I was born on 9 January 1983, the first of three girls. I can’t remember life without books and Mum tells me I was known to fall asleep as a baby with one on my face. At playgroup they were delighted that I wanted to spend all my time so quietly in the book corner, but my parents insisted they encourage me in other activities too, for it was also all I wanted to do at home. Of the many ways a child could be precocious, I’m pleased that I was an early reader, for it opened my mind at a young age to so many incredible places, eye-opening adventures and amazing characters. I am a rule abider by nature but can remember my main transgression as a child was to creep from my bed and switch the light back on at night because I simply couldn’t fall asleep without knowing what happened next.
I felt a genuine sense of panic aged seventeen when I was told it was time to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had no idea what I ought to do and instead of seeing a world of possibilities before me, I was terrified of picking the wrong option and forever closing the door on my undiscovered destiny. After taking a pop-psych test at school, I was reliably informed that my most compatible career options were lawyer or teacher and so in 2001 I headed to Oxford to begin my degree in law, or as my alma mater would have it, ‘jurisprudence’. I loved my time there, trying to figure out my own identity amongst some incredibly talented people, including my future husband, but I’m afraid that my degree took rather a back-seat to love and heartbreak, friendship and fun.
There was a typical undergraduate rush to indulge in free canapés and drinks as the law firms came to court us, and it was easy to be swept up in the excitement and competition of securing a job offer, which I duly did, signing up for a Magic Circle firm at the end of my second year, ready to start work in September 2005. City life was a buzz and once again I found myself surrounded by charismatic, astute, ambitious people, working until the small hours during the week and spending cosy weekends as a newly-wed fixing up our first home, a maisonette at the end of the Metropolitan Line.
Our lives marched on; my husband finished his doctorate and started work developing software for medical imaging and clinical trials, and my career progressed, specialising in pensions law, a technical area that is far more interesting than it sounds, though best skirted over swiftly if you want people to talk to you at parties. We moved back to the suburbs where I had grown up and had three bright, strong and kind daughters of our own. Our lives were a source of daily contentment for us, but of very little note to anybody else. We put down roots and grew into our role as the bedrock of a small family.
Many people imagine themselves writing a novel and I counted myself among them for many years, suppressing the urge and assuming it to be folly. In early 2017, in the fading weeks of my third maternity leave, I finally decided it couldn’t hurt to give it a go, for it had bubbled away in my mind for so long, it needed to be released, even if only for my own relief.
I opened a spreadsheet and plotted the key story arches, sketched out my characters and wrote the history and geography of another world. Then I opened a blank document and started to write. The threads of story and the little character quirks I had spent my life collecting, started to come together. And I fell in love. And much like romantic love, once you’ve had a taste of the real thing, you can’t settle for anything less. And so, on 17 October 2017, I left my stable, sensible and lucrative job to focus on my first novel. I cried on my last day; after twelve years it was a wrench to leave behind many fantastic colleagues and clients. But I have finally found that passion I was afraid of closing the door on aged seventeen. Every day I’m writing, reading, editing or daydreaming about a world of my own creation. And I can’t wait to share it with you.