So, I hear you ask, who are you, Sharon? What makes you tick? Well, since you asked so nicely…
I’m a lady of a certain age – which could mean anything, really, and I’m saying nothing more, except I have grown-up children and several young grandchildren. I live with my very patient husband and our German Shepherd dog, and when I’m not writing I’m busy with my job in the NHS. I have a terrible sweet tooth but I’m learning to curb it with the help of WeightWatchers (other diet plans and clubs are available). I absolutely love Doctor Who. I’m a trifle passionate about Sherlock, Poldark, Outlander, and The Musketeers. I’m shamefully prone to crushes on fictional heroes (see previous sentence).
I grew up in Hessle, East Yorkshire, a small town on the outskirts of Hull. In those days, it was a lot more like a village than it is now, and I have very happy memories of living there. Yep, even of school – well, mostly. Primary school was brilliant. Upper High School was fabulous. Let’s draw a veil over the Lower High School years…(awkward age!)
I was a complete bookworm, from a very early age. A beloved next-door-neighbour, moving away to Leeds, gave me a farewell present. I was heartbroken that she was leaving, but when I opened the package to discover a book, my tears quickly dried – such is the fickle nature of youth. My very first book! It was Noddy, by Enid Blyton, and set me on the path I am still following. I couldn’t get enough of books. Luckily, my parents were avid readers, too, and used to take me regularly to the local library, where I’d spend ages browsing the shelves, going home in a state of blissful anticipation at the reading feast ahead of me.
It was only a matter of time before I started writing my own stories. I thought I was about ten when I wrote my first full-length novel of around a hundred pages, but it turns out I was nearer seven. Inspired by the picture stories in my weekly Tammy comic, I created a long and pretty abysmal story about a ballet school. Luckily, all traces of this work of genius have long since disappeared. Still, I continued to write. Encouraged by my English teachers, I wrote long, loooong stories in my exercise books. No three page adventures for me! My homework was split into chapters…
I moved to Hull, got married, and had five children. Not surprisingly, I rarely picked up a pen for years – apart from to make shopping lists. Now and then, I’d feel an urge to write, and would grab a notebook. How many “Chapter Ones” I wrote over the course of twenty or so years I can’t begin to imagine.
Deciding, in my forties, to study for a degree in literature with the Open University, I included a module on creative writing, and was bitten by the bug again. During a car journey to Somerset one day (don’t worry, I wasn’t driving!) I was visited by three characters – which isn’t as spooky as it sounds. I’m not Ebenezer Scrooge, after all, but it’s really the only way I can describe it. I was just daydreaming, and suddenly, there they were. As soon as we reached our holiday destination, I bought a notebook and began to jot down their names, their physical descriptions, and all the things they’d told me about themselves. It had never happened to me before. It was quite an odd experience at the time, although I’ve since learned to take such things in my stride. Those characters eventually became Joe, Lexi and Will, and their stories – among others – developed into the Kearton Bay series.
Determined that they wouldn’t be doomed to fade away, due to yet another abandoned “chapter one”, I signed up for NaNoWriMo, mapped out a plot, scene by scene, and spent the entire month of November writing – completing a first draft of 120,000 words in thirty days. I know! Don’t ask me how I did that! Mind you, it was rubbish. At the time, I thought, wow! I’ve done it! I’ve written a book! Little did I realise that my work was just beginning (or that I’d have to learn to curb those exclamation marks pretty sharpish).
It was two and a half years later before There Must Be An Angel was published. During that time, I’d become a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme, been invited to join the fabulous blogging group, The Write Romantics, set up my own blog, and been lucky enough to be advised and encouraged by many members of the writing community via social media.
Just over two years since the publication of Angel, I am about to release my sixth book, have had a short story published in a charity anthology, Winter Tales, another short story published in The People’s Friend, had one pocket novel printed by DC Thomson and republished in large print by Ulverscroft, and my second pocket novel is to be published in July. I’m also a full member of the RNA. I would never have believed it.
It’s a lot of work, and sometimes it feels as if my life is no longer my own. I have to fit writing in around family (sorry, gang) and my day job (pesky day job) and it’s not always easy. Even so, it’s worth the effort. As Charlotte Bronte, the author of my all-time favourite novel, Jane Eyre, said so beautifully: “I’m just going to write because I cannot help it”.