The pic above was taken at the launch of my first book, WORKING GIRLS – it’s still one of the happiest days of my working life. Below is the story of how and why I became an author.
It’s all about the words. I love them: the way they sound, the way they look, the thoughts and emotions they inspire and evoke, the journeys they take us on. They’re the main means by which we communicate and connect with the world and people around us. What’s not to love?
My broadcasting career was all about the words, but I always wanted to write fiction mainly because I love reading it so much. I always have: my father taught me to read before I went to school. On my first day, a seriously impressed headmistress led me by the hand from classroom to classroom where I had to read out loud to all the other kids. Great way to make friends. Not.
But a sign of things to come…
After starting my career in journalism as a newspaper reporter, I joined BRMB in Birmingham in what were the early days of commercial radio. My job description back in those non-PC years was Newswoman!
I had no worries about that – it was great to be on board during such pioneering, exciting times. I can’t believe that not long ago I went to a party to mark the station’s fortieth anniversary!
Anyway after a steep learning curve at Alpha House, I moved to Pebble Mill where I joined BBC TV News and Current Affairs as a broadcast journalist.
Despite my less than delirious expression in the pic, I enjoyed my time there enormously. I must have: I stayed almost twenty years in various posts including reporter, presenter and producer.
I also worked in London briefly in the early eighties as a presenter on Newsnight. (And, no, I can’t believe I looked like this, either!)
Back in the Midlands, I became the BBC’s first woman AEN (assistant editor news) outside London.
I loved producing live news but still had a burning ambition to become an author. I resigned and became a freelance journalist only to spend most of my time writing fiction.
It took eight years, four unpublished books and a string of rave rejections before realising my dream with a publishing contract for WORKING GIRLS. (That’s no cliche, btw, I often had dreams where I saw my novels on the shelves in bookstores.)
Have to say that seeing, touching and smelling my first book in print is one of the happiest professional experiences of my life. I love how the cover’s changed over the years.
As well as the journalism, I also used to do occasional voice-over work. It’s that reading aloud thing again. As was my role with the Birmingham Talking Newspaper for the Blind. For a time I joined forces – and voices – with the wonderful teams of volunteers across the city who work on the project. It was a joy to be involved and I’m hoping to return to the fold soon.
These days – pretty much – when I’m not I’m not writing, I’m reading. If I’m doing neither, I’ll probably be round a table enjoying good food, fine wine and the company and conversation of friends. Some of those friends are former BBC colleagues, and a while back we held a reunion. The wine flowed – as did the words.
Walking, word games and people-watching are among my likes. My loves include coffee, cats, current affairs, crosswords, cricket and Cornwall. Oh, and crime fiction.
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