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dear helen

romantic writing
When i read my first book, i started writing my first book.
I have never not been writing.

Gore Vidal

Imagination is a gift, which I am lucky to possess. When I was a child, it was my escape from the loneliness I suffered in the real world and, later, became my path to success as an adult. I, too, have read books and written stories from when I was very small. In fact, I wrote my first long story at seven years old, sitting on a hill overlooking the country cottage where I was born. I don't remember having read any science fiction at that time, but my story was about a visit to earth by aliens and was accompanied by drawings of little green men! If you like science-fiction then read my recently published short-story 1033 And All That.

My Grandfather - click to enlargeI grew up in Dunhampstead, a tiny village in the middle of England. Our pretty cottage stood by a canal and had been bought by my grandfather, who had come to work for the Galtons, an aristocratic family, who lived in a stately home two miles away. My grandmother was a tailoress, who worked for the big house too. My mother remembers being taken there as a child, in a carriage with two coachmen attending. Her job was to read books to the daughter of the house, Miss Emily.

My Mother - click to enlargeLater, my mother worked as chief reader at a famous printing factory, and used to bring her work home with her at night to earn more money. I thought she had the best job in the world - reading all day. I didn't understand what a hard job it was for her to look for all the mistakes and correct them. When I was older, I used to help her by reading to her out loud. Our house was full of books and my first memory is sitting in my high chair, turning over galley pages! So I was brought up with books and have always loved them.

At eleven, I won a scholarship to a private school, but only made a few friends there as my upbringing was very different from the other girls, who were mostly wealthy. However, I shone academically. I loved school and hoped to take a degree but ill-health forced me to drop out. I took a job as a library assistant instead and my first writing success came at the age of 20 when I had a poem read on the BBC programme, Midland Poets. I can still remember my excitement as I read that small review in the local newspaper, praising my poem, Mists of the Morning. You can read the poem too if you click on the link.

Marriage brought me three children, but like my mother, I had no luck with men! Realising my marriage wasn't working, I studied privately while the children were small. Most of my academic work was done at night when the children were in bed, or in the early morning before I went to work. During that time, I worked as a secretary, a carer and a home help! Three years later, I gained an Honours Degree in English and followed it by a Master's Degree. I remember studying for my Master's while I was doing the ironing with my book propped up in front of me. After that, I trained to be a English teacher, a job I loved but only managed to do for ten years, owing to health problems. And, all this time, I kept on writing, completing three novels, none of which were ever published! They are still in my files! Finally, I had to retire from teaching on ill-health grounds, but I still had the mortgage to pay, my children to support and to care for my mother, whose health was failing too!

After this I realised I had to find another source of income and turned to writing romance. In 1983, I sent off a story to a national magazine and it was taken first time! This was later published in book form as Tides of Love. It was soon followed by a serial in another magazine - then another! Since then I have had many novels published and hope to have many more! I also write under two pen names: Aisling Byrne and Liberty Brett.

Times were hard and my children were growing. But they were all clever and won scholarships. I kept on selling to the magazines but began writing long novels. I joined the Romantic Novelists Association and learned a lot more about writing, agents and publishers! I also joined Mensa, the high IQ society, where I met a TV producer, whose interest in my first 'big' novel, Two for a Lie, the love story of the Princess Caraboo, was to change my life. Although my particular story never made it to the small screen, the publicity surrounding the movie about the fake Princess from Devon, starring Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline was good for my book.

Book Signing at Harrods - click to enlargePavarotti at Harrods - click to enlarge

I still live just outside historic Worcester. My children are grown up and the early promise they showed has culminated in high-flying careers. Books and reading remain one of the important things in my life. I write for several hours every day and do my own research. I may have written 20+ books, but I am still looking for the best-seller and believe every one I write will be the one. If I do not write for two weeks, I am plagued by vivid dreams. I have also learned a lot about myself through writing and my advice to anyone who aspires to being an author, is, 'Keep motivated in spite of the disappointments of rejection and one day your talent will be recognised.. Just keep on writing!'.

I have some time for leisure too! I travel when my health allows. I was recently in New York staying with my youngest daughter, which I enjoyed a lot. I meet friends and go to the gym regularly. I still have a few private pupils and I paint in watercolours, which is very relaxing.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Stratford-Upon-Avon - click to enlargeWith my background, how could I help being a novelist and sharing my thoughts and feelings with others? Like many authors, my life experiences, good and bad, have influenced my books. I use my imagination now to write about how beautiful romance can be with the right person, when you finally find happiness after pain. What I want to convey in my books is that tears can change to laughter; that whatever tragedies occur, life goes on, as does Love.

Stratford-on-Avon is not very far from Worcester, so what could be better than to end my biography with another quotation from Shakespeare himself.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom:-
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

If you have read any of my books and enjoyed them. I would love to hear from you.

Piper
The Piercing