Born in West London and given the name of Julie, I have lived in various places in the UK including Essex, Suffolk, Dorset, Somerset, various areas of London and the west coast of Scotland. I moved to Nottingham in 1996 where I still live with my husband and rescued cat and dog, Portia and Maisie. At one time we had two dogs and eight cats in the house…all of them rescued. It was chaos but I loved it. I have two grown up children and two grandchildren and, I’m delighted to say, we are a very close family no matter how far away we live from each other.
I began writing my first book, set in ancient Egypt, at the age of twelve but during our move back to London, the manuscript was unfortunately lost and my writing came to a stop for a number of years. I’m so pleased to have taken this interest up again.
I am a keen reader and enjoy historical, crime and fantasy novels but I’m a terrible wimp when it comes to horror – especially ghost stories and vampire/werewolf tales. Blood, guts and gore and anything that makes me jump, just aren’t my style.
Annual Creative Writing Competition For Children
Sadly, the annual creative writing competition that I have run for the last thirteen years has come to an end. However, there are possibilities of other organisations taking up the mantle and any news I have on this will be shown here and on my Facebook page in due course.
The Creation of New Writers UK
In 2006, I founded New Writers UK, a not-for-profit organisation supporting new writers who were trying to get their books into the public eye. As Founder and President, I organise events – including three-day book festivals and help little known authors to bring their work to the attention of the reading public. I also arrange our attendance at various events and, in 2009 I launched an annual creative writing competition for the children and young people of Nottinghamshire. I am delighted to say that, this year, we are running this for the ninth time. The finalists of this free-to-enter competition are given awards and their stories and poems are edited, formatted and published and they are presented with a published collection of their entries at a Civic Ceremony by the Mayor of our local council.
Wonderfully Inspiring People
Over the last year I have attended a number of events such as EM-CON in Nottingham, where I have been fortunate in meeting some of Britain’s most admired actors. Danny John Jules of (‘Red Dwarf’ and ‘Death in Paradise’), James Cosmo (who played Father Christmas in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ amongst many other fabulous roles), the incomparable David Bradley who played the mean and vindictive Argus Filch in the Harry Potter Films – I can assure you this lovely man is nothing like his character – and Andrew Lee Potts who starred in the television series ‘Primeval’.
Last year I participated in the World of Wizardry convention in Nottingham. This was a two-day event on 6th and 7th August and I loved it. During the weekend, which was organised by Daydream Events, I met some delightful people including organisers Chelsey and Kurt Smith and their family, and a number of actors from the Harry Potter series of films. Christopher Rithin, Chris Rankin, Jon Campling, Spencer Wilding, Paul Redfern, Hugh Mitchell and many of the actors who played Gringotts Goblins and I’m delighted to say that my place has been booked for this year’s event on 16th September, in Doncaster. More information about this event can be found on the World of Wizardry Facebook page.
My Reading Choices
I love magical, mystical adventures and the use of imagination. Good versus evil, dragons, mythological characters, talking animals and heroic acts. I am also an avid reader of historical novels and latterly of two particular series of crime books – which never really appealed previously.
My favourite authors are William Shakespeare, J K Rowling, Charles Dickens, Philip Pullman, J R R Tolkein, C S Lewis, Eoin Colfer, Helen Hollick, Elizabeth Chadwick, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Stephen Booth, Robert Galbraith, to name a few. Further back in comedic-literary history, I loved the fantasy stories by the American author, Thorne Smith who wrote ‘Night Life of the Gods’, ‘Topper’ and ‘The Glorious Pool’, amongst others. They were all written almost a century ago but humour is humour and I’m sure his writing was the inspiration for many a fantasy/comedy writer today. These are the type of books that can have you laughing out loud on the bus and attracting glares from fellow passengers.
Having a new name, new publisher and newly designed book covers, the next step was to arrange a new website. Anne Ricciardi and Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphics have done a wonderful job with this and I’m delighted with the result.
Over the past year I have been privileged to assist two groups of young adults with learning difficulties and physical disabilities in creating their own children’s story books.
The ideas and illustrations were all contributed by members of the Gedling Borough based day centres in Arnold and Netherfield. Funding to cover the cost of publishing and 100 copies of each was donated by individual Nottinghamshire County and Gedling Borough councillors.
My part in these projects was to help the groups structure their ideas and help to turn them into story form. Once the story was complete I then edited and formatted the narrative, placed the illustrations and prepared the manuscript for publication.
‘The Magical Wizard and the Easter Egg Hunt’ was created by group members of the Ernehale Lea Day Centre in Arnold, Nottinghamshire.
‘A Frog Called Rod’ and ‘A Chicken Called Doris’ are the first two books in a series by the Wednesday Group (The Ley Street Bunch) at the Ley Street Day Centre in Netherfield, Nottinghamshire.
The books are for young children who have people to read to them or for independent readers and, in ‘Rod’ and ‘Doris’ particularly have underlying themes of acceptance, diversity, relationships and communication. Already the ‘Ley Street Bunch’ are working on their third book; ‘An Elephant Called Andre’. The central themes of this book are loss and change. It is anticipated ‘Andre’ will be published early in the New Year and is likely to be followed by three more in the series about Ben the Brown Bear, Captain Henry Hippo and Budgie and Marmite, the twin Siamese cats. At this stage, I am unsure as to the order these books will appear, so watch this space.
Both day centres have a small stock of the books and any income raised from sales will be put towards the social funds for the members. The books are available from Amazon, can be ordered from book stores or from the New Generation Publishing website http://www.newgeneration-publishing.com