The photo chosen for the article was taken outside the former home of Dorothy L Sayers in Witham, Essex.


When I graduated from university in 1975, I wanted to enter publishing and in those days it was fortunately pretty easy to achieve with just a degree. I got a job at Usborne, the children’s book publisher. As it was such a small company and everything was written in-house I learnt an amazing amount.

I mostly worked in foreign sales (using my languages) and production but when I went freelance 11 years later, I started to write fiction. I joined various creative writing groups, but because of my knowledge of children’s books I continued to have ideas in that area too. In fact, I packaged a few children’s books for other publishers. Some of them I wrote myself and then worked with designers, illustrators and printers (and sometimes other authors) to complete the books. Up until recently, all my published works have been children’s books but I continued to have a hankering to write novels for adults.

My historical novel Zaira took me over six years to complete. Then after some time, rather than trying to find an agent – and with the advent of the e-book – I eventually decided to publish it myself. So, after finishing my MA in Creative Writing at Essex, I set up the Patrician Press last December with a view to publishing my own and other writers’ works. Zaira is also being published in Italian as a paperback and I am publishing it as an e-book too.

I am also Marianne Francis (my second two names). I decided to use a pseudonym as the style and subject matter of Clarisse, my contemporary novel, is quite different.

Finally, to answer your questions:

What is Your Favourite Book?

Have too many favourites, but one that sticks in my mind is: Rosamond Lehmann’s The Weather in the Streets.

What Inspires you?

Walking along the river estuary at Mistley; the view from our Italian house and surrounding countryside, plus the plethora of historical buildings; and originally, Virago Press which was set up in the 70s, just as I got my job in publishing.

What did you last read?

The Light Years (The Casalet Chronicle) by Elizabeth Jane Howard after seeing an article about her in Guardian – I had read some of her earlier works but never heard of this series. I have various other things on the go – all on Kindle.

What surprises me is that up until  about a year ago I was generally very anti Kindle and e-books and now I am publishing them myself. If you can’t beat them, join them.