Originally there was no trigger. Writing was (and is) something that is part of me. I’ve invented stories for as long as I can remember, and started writing when I was eight or nine.
I scribbled my first stories in an exercise book and used characters from my favourite school stories by Enid Blyton and pony stories by Ruby Ferguson. From these I moved on to original stories about the characters who lived my head. School, pony or theatre stories. I was stage-struck in my early teens, and wrote several plays which we performed with my Girl Guide group. I now shudder when I think of some of them!
In my mid-teens, my stories were written for my friends, and were usually about anyone we happened to have a crush on at the time. I’d probably be sued for libel if any of those stories saw the light of day. I’m not sure if fan-fiction had been invented back in the 50’s, but essentially that was what I was doing.
I wrote all the time. Not just stories, but long letters to my friends and a detailed diary. I simply wrote. It was as natural to me as breathing.
Writing fiction took a backseat during my university days, there simply wasn’t the time. I started teaching, got married and had a baby. When my baby daughter was asleep in the afternoons, I started writing fiction again. In longhand on paper, with all the crossings-out and tearing up of sheets of paper which that involved. I wrote a novel, an extended version of one of my teenage stories (with names changed, of course!). At the time, I had no intention of submitting it anywhere, I was simply writing for myself. Maybe it was my escape from baby-talk, bottles and nappies. I decided to submit it to Mills and Boon and it was accepted. Two more novels followed, and several short stories for magazines.
My writing became more spasmodic when a demanding teaching career and bringing up two daughters as a single parent took all my time and energy. I still wrote articles, but abandoned fiction/romance writing. I felt that I had lost my muse.
What triggered my return to romance writing? Three words – ‘The West Wing’. I was totally addicted to the TV series, found online groups about 3 years ago, and also discovered fan-fiction. After a discussion with an ‘internet friend’ about the characters in the show, I started writing a story, originally just for her. It was supposed to be a short story, but once I started I couldn’t stop. My muse had returned. My friend persuaded me to post it online and I continued to write West Wing stories.
The next trigger came with a chance meeting with a best-selling Harlequin writer when I was on an American Civil War battlefields tour in 2007. She encouraged me to start writing novels again.
Since then I’ve completed two which are currently with Mills & Boon and Harlequin, and I’m working on a third.