Wednesday, 20 February 2013

My Life's Passions

For The Writers’ Post topic this week, Kathy Thompson Combs @The Giggling Trucker’s Wife has challenged us to write about our life’s passions. At the same time, the topic for the GBE2: Blog On group is ‘Gusto’. Since that means an enthusiastic enjoyment, I can combine both topics in one post!
I’ve had a lot of ‘passions’ at different times during my life, but I’m going to pick out the main three:
1. History
When I was thirteen, we had a new history teacher at school. Unlike the old fuddy-duddy we had before, who simply wrote notes on the blackboard for us to copy down, this new teacher encouraged us to think, not simply to write down facts. With her, history came alive as we discussed causes and effects, not just facts and dates, and pondered the ‘what ifs?’ of history, as well as some of the unsolved questions.
As a result, history has continued to be one of my lifelong passions. I studied history at university, and went on to teach the subject for over twenty-five years. I hope I managed to pass on my passion to some of the students I taught!

A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of my history teacher when the momentous news came from Leicester that the bones discovered below a car park were indeed those of Richard III. It was my history teacher who first introduced me to the fascinating subject of this much maligned king. Indeed, she insisted we should all read Josephine Tey’s book, ‘The Daughter of Time’, and I remember we spend many history lessons discussing the evidence for and against Richard.
About 12 years ago, a friend and I, being newly retired, decided we needed a focus for our ‘days out’ and as a result we spent about three years visiting many different places in England that were linked in some way with either Richard III, or the fifteenth century – battlefields, castles, churches, cathedrals, and other medieval sites and buildings. I shall be writing about this during the April A-Z Blogging Challenge this year.
2. Musical Theatre

My parents were great fans of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and I was taken to see these each year from being about nine. Sometimes my mother also took me to the plays put on by the repertory company in our town, and so I was ‘stage-struck’ from early on. Then, when I was in my teens, I saw a production of ‘Oklahoma’ by our local amateur Musical Theatre group, and I was hooked. I’ve loved musical theatre ever since. However, although I can act (a little!), I can’t sing or dance, and so my involvement with musical theatre has been ‘behind the scenes’. I worked with both wardrobe and props with two local societies, and I think anyone who has been involved with amateur theatre will agree there is absolutely nothing to compare with the backstage atmosphere during ‘show week’. So many panics, so many laughs, and above all, the sense of everyone working together.
For about 10 years, I directed musical shows, first with my girl guide unit, and then with the junior section of our local musical theatre group. It was hard work but I loved it, especially seeing the shy ten-year-olds gain in confidence until they were taking lead roles a few years later. Several of my ‘juniors’ later went on to work in the professional theatre.
3. Writing
I’ve written stories almost since I first learned to write – first school stories, then, when I was in my teens, cheesy – and very chaste – romances! In my twenties, I wrote my first full-length  novel, and decided to send it to Mills and Boon. To my amazement, it was accepted, and I had three more novels published during the 1970s. After that, apart from writing several short stories for magazines, I was too busy with ‘real life’ – two daughters and a full time teaching career (plus directing all those shows in my ‘spare time’).
I came back to writing fiction about five years ago. Hardly surprising that the heroine in my first novel was given the opportunity to start in aWest End musical show!

Some of my other ‘passions’ have appeared in my novels – particularly in the settings: the English Lake District and Paris, especially. My love of history features in ‘Her Only Option’ in which the hero is an archaeologist.

My current ‘work in progress’ also reflects some of my other passions, as it is set in Ireland, and the hero and heroine have to explore their family history to solve a mystery!


  1. All of these are great things to be passionate about...and you do them very well and with Gusto!

  2. Gotta love when a woman shares her passions with her readers, thereby making them passionate, too!

  3. I hadn't thought about that, Jo, but you're right that I include my passions in my novels in some form or other.