I was born in the mid 1960s in Somerset to a wonderfully optimistic and very young, hippy couple who were both artists and dreamed of living the good life. My mother wove fabric to make our clothes. My father was a potter and made all our cups and bowls and plates. We didn’t have any money but we ate off pretty plates and my clothes were unusual to say the least.
When I five years old, we moved to a small fishing village in Essex and my memories of childhood are of shingle beaches and mudflats, grey-green heather colouring the wide salt marshes that surrounded the village, and the never ending call of seagulls.
We collected samphire off the marshes and dug for cockles at low tide. We gathered mussels and razor clams, winkles and oysters. My father bought a boat and took me with him on fishing trips.
I learnt about the tides’ ebb and flow and the moon’s effect on them. I laughed at tourists who parked their cars by the quay where the incoming tide always flooded the road waist high, the water finally receding at the boatyard where the locals parked their cars.
And then aged ten, I turned my back on the sea and fell in love with books. My parents opened a second hand book shop and our home filled up with cardboard boxes full of books. There were four of us children by then and my elder brother and I were left to care for our younger siblings while our parents ran the shop. My brother sat in his room playing guitar. My younger brother and sister watched TV for hours on end and I rummaged through cardboard boxes full of books and read and read and read. I think it was then that I decided I wanted to be a writer.
Many years later, with two children of my own and a long line of jobs under my belt, I finally decided to follow my dream. I took an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and started to write seriously. After that, I followed another dream, this time my husband’s. We moved to south west France to live. I thought I would finally have the time to write my novel but we bought a wreck of a house and I spent the first few years of our new life mixing concrete. We also had to learn French, settle our daughters into French school and deal with the ups and downs of a new life miles away from friends and family.
Finally though, we did it. We all learned French and we did all settle in and make a real home here. And I finished the novel…