I first discovered romance novels when I was just 10. We were on holiday and I read all my books in 5 days, my mother's in the next 3 (put me off Eveleyn Waugh and Iris Murdoch for life!). Then, in the sitting room of our rented villa I found two Mills & Boon. I don't remember the names or authors but I do know that one involved a sheikh. I was transported, read them twice then again. Four years later a friend's mother introduced me to Georgette Heyer and a literary love affair was born; she is still my go-to writer in times of illness and stress (along with Anne Shirley, natch). Over the years I have proved fickle, These Old Shades replaced in my affection by sequel Devil's Cub, Cotillion suddenly a forerunner after years of neglect, but the Grand Sophy, Arabella and Regency Buck remain much loved,much read favourites.
Four years after that, post A-level I wiled away long, hot summer's afternoons with a large pile of M&B and dreamt of writing my own, one day. A dream that began with a piece of A-Level coursework to write our own first pages in the style of Jane Austen. I got an A* and a vocation. A vocation unfulfilled and one I am only really beginning to try, late teens and twenties filled with uni, career building and socialising and my only thirties with childcare - although I did do a lot of research and even submitted a fairly awful three chapters (lots of plot, all secondary characters and no emotional conflict, other than that it was quite good!).
I have been asking myself 'Why?'. Why have I put myself through the stressful, self doubt inducing hell of New Voices? Why on earth do I want to be a writer, a romance writer anyway? Surely any sane woman would concede that a job, child, voluntary work and constant guilt about a shambolic house was enough for anyone? OK, it's all I have ever wanted but why?
I am a reader, voracious, completely indiscriminating, gluttonous reader. Any genre, any quality I have read it all. And I can put a sentence together in a not unpleasant way. And I daydream, constantly. Other people have ipods, I have stories in my head to occupy me as I walk, drive, eat, fall asleep - any time I am not working or reading. Do these qualities add up to a writer? In my confident teens I certainly thought so, I knew for sure one day I would be published. In my much less confident thirties it all seems a lot less certain, but I am going to try my damnedest to make it happen.