I began my career winning the Woman’s Own short story competition way back in 1989. That year it was sponsored by Prudential launching a new trust fund, and the awards lunch was at The Dorchester so it was a pretty swanky affair with an amazing panel of judges – Ken Follett, Clare Francis and Antonia Fraser among them. My daughter Kate was just under a year old at the time. i remember being asked ‘what would you normally be doing at this time (1pm) and I said ‘changing a nappy’. So much for projecting a glamorous image! I actually had two stories in the final 10. The winning one was called ‘The Gate’ and I followed the guidelines – a romance. I based the story on my home village of Clutton near Bath which had a coal-mining history.
A dozen years later I was shortlisted for Romantic Novelist of the year with my novel ‘Learning by Heart’. Another lunch – huge – this time at The Savoy. I never think of my work as particularly romantic so this was a surprise, but I admit that the Italian theme – of a lifelong love that never died – was pretty heart-rending. Learning by Heart is in my top 3 favourites of all the books I’ve written.
In summer 2020, I was shortlisted (final 20 out of 1500) for the Bath Short Story Award www.bathshortstoryaward.com with my short story ‘The Kind Mercy of His Madness’. The anthology of the shortlisted writers is published late 2020.