Why do I write?
"What good is love if it is not shared?" (from "This Bitter Earth" by Dinah Washington)
Writing - like love - is nothing if it is not shared. Even the most private diary has an audience - an other to whom it is addressed. To write is to make words flesh, to take them out of the realm of private thoughts, fears and imaginings and to offer them to the world as an incarnate love offering. Like love, writing makes us vulnerable and exposes us in ways we would rather keep hidden. It sometimes goes wrong and brings disappointment and a sense of betrayal. To write is to reach out in trust to an unknown other with a yearning to communicate and to be understood, knowing that one might be rejected. But the ecstacy of communion is always worth the risk of rejection." (From my website)
My earliest school reports complained that I was a daydreamer. When I learned to write, I escaped the domestic turbulence of a passionate family by sitting on my bedroom floor writing stories. When I started secondary school, I perfected the art of reading a novel under the desk and covering it with my skirt when the teacher came to check on what I was doing. Those three forms of secret childhood escape from tedium and turbulence - daydreaming, writing and reading - have finally become the gifts I accept as the person I'm called to be!
I've always written fiction, but deciding to self-publish felt like stepping naked into the world. I'd published several academic monographs and popular non-fiction books as well as many articles and book chapters, but outing myself as a novelist was daunting. My novel "The Good Priest" was published in 2019 by independent publishers Matador and has been well-reviewed on Amazon, GoodReads and elsewhere, which helped to overcome some of that initial reluctance and dread. My second novel "Between Two Rivers" will be published later this year, also by Matador.
My parents left postwar Scotland in the early 1950s to start a new life as young newly weds in Lusaka, then Northern Rhodesia. I spent much of my early life in Africa - Zambia, Kenya and Zimbabwe - and moved to Bristol in 1988 with my husband Dave and our four small children. Having left school at 15 with a clutch of "O" levels, I went to the University of Bristol to do a degree in Theology and Religious Studies as a mature student in 1991 - the year our youngest child started school.
As well as reading and writing, I love cinema, opera, ballet, good food in good company, and wild swimming. My imagination is nurtured by much in the Catholic sacramental tradition, but I spend more time wrestling on the margins of that tradition than feeling I truly belong within it.
Like many in our postcolonial world, I have a nomadic soul. The idea of home eludes me, as do ideas of patriotism and belonging. I belong only in the margins, but those marginal spaces are surely the home of imagination, writing and creativity. For me, to write means living on the edge, being an observer, inhabiting possible worlds, offering myself to characters who choose to live within me for a while in order to tell their stories through me. The most interesting writing is often done in the margins.