know of forthcoming releases of my novels and art exhibitions. I also intend to produce a blog in 2023. I will post some short stories, poems and my art works for your perusal. I hope you will enjoy my website. It is not an easy thing to design and put together but I am proud to have given it a go.
My life is busy, creative and wonderful. Please enjoy my life with me and enjoy my creative offerings too.