I started writing as a child in World War Two, and have barely stopped since. Much of it has been as a travel writer for major UK newspapers and magazines. More recently I have returned to my first love of writing fiction and have self-published several novels, two anthologies of short stories, and a true adventure (The Big Muddy – a canoe journey down the Mississippi with my late husband).
A recurrent theme has been the effect of war on the children and grandchildren of participants (as in my trilogy ‘Another Kind of Loving’, ‘Beyond the Broken Gate, and ‘Long Shadows; and, more recently, ‘The Other Side of Silence’). Reconciliation is also a recurrent theme as is my belief that it is better to be part of the cure than part of the problem. My first attempt at a YA novel deals with the problem of addiction. ‘It’ll be Better Tomorrow’ is my most recently anthology and puts the matter of aging in a positive light.
I currently have two further projects in my mind. One is yet another anthology, this time venturing into the world of semi-fantasy and parallel universes. The other is concerned with the growing problem of dementia in what is a massively increasing number in our aging population in the UK (and probably the world). Having cared for a husband with mild dementia, with all the humour and frustrations that go with short term memory loss, I am also keenly aware that beneath the illness remains a very worthwhile companion and friend. His long term memory remained phenomenal and has led me to create a new type of hero for my next book: a man with mild dementia who provides the solutions to a mystery involving identity theft.
My late husband (my best mate George died in February 2013) and I travelled widely, walked a great deal and were responsible for creating a marked circular walk in our corner of England (north Oxfordshire).
My Swiss grandfather was a forester and I was responsible for the creation of a wood in the same part of England: very small but it has added a new small green patch to the map of our county. It belongs to a national charity called the Woodland Trust, but we had to raise a lot of money in a hurry to qualify for their planting of the trees – all native trees and now – nearly 20 years later – looking really splendid. It’s a great magnet for walkers and children.
I belong to and am active in U3A (not sure if it exists in the U.S., but it’s an organisation for retired people, organising groups with shared interests such as writing, art history, philosophy). If you don’t have it, I suggest you start it (they will have a website).
At nearly 85, I guess my stamina isn’t quite what it was!
The older generation don’t always get a good press, but some of them are quite remarkable. For example, teenager Buzz was blown away when he found how his Granny Em had put his lessons on computing to very unusual use (Grannies dot com). Harry Briggs was another one who managed to turn the tables with a little help from his grandson and modern technology (Wake Up Call). In contrast, Elli (The Class of ‘65) and Phillida (The Don’t Care Generation) had both left an impression on the Third World; Alice learned at last to stand up for herself (The Wrong Track), Robert Sinclair kept his exploits to himself (Reluctant Hero), and Astra finally solved the mystery of her father’s World War Two trauma (Just Nineteen Days). But maybe the last word remains with Ben whose mantra provided the title for this book. When pushed about his uncertain future, he unfailingly said “It’ll be Better Tomorrow.”
These are some of the stories of Manorfields’ residents, their relatives and their carers. There is humour, poignancy, even romance, but above all they demonstrate that life is very often stranger than fiction.