Covid and the evolution of my late life role of full-time carer seemed to generate a long sleep when many important aspects of my life slipped by unnoticed. Before then playing an important part of my writing life were my two website/blogs – Life Twice Tasted and Damselfly Books – which served to illustrate my creative and literary life. Even through this long ‘sleep’ I have managed to keep up with Life Twice Tasted blog but my Damselfly Books blog has fallen by the wayside rather more than I would like.
Let me step aside and indulge in some historical context. In 1972 when my very first book was published I was 31 years old. By then I had taught art in a secondary school, taught children in a primary school, I had, memorably, also home-taught Rose, a girl suffering from spina bifida. I went on to obtain an Advanced Diploma in Primary Education, before finally moving into Higher Education, to teach adults to be good teachers.
As a background to all this, I had married my husband, had written and published four children’s novels, had two children of my own, and moved house twice. Having completed my Diploma I was asked by my supervisor at the University of Newcastle to move onto a PhD in education. Also for four years during that time I wrote a weekly column for the Northern Echo, the leading regional newspaper.
Deciding not to do that PhD I decided to leave teaching and use my energy and focus it on writing full-blown adult novels. And perhaps do a little bit of teaching on the side.
Now in these slightly brighter, more wide-wake days I have finally decided that I should wake up my two blogs and work on, to allow them to continue mapping out my creative life as they did in earlier days.
Back to the present. Before the radical dislocation brought about by Covid, good my academic friend Dr Donna Maynard had embarked on the self-created enterprise of creating an archive all my books – cross-referencing them with my hundreds of notebooks from which my long list of published novels and short stories had emerged over the 40 or so years since 1972. I wrote a post on Life Twice Tasted about being contacted by a man who after 50 years. Still treasured that first 1972 book called Theft This has probably kickstarted my new intention about waking up the two blogs and participating in Dr. DM’s project.
So, here on Damselfly Books I will document my conversations with my friend Dr Donna Maynard whose academic expertise is defined by her great insights into the work of George Eliot.
Donna is now proposing to embark on the self-imposed task of reading each of my books in sequence, alongside the notebooks from which they emerged. She will document her observations regarding these books and meet with me on a regular basis with specific questions about each book and how it came to be written.
So, each post/essay on the newly awakened Damselfly Books blog will be a reflection of this process. with perhaps some discussion about the nature of the creative process that produced each book.
And across on my other blog – Life Twice Tasted – I will continue to document my own and others’ books reflecting on all aspects of the writing process. Currently you may read about my friend Michael Daley and his fascinating new short story collection The Midnight Mannequins.
The next entry over on Life Twice Tasted will be my introduction to the process which led to the writing of my new short story collection Siblings which started life being broadcast on radio during Christmas week 2021.
You can listen to them here.