My husband and I have recently moved to Warwickshire, which I’m learning is a very pretty county. When we arrived, the lanes were overflowing with wild garlic and bluebells, the fields abundant with new born lambs. The landscape is that lovely green: fresh and translucent, full of the promise of good things to come.
Before living in Warwickshire, I lived in the North of England for twenty-five years. It was a rather long journey (four years) there from the Home Counties, Cambridge, Singapore and then Chicago. I honestly didn’t think I’d settle for long, but I did, and I’m very fortunate to have lived in one of the most beautiful spots in the country.
I met my husband when I was just nineteen – during my first weekend at university, in fact, and we married just after I completed my degree. His job took him abroad (hence living in Singapore and Chicago), and I spent my first years of married life embracing motherhood, learning about Asian food and the wonder of fresh, locally produced ingredients, and all the while trying to squeeze in a bit of writing. It was while living in Singapore that the first seed of my debut novel, The Rain Tree developed. The crumbling buildings and the modern highrises popping up almost overnight seemed to be a metaphor for the social diversity and change in Singapore. This took me on a long search for a good story to epitomise the development of this vibrant country. After extensive research, which involved examining old photographs and documents, as well a visits to the British Library, I eventually found an intriuging event set in the late 1940s to base my novel around, which of course was enhanced by my own experience of having lived there.
I think as a writer it is important to have wide interests, as well as taking time to mull and to let ideas percolate. There are various ways in which I like to do this – people watching in cafés is one, long walks is another. And food! Good food is essential to me, and I love to cook using the best ingredients I can find. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just good quality, simple food. I have taken to growing my own vegetables in our garden – there’s nothing like a tomato warm and juicy straight from the greenhouse, shaking the soil off a crisp lettuce or peeling back a bean pod and nibbling on fresh, succulent beans. I also enjoy travelling, whether at home in the UK or abroad. If I can combine at least two of these three activities, then I’m happy.
I have worked in various capacitites, including teaching and running my own businesses, but for all of that time I really wanted to be a writer. I can remember as a child writing short stories, turning them into little books and illustrating them before gluing the pages together with flour and water paste, or spending hours and hours writing the beginning of a novel or poetry in the library at my boarding school when I should have been doing my homework. It is this need to write and a love of reading that led me to take a degree in English and European Thought and Literature, and later a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. It is during the time completing my Masters that I completed my first novel, The Rain Tree, which is currently with an agent.
I am now working on my second novel. It’s a dual narrative story, and having told myself that I wouldn’t write another story with an historical flavour, it seems that I have ended up writing another!