I guess that’s quite a startling statement for someone about to see her debut novel published, so maybe I should clarify. What I really mean is that I never intended to be a writer; it was never in my life plan. If you had asked me at age five what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would probably have answered “a pony” or “a puppy”.
By age eight a huge dose of reality had kicked in and I’d realized that the chances of me actually becoming a pony or a puppy were distressingly low. I then turned my ambitions toward the next best thing – owning a pony or a puppy, and preferably one of each. Reality was prodding me in the back even then though, because deep down I knew my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a pony. Life plan revision number two – could my ambition run to a puppy?
The answer was yes, although not until I was much older. The horse-ownership dream also became reality later in life, but that is a story for another post. The point I am ramblingly trying to make is that although the idea of serious writing didn’t enter my head until the boring necessities of finding a paying job and somewhere to live had been taken care of, some small seeds of Fantasy had clearly been sprinkled over the fertile soil of my mind, even at the tender age of five.
If I didn’t set out to become a writer, I hear you ask, then how did the nine-novel Artesans of Albia fantasy series come about? The answer is twofold – Fortune and Boredom.
Fortune came in the shape of my geologist/geophysicist husband, who works as a consultant in the oil and gas industry. The company employing him back in the early Nineties were opening an exploration office in Italy, and they needed his skills. Oh bother, I thought, I’m going to have to give up my thrilling and fulfilling job in the British Civil Service and live in Italy for three years. How ever am I going to cope? I don’t, of course, intend to relate the full tale of those three years – suffice it to say that we had a wonderful time, loved the country, and still have a passion for pasta and pizza.
Now to the Boredom.
I’d given up my job of thirteen years when we left for Italy and when we returned to the UK, I didn’t immediately look for another. This left ample time for thinking and daydreaming – a dangerously creative state for me. Although I’d never done much serious writing out of school, I was always imagining little scenarios and acting them out in my head whenever I was bored. One in particular was born after I’d watched a children’s TV series which ran in the 1970s. Some of you might remember it – it was called “Tarot, Ace of Wands.” The scenario that took shape within my mind had its roots in a question that occurred to me during one episode: Supposing you were born with a glorious power but didn’t have the knowledge to use it. Who would you turn to? This question, and the scenario it gave rise to, eventually became the premise behind King’s Envoy – and ultimately, the entire Artesans of Albia series.