As an only child I started writing early. My first work of fiction was a story about Richard I's minstrel, Blondel, written in school notebooks. Neglecting set homework for my own projects, I did not thrive at school. Around the age of fourteen I discovered the novels of Mary Renault, set in ancient Greece, and fell in love with historical fiction, reading avidly when I should have been revising for exams. The upshot was a course in window dressing, in the 60s, at a college perilously close to Carnaby Street, the Marquee Club and Tiles disco. I was too distracted to thrive at college, although it was there that I was introduced to a life-changing book called The Hobbit by a wise tutor, weary of telling me off for not doing what I should be doing, which was copying elongated figures from mail order catalogues as an exercise in using water colour. In sending me to the library forThe Hobbit he was signalling that a) he had given up, and b) that he secretly admired my illuminated borders around pictures of women in pyjamas.
Although I hated that college, it was the source of two other major influences of my adult life: photography and the Renaissance. The latter was covered in one session of the art history module, but it was enough to show me that somewhere in the past - and not too long ago - there had been a very bright and beautiful light.
Most of my working life I was a freelance picture researcher. It was the Golden Age of coffee table books - great big tomes lavishly illustrated - and it was the best job in the world. The skill was stripped out by new technology at the turn of the century (a careful look at the history of publication will show a corresponding diminution in what we might call visual literacy. It's all colour-saturated and digitally enhanced these days, to the point where we're beginning to stop looking. But I digress.
Giving up picture research, I became a tutor in creative writing, mainly for American students on programmes in Oxford colleges. I was also an editor with The Writers' Workshop, reading, analysing and suggesting improvements in submitted manuscripts. In 2003 I founded Godstow Press with my husband, David. Allison and Busby, who had initially published A Tabernacle for the Sun, had changed hands and the new crew did not want Pallas and the Centaur. I was stuck. No publisher was going to be interested in the second part of a trilogy. At the same time, my agent retired. Having spent my life in publishing, if I didn't know how to do something, I sure knew who to ask, and so we made the digital revolution work for us and launched our new venture with Pallas, soon followed by a new edition of Tabernacle when the rights came free from A&B. Pallas was sold on subscription, a practice common in the 18th century, and we'd covered our costs in just three months.
When The Botticelli Trilogy was completed with the publication of The Rebirth of Venus, I fell into a hole. I'd been on the project for over thirty years and had no idea what to do next. A couple of friends saved me with an idea which became A Gift for the Magus, due to be published 2012. What's next? Well, it looks like it's Roman Britain.
I have a couple of blogs that may be of interest:
http://gooseways.wordpress.com - comments on life in general, enthusiasms and gripes.
http://lindaproud.wordpress.com - Writing Historical Fiction - everything from writing tips to trying to get a feel for the past through the rhythms of the agricultural calendar.