I was born in Nottinghamshire, England, but I didn't live there for very long. The family moved to West Yorkshire when I was just eighteen months old and so I have always regarded Yorkshire as my home. I grew up there as the middle child in a family of five—all girls—in a home where books were vitally important and I read anything I could get my hands on.
Even before I could write I was making up stories. My mother tells the story of me recounting the tale of the Three Little Raindrops — Drippy, Droppy and Droopy to my two younger sisters when I was four. I can't remember a time when I wasn't scribbling away at something, and I wrote my first 'book' when I was eleven, an adventure story, most of it in secret in lessons at school—particularly maths lessons, which I hated.
But everyone, particularly teachers and my parents, told me that I would never make a living as a writer, and I should work towards a more secure career. So I decided instead that if I couldn't write books, I could at least work with them and so I settled for becoming a librarian. On leaving school, I went to the University College of Wales Aberystwyth where I studied English and Librarianship for my degree.
More importantly, university was also where I met my husband who was also studying English there. We married and moved back north, eventually settling in Lincolnshire. Here I worked as a children's librarian until I left work when my son was born.
After three years of being a full-time housewife and mother, I was ready for a new challenge, but needed something I could do at home, and so I turned to my old love of writing. My first attempts at novels were written on the kitchen table, often late into the night when my son was asleep or during a few snatched hours when he was out at nursery school.
The first two novels sent off to Harlequin Mills & Boon were rejected, but the third attempt was successful. I can still remember the moment that a letter arrived instead of the rejection slip I had been dreading. I think I must have read it over and over at least a hundred times before the reality of what it said sank in, and for days I kept checking it just to make sure I wasn't dreaming. In 1984, THE CHALK LINE was published just in time to be one of my best Christmas presents ever.
Fitting in hobbies around working and being a wife and mother can be difficult, but I always find time to read. I love all sorts of fiction, especially Romance, obviously. I also enjoy historical novels, detective fiction and long, absorbing biographies about fascinating people and I can spend hours in bookshops just browsing. I enjoy knitting and embroidery, but I rarely get time to do either now that I'm a full-time writer. I also love looking round antique fairs or junk shops, hoping to add to my collection of Victorian embroidery. During my working hours my four cats, all adopted from the RSPCA, usually keep me company in my study, though they have to be dissuaded from sitting on the piles of papers that they are convinced are there just for them.
I love to travel and visit new places, especially places with an interesting history, and I always enjoy visiting old castles or stately homes and imagining how the people who used to live there spent their days.
I'm often asked if I'm a romantic sort of person because I specialise in writing Romances. Well, if being romantic means caring about other people enough to make that extra special effort, then yes, I am. Romance is about making the important people in your life feel valued and letting them know that you care. But I also write about relationships and the difficulties people sometimes have in understanding each other, or expressing affection, or overcoming problems.
Sometimes—when the right words won't come, or an idea hasn't worked out as I'd thought, I wonder why I don't have some regular nine to five job, but when the story's flowing and the characters come alive, I really can't imagine any other way of life. And there's a tremendous satisfaction in knowing that I've proved wrong all those people who told me that I would never make a successful career out of my writing.