One of my earliest memories is of eating cherries in an orchard with my grandfather and his faithful black Labrador. I was born in Kent and lived there until my family moved to Devon, but we visited regularly, and every Christmas grandparents sent us a box of Cox’s orange pippins, each apple wrapped in newspaper. I remember seeing the oasts and hop gardens and walking around Canterbury, throwing pebbles into the river and being scared by the sight of the ducking stool on the wall of the Old Weavers House.
After leaving school, I qualified as a vet and worked in small animal practice. I’d always loved reading, and decided to turn my hand to writing fiction. In 2002, I won the Harry Bowling Prize which was set up in memory of Harry Bowling, the ‘King of Cockney Sagas’. I met my wonderful agent, Laura, at the prize-giving and with her support, my writing career took off.
Having had fourteen books published, I began writing about the Three Maids of Kent, a Victorian family saga, inspired by the stories passed down by my grandparents and great-grandparents who lived in and around Canterbury, Selling and Faversham. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed researching the Victorian era – it’s been a real voyage of discovery, finding about nineteenth-century tattoos, how to use a tinderbox and the effects of industrialisation on the rural way of life.
In between writing and working as a vet, I’ve brought up a family and looked after various pets. I’ve settled in Devon now that my children have grown up and gone off to university.
Would I have liked to have been living in Victorian times? Only as a wealthy gentleman in good health, I think!
‘Half a Sixpence’ is the first novel in a brand new series, a Victorian family saga set in East Kent. The Three Maids of Kent series follows the fortunes of three generations of women from the hop gardens and orchards of rural Hernhill and Dunkirk, to the breweries of Faversham and streets of Canterbury.