I had my first story published - in the school magazine - when I was seven. A big girl came up to me in the playground and asked me if I was going to be an authoress. I said yes. My influences at that time - all of them - were Enid Blyton. I wrote stories - sometimes quite long ones - until I was into my teens, when I turned to poetry. I wrote maudlin stuff with lines like 'I cannot smell the roses for my tears' but thankfully did not show it to anyone. I still wrote something for every edition of the school magazine because it was a way of avoiding paying for a copy. As a lonely young mum in Leicester, the Writers' Workshop was the best part of my week, and, even better, the following year, was Hugh Rae's Creative Writing class at the University of Glasgow. Short stories were still what I was writing, and I read one out on local radio in Leicester and even sold one to She magazine. When I needed to earn some money I wrote 'true' 'confessions' for the Love Story market. When my third baby was born I said to myself that I would write The Novel before he went to school. Then I forgot that idea and started an OU degree. Then life kind of speeded up. Got my degree, moved to Sheffield, got divorced, got a full-time job and writing came last on the list of things to do. I feel for those people I know who are just too knackered from a week at work and the demands of a family to be able to construct a routine that allows their writing to develop. Because now I know what it must have been like for proper writers whose only job is to write. I have no family at home, and no job to go to. I can do what I like and what I like is writing. I read as well of course, and garden and go for walks and holidays, and see my friends, but I can now write as much and as often as I like, and think as obsessively as I like about my characters and my plot. I feel lucky.