Today
we welcome Lesley Cookman to the blog. Many of us can relate to Lesley’s ‘journey’
to becoming a full-time writer. Being in the right place at the right time or perhaps just falling into the job – whatever the reason this is how many of us became
jobbing writers. Hats off to Lesley for her wonderful achievements. 
I
still find it slightly startling to see myself alluded to as a
“well-established writer”.  I suppose I
am,

but there’s part of me that feels I should be as well known as, say, Neil
Gaiman, or our own Katie Fforde before I lay claim to the sobriquet “well
established.”

For
those young things (or maybe not so young) who have come to the RNA more
recently, I shall explain myself.  I
started off almost by accident. Married to the art editor of Which Computer magazine when desktop
computers were still practically in the foetal stage, let alone infancy, I had
scribbled away since I was a child, like a lot of us. One day, husband brought
home a great big cardboard box and said: “Open that, put it together, read the
instructions and then write an article on it saying how easy it was.” 
I did
it. Not without difficulty, but I did it. I can’t even remember what flavour
the computer was now – could have been Apricot. (Yes, there was one.) That led
me to becoming a freelance for the whole group, which included Which Computer and Business Matters. This, bear in mind, is over 35 years ago. So I
carried on. I wrote for them, I edited two magazines, The Call Boy – the journal of the British Music Hall Society – and Poultry Farmer Weekly. Yes, I know. I
wrote for anyone who threw me a commission. I was a writing whore. I did a lot
of PR, particularly for musicians and local theatre, I branched out into
writing pantomimes for the other side of my life, the theatrical side. One day,
after having  been commissioned to write
a book on how to write a pantomime, I was asked by a Comedy Writers’ Convention
to be a key speaker – on panto. Naturally. I met Marina Oliver, who was also
there and remembered my name from when I, along with thousands of others, had
thought perhaps I could write a Mills and Boon. “Join the RNA again”, she said.
“It’s fun.” So I did. How she squirrelled me past the NWS watchdogs I can’t now
remember – I think I dug up the partial I’d sent off previously and sent it
again, to comply with the rules.
Then
I met another writer who had written for the same “How To” publisher I had –
only she was writing about Twist In The Tail stories. She gave me a copy of her
book, which also contained a list of current fiction editors. I read the book,
got an idea while reading it, sent it off, and bingo.
And
finally (at least, I hope it isn’t finally) I decided to go off and do a
Master’s Degree. The only good thing I got out of that was that Hazel Cushion
was also on the course. Together, after we finished the course, we produced a
charity anthology, Sexy Shorts For
Christmas
. I, by now, had a lot of writer friends, whom I cajoled into
giving me short stories for Breast Cancer, my husband designed the cover and I
typeset. It was all a great success, and Hazel decided that’s what she wanted
to do with her life.
Two
years later, she asked me if I’d written any more of the dissertation I’d
written for the MA. I hadn’t, but I wrote a little more, she bought it and
asked if it could become a series. We both took a chance, and luckily, it paid
off. I can say quite definitely that I would not have become an author if it
wasn’t for Hazel and Accent. No one else would have taken a chance on a
gentle(ish) amateur sleuth novel – they weren’t even called “cosy” in those
days.
So,
keep going. There are many roads to travel…
Links:
Thank
you, Lesley. What an exciting ‘journey!’

If
you are a ‘well-established’ author and would like to be featured on the RNA
blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com
2 Comments
  1. Author
    Jane Risdon 11 months ago

    Always interesting to read and I enjoy your books too Lesley. Thanks so much. I have had a subscription to Which? and the Computer section…I never knew.

  2. Author
    Gabrielle 11 months ago

    Really interesting and informative. Thanks a lot, Lesley.
    Gabrielle x

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