One day, at a high profile lunch, I was introduced to my idol Jilly Cooper, then a highly successful columnist on the Sunday Times and now an international best-selling author.
My hand trembled as we were introduced. ‘Where are you from?’ she asked pleasantly. ‘The Express,’ I replied. ‘The Daily Express?’ she said. ‘No, I said, suddenly realising my blunder, ‘The Lytham St Annes Express.’
Here is a photo of my husband and our youngest daughter, Chloe, who now has two daughters of her own
By the early 1970s I had qualified as a journalist and was desperate for a change of scenery. I’d got married (I wrote my own wedding report) and had covered every event in the town’s busy social calendar. So I left the local paper and joined a small PR company producing in-house magazines for businesses, here and abroad. I once spent a cold November night in a Portuguese hotel out of season. It was empty, except for the legendary Brian Clough and the entire Derby County football team who were preparing for their match against Benfica the following day.
Sadly, we didn’t even get to shake hands…
Many years later, determined to write a book, I joined a newly formed writers group, First Novelists, who quickly became a lifeline. About eight of us met every fortnight to critique each other’s work-in-progress, sometimes with brutally honest feedback. I survived (just) and completed my first novel but decided it wasn’t good enough for publication. My next project, Sophie’s Secret, was a time slip romance about a young reporter’s desperate search for her GI father. To my surprise the first three chapters were shortlisted for the Festival of Romance New Talent Award in 2012.
New talent, do I hear you whisper? As I’d passed the big 6-0, the joke was not lost on me
Though I didn’t win the award, I spent another twelve months completing the novel. I liked the title Sophie’s Secret but it was not unique in the world of women’s commercial fiction: I needed something that stood out from the rest.
Baggy Pants and Bootees was my husband’s idea – inspired by the nickname given to the American airborne division who carried bulky provisions in the voluminous pockets of their combat trousers.
This is my daughter Chloe with her husband Phil and our granddaughters Millie and Evie taken two years ago
In September 2013 I was offered a publishing contract by a small independent company based in Europe. The e-book was released in February 2014, followed by the paperback later that year. I was thrilled when it reached the top 100 in the military romance category on Amazon, just one step behind Sebastian Faulks!
My second historical romance, Occupying Love, was released in e-book format on June 24 this year. Set in the German Occupation of Guernsey during World War Two the novel is a tale of love, loss and new beginnings. It was inspired by stories I heard from my paternal grandparents’ who were banished their Guernsey home by the Nazis in 1940.
EDITOR: Occupying Love is available to buy from directly from the ad on the website or from Amazon.
Marilyn is very kindly donating a signed copy of Baggy Pants and Bootees for a draw next month. Details will appear on the website. Many thanks Marilyn! This book can be ordered from Amazon.
Part 1 can be found here.