Back in the day, before ever I put pen to paper to write, I used to go to a Keep Fit class. The teacher was an ex ballet dancer called Beryl. Her accent was hard to define….a bit Scottish, a hint of London, a soupcon of English northern regional, a tad Queen Mother, with a thread of American in there for good measure. She’d danced all over the world and seaside Devon wasn’t going to keep her there for long. ‘I never go back,’ she said at her leaving ‘do’. ‘Only forward.’ She never kept in touch with anyone from her travels either. She was a woman happy in her own skin.
But we can’t all be like that, although it doesn’t mean we have to stay in our little ruts either. And especially so when it comes to writing. It’s good to try new things although I know I am never, ever, going to attempt writing paranormal!
I have always said I wouldn’t write about war….there was a part of me that was uncomfortable about making money out of something that was so tragic and devastating to so many, and if I am honest, there still is. So, what have I started writing? Only just that. It was a photo of my father in his Army uniform that did. He was an old romantic, my dad, although not in the hearts and flowers department. He was in Italy during the war and bought the material for my mother’s wedding dress there. My mother – a gifted dressmaker – made the dress and I still have it. She also did her best to teach me how to sew but I hated it. My heroine in the third book of my ‘Emma’ trilogy (currently on my publisher’s desk and awaiting edits) is running an haute couture dressmaking business, so my mother must have drilled something into me as I drag out memories of watching her cutting a pattern from old newspapers and waxing thread to make it stronger. My heroine, Emma, has a French father. Now where did that come from? Ah well, I have the answer to that. When I was thirteen I went on a school exchange to Rouen and during my time there I came to love the French language and Emma speaks French in my trilogy. My past – and my parents’ pasts – is forming my writing future so it seems, even if I don’t always realise it. I don’t know where this new venture will lead me – and at the moment I am writing it for my own satisfaction, using multi-viewpoint which I haven’t used before – but I know I am going to enjoy the journey. As I write it I am seeing again my home as it was in the late 1940s and early 1950s. I can almost smell the blackcurrant jam my mother made every July. And I swear my fingers can feel those flimsy tissue paper garlands we hung up at Christmas, and which I carefully folded back again for re-use.
I have to say here that I am not the sort of person who wallows in the past – I couldn’t tell you the dates, or even the years, that my parents and my much loved aunt and uncle, and various cousins, died but that isn’t to say they are forgotten. And I can see now that they will always be with me in the memories I drag out to put into future works.