Friday, 3 April 2015

Mandy’s Lovely Blog Hop

My fellow writer and friend,  Liv Thomas tagged me in – My Lovely Blog Hop – to talk about some of the things that have shaped my life and writing.  It is a great way to discover new blogs too.

First memory

I have a few, but one that is most vivid is a holiday in Cornwall when I was four. We stayed in Looe, in a rickety old chalet on top of a cliff and my older brother Martin and I would run down a sandy path to play on the beach every day. When it was time for breakfast, Mum would wave a red towel from the window and we’d run back up. I thought that was very exciting. On the same holiday we walked around the harbour and saw sharks hanging on hooks by a fishing boat. There was a sign saying – Please do not touch the sharks as their skin is rough, or something like that anyway. I decided I’d test that theory and grazed my finger.  There was something about Cornwall that thrilled me even at the age of four and it stayed with me ever since. I live there now.


Like many people of my age I grew up with Enid Blyton. Not literally of course. She was much older than me and came from a different background. But I did read all her  Famous Five books and the Malory Towers ones. They were set in a boarding school for girls in Cornwall. Perhaps these books reinforced my love of Cornwall. My brother bought me a copy of The Lord of The Rings when I was thirteen and I devoured it. I was totally swept away in the adventure and derring-do. I can’t remember if I read The Hobbit first, I think I did, and later I tried The Silmarillion but was defeated a few chapters in. Perhaps I should try it again now I’m a bit older. As a young adult I read Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Koontz remains one of my favourite authors and he’s a lovely man too. He actually found the time to answer my letters when I wrote to tell him he’d inspired me to have a go at writing my own novel. This man has sold over 450 million books, but he still found the time to write to me in his own handwriting.  I treasure those letters.


I love the smell of a library and the little cardboard tickets. I know they don’t have little cardboard tickets nowadays, but when I was a kid they did. I always felt calm browsing the rows of books and saw it as a place to relax and take my time. When I was a student the library was a necessity really rather than a place of relaxation, as there always seemed to be a deadline to meet, and latterly I haven’t really used the library. I know. That is really bad and I must get it sorted. Libraries are treasure troves and must be protected.

What’s your passion?

Writing and walking by the sea on the cliff paths around the Cornish coast. I get lots of writing ideas when I’m by the ocean.


I left school at 16 and couldn’t wait to get out of there. I hated school mostly apart from the social side of things. I didn’t like being told what to do and when to do it – still don’t. The only subjects I liked were English and History. The teachers of those subjects were great, which of course made all the difference to my enjoyment of the lessons. I left school with a Grade 1 CSE in both of these subjects – the equivalent of a C at GCSE nowadays. The rest of my grades were pitiful. I wanted to be a hairdresser until I actually became one. Enough said about that the better. I then worked in a factory until I got married at the age of 18 and had my daughter aged 19. Life has a funny way of turning full circle though and by the time I was 30 I was back at school – this time as a teacher. It would take too long to explain how I came to do A’ levels, a degree and a PGCE, but I did and ended up teaching history for 17 years.


When I was eight I asked my parents if I could have a petite typewriter for Christmas. Once I got it I never looked back. I wrote poems, songs and short stories which I would read to friends and family. They said they enjoyed them ... I never stopped writing after that. All time I was teaching a little flame of hope flickered at the back of my mind that I would write on day. I never really believed I would be published though. It was still a massive achievement for me to have become a teacher, let alone a writer. I wrote my first novel in 2001 and I eventually had a novel published in 2012. I now have five novels published and a further four waiting in the wings.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog hop as much as I did writing it, and now I pass the baton on to my friend and writer KellyFlorentia. She will post her blog on Wednesday 8th April.


  1. Oh, the little cardboard library tickets! I'd forgotten those, and how the system operated. There's something very comforting about that memory. So lovely about Dean Koontz. I remember reading books by Leigh Nichols and thinking how much 'she' (as I thought) wrote like DK and 'she' became a favourite of mine. Then it turned out that 'she' was a 'he' called Dean Koontz.

    Liv x

  2. Isn't it interesting how many of us hated school? I think schools are much more inspiring these days - or the teachers are - than when I was there. Fantastic to see how many of us went on to write, design, teach etc.
    Thank you, Mandy, for sharing your thoughts, I loved reading them, and hearing about Dean Koontz too. xx

  3. Cardboard library tickets - we're all showing our age! Lovely to hear more of your story, Mandy. Angela Britnell

  4. Thanks all. I tried to comment on each of your posts but couldn't. Hopefully it has worked this time x

  5. What a wonderful blog it brought back so many memories for me too. I practically lived in my local library. I was fortunate also to gain a job in a school library I thought I was going to be there until I retired but things were not to be. The page was turned and I moved on to another chapter of my life. I now work in a very different library. A library for medical equipment, I'm just very grateful to have a job :-)

  6. I hated school too, but love learning. So since waving goodbye to my girls grammar school in 1963 I have been in the education system on and off for the past 50 years.