On Being A Writer
Being a writer is something I have always known I was going to be. I can’t remember a time in my life that being a writer wasn’t an aspiration. From as young as five years old I was always scribbling stories, always writing long handwritten letters, always imagining the day when I would be a successful author. I never went through that phase of indecision when adults would ask me, “And what do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s just something I have always known. It certainly made life simpler. I didn’t have to make difficult decisions when it came to selecting “O” level or “A” level subjects. English, Creative Writing and History (since I was definitely addicted to non-fiction books) were a natural choice for me.
I often dreamt of the day I would see my name next to a number one best-seller. I anticipated the newspaper interviews, the TV appearances and the accolades I would receive. These were definitely the optimistic hopes of a young and eager writer. I knew they were not realistic and I never really believed they would happen. But when they did my reaction to them was surprising. There was no feeling of immense joy, pride or self-satisfaction. When I saw my name attached to the number one best-selling book in May-June 1987, I simply felt a certain calm – yes, I had achieved it…but then, so what? The same when I was invited to go on television to be interviewed about the book, I took it all in my stride but felt no particular sense of pride in myself. It was simply something that had happened in my life and it was back to being a mother again.
Little did I realize that 25 years after the book, “An Affair of State”, was published it would get a new lease on life as “How the English Establishment Framed Stephen Ward” – that Andrew Lloyd-Weber would produce a musical based on my main character. Stephen Ward – and that a leading Human Rights QC would take up Ward’s case, using much of the evidence I provided in the book, to have the conviction against Ward overturned. Now that is what really thrilled me and filled me with pride. If my research helped lead to Ward’s conviction being quashed then that was my greatest achievement – not the number one bestseller!
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Genre – Politics, Espionage, Scandal
Rating – PG-16
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