Here is my second blog in my series, ‘illness and disability. While we are all self-distancing and worried about the Coronavirus, it is worth still remembering those who suffer or have suffered from cancer. Here below is Rosy Smith’s story. A writer of Victorian novels and a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.
1) I have read from a very young age. My favourite book as a child was The Secret Island by Enid Blyton. It was pure escapism for me. An Aunt bought it for me in 1954, and I still have the book on my bookshelf.
The early influences for my writing were authors such as Victoria Holt, Dorothy Eden, Daphne Du Maurier, Winston Graham & Mary Stewart.
I always loved romantic suspense, and a story with a mystery & secrets.
2) My decision to write was taken at an early age. My sister & I were in a foster home during the 1950s, & although only about 10yrs old, I loved to write stories to read to the other girls in the foster home. As life progressed, I wrote a lot of poetry , some of which has been published in various anthologies. When my 2 daughters were young in the early 1970s, I wrote pantomimes and amusing plays, to be performed at our village hall.
Not once, at that time, did I think of writing a book.
3) My writing career began about 1971. I won a short story competition with the Woman magazine. That released me greatly as I realised that my writing was of some worth. It was quite surreal that so many people would be reading my story! Although only 2,000 words, it was a step in the right direction. Yet, I still I didn’t write anything else of any note. My 2 girls were young and kept me busy. I also did an apprenticeship in a hairdressers, and various housework for people, and cleaned for a bank. Writing was as far away from my mind as it ever could be!
4) After a wonderful holiday in Australia with my sister & her family, to see our brother I started to feel unwell. Awful headaches, a change of personality, and hearing & balance problems. And after an MRI scan in 1998 , I was told I had a large brain tumour at the back of my head, on the right side. Looking at the scans, it was indeed large. We live in Devon , and I was referred to the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol to a wonderful neurosurgeon there, who without doubt saved my life.
On the 23rd March 1998, 2 teams of surgeons performed a 13-hour operation to remove this tumour from my head. The operation was successful, but a small piece of the tumour had to be left on the brain stem. I was in hospital for 3 weeks, my face had dropped one side, and it looked as if I had suffered a bad stroke. People I had known for a long time hardly recognised me. I couldn’t close my right eye, and still can’t, nor do I have any sight in it.
For a long time I could barely walk. I didn’t want to go out because of the way I looked, and I hated depending on others. A friend eventually got me out in a wheelchair as I needed a birthday card for my husband. And she insisted I choose it myself. I shall always love her for this, and how she helped me, or I may never have gone out. My husband had to give up his small garage to look after me. We sold our house & our lives changed drastically.
It was a long, hard road to recovery. It is only in the past 2 years that my face has come back to some normality, although my smile is still crooked & I have no sight or hearing on my right side. But the good thing is, I am still here. I lived to see my grandchildren grow up and see my 6 great grandchildren.
5) It was during my recovery time, 2 years after the operation, when I was 54, that my neurosurgeon spoke the immortal words ‘you must try and keep your brain active’!
I don’t think it was what the Professor had in mind! But to amuse myself, I started to write my first book!! A friend typed it up for me, and one day she said, ‘You must send this somewhere, it is really good, and I can’t wait to see what happens ‘.
For a couple of months I took no notice of what my friend had said. But on finishing the novella, she urged me to submit it somewhere. So I borrowed the ‘Writers & Artists Year Book’ from the library, and eventually sent my story ‘The Amethyst Brooch’, to the publisher D C Thomson in Dundee, then sat back & waited, with little hope! The letter from the then Editor, Dorothy Hunter, arrived one Saturday morning, saying she had loved the story, and would I please forward page 81 for continuity!! And she would like to publish it as a My Weekly Pocket Novel!!I could never begin to tell you how I felt.
And my writing career, had begun in earnest!
6) My seven books are all set in Victorian times. They contain romance, mystery, secrets, handsome heroes, old mansions, keepsake & music boxes, weddings, beautiful gowns & feisty heroines. All seven were published as My Weekly Pocket Novels. Then Ulverscroft Large Print published them in their Linford Romance Library. Followed by Endeavour Press (now Luma Books) publishing them all as eBooks which are all available for kindles on Amazon. My large print titles are published under the name Rosemary A Smith.
My eBooks are published under the name Rosemary Smith.
I don’t have a website. But do have an author page on Amazon & Facebook.
7) My favourite genre of books, is mainly Historical & time slip.
Some of my favourite books are:
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
Katherine by Anya Seton
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
The Secret of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore
Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt
Movies are also a passion of mine:
The Bridges of Madison County
My Cousin Rachel
to name but a few.
I love the theatre, and get to go all over the place with my sister. I have 3 favourites which I have been to see more than once:
The Woman in Black
8) I write at my computer in the small bedroom, which also serves as my writing space. But I get a lot of my inspiration sitting in the car overlooking the sea and visiting National Trust Properties.
9) After losing my eldest daughter, it has been a long while since I could get back to writing. But I am now writing another Pocket Novel for People’s Friend. Set in a Castle in Scotland overlooking Lake Jared. Which is nearly completed.
I also have the inspiration for a time slip. Which will be my first full length novel. The future beckons ….
10) Many thanks to Sheila for inviting me on her blog ….