I was born more than half a century ago (what a worrisome thought) on the island of Fiji. My early years were spent in idyllic bliss on a string of coral islands, then known as the Gilbert and Ellis Islands, in the Pacific. Some of my first memories are of flying half way around the world (aged 7) to boarding school in bitterly cold North Yorkshire and having countless torches confiscated for reading under the blankets after ‘lights out’.
As a child, as well as developing a passion for reading (and escapism – but that’s a whole other story), I loved acting. I performed in every stage production going at school, and went on to act and sing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in various dramatic productions while at university in St. Andrew’s, Scotland.
Being a lover of literature and history, and something of a thespian at heart, my first employer was not, perhaps, the most obvious of choices: the British Army. In the 1990s, while in the military, I participated in four peace-keeping operational tours in Bosnia which I now recognise had a huge impact on me. Working in various liaison and interpreting roles, (including with British special forces), I also wrote, edited and produced the troops’ magazine, The Desert Rat. As you can imagine, at times life during the war in Bosnia was confronting, but compared to most people, I was cocooned. Despite this, the experience was eye-opening, undoubtedly affecting my entire outlook on life and humanity.
After leaving the army, I worked for an educational charity before going on to run Microsoft’s Press Centre in the UK. Having my own children was something of a watershed and I decided I would like to become a teacher. It is something I have done ever since, although nowadays I’m a tutor of student teachers.
I’ve always had itchy feet, perhaps because of my itinerant lifestyle as a child. As well as Australia, I’ve lived in Fiji, Kiribati, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, England, Scotland, Germany and France. Now I’ve made my home on the Mornington Peninsula in Australia. It’s a special corner of the world and I love living here.
Nowadays, I wrestle for creative writing time between tutoring, reading, blogging and family – and regularly feel guilty about giving none of them sufficient focus or time!