I was born in Ireland and lived for the first six years of my life in a tiny village called Drumbeg. We moved across to England and I started school. As a child, if I wasn’t reading and writing stories or at ballet lessons, I was dressing up in my mother’s old ball gowns the moment I came home from school and becoming a princess, with a storyline that could last for weeks. Sad I know, but I lived totally in my imagination. And not much has changed since!
Me at 9 months
9 years old, playing a child murderess in ‘The Bad Seed’
My father travelled abroad a huge amount and wasn’t often at home – he cut a mysterious figure and myself, my mother and my sister really didn’t know what he did when he was away. Just like Pa Salt in The Seven Sisters stories, we would wait with anticipation for him to return, always with a gift from another exotic country for us. He was a very humble and wise man, and above anything else, taught me that whether queen or toilet cleaner, all human-beings deserved the same respect. He died unexpectedly ten years ago and I was heartbroken.
I was a bit of a nerd at school, particularly with my passion for history. I definitely wasn’t in the ‘popular’ group as I preferred the dusty rooms at the Victoria and Albert museum to nightclubs! I was also very involved in both my ballet training and acting. My mother was an ex-actress, my grandmother, an opera singer and my great-uncle, chief lighting designer of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The theatre was in my blood.
Me as Tracey, Bomber’s daughter, in Auf Wiedersehen Pet
At fourteen I went to London to full time dance and drama school. At sixteen I got a leading role in the BBC television series called ‘The Story of the Treasure Seekers’. And for the next seven years, I acted professionally in theatre and TV, including playing Bomber’s daughter, “Tracy Busbridge” in the iconic ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’. I also got married to an actor I met on a DIY store television commercial! At twenty-three, I was initially diagnosed with Epstein Barr virus and found myself bed-ridden. Once again I turned to my imagination to help me through and while in bed, I wrote my first book, ‘Lovers and Players’. A friend read it and passed it onto an agent and to my shock and delight, I was offered a three book contract. Typically in my dramatic life, I found out I was expecting my first child, Harry an hour before I went to the launch party for ‘Lovers and Players’. No champagne for me then!
Me at the launch of my first book, and newly pregnant with Harry.
After that, it felt like I was giving birth to a book and a baby every year, and after writing eight, I decided to take a break. By then, I’d moved to Ireland and back again to England, married my husband Stephen after a whirlwind six month’s romance, and had a wonderful seven years being a wife and mother. To keep me sane between back-to-back episodes of Noddy, Barney and The Wiggles, I wrote three books: one domestic saga, one ‘literary’ book and a detective novel. Of these books, ‘Helena’s Secret’ (The Olive Tree in the English language) and ‘The Butterfly Room’ have now been updated and published. This just shows that nothing you do in life is ever wasted, although I’m still too shy to show anyone my detective story!
When Kit, my baby, started school, I decided it was time to actually think about writing another book which someone other than me would read. I always had a problem with RSI (repetitive strain injury) but more importantly, I find it impossible to sit still at a computer because I’m hyperactive and used to moving from my ballet days. So, I decided to buy a dictaphone and train myself to ‘talk’ the books. It was hard-going at first, partly because I felt so stupid talking to myself all day, and the kids found it hilarious that I put in the punctuation as well. However, the more I ‘wrote’ in this way, the easier and more natural it began to feel. After all, the art of storytelling was originally passed on by mouth, not by word. It also meant I was no longer chained to a desk so I could wander around outside, because it’s nature that gives me my best thoughts.
I decided not to look at what kind of book was selling, but instead, to write a book that I would like to read with a dual timeline and set in places I know and love. ‘The Orchid House’ (‘Hothouse Flower’) was the result. I remember handing it to my agent in London and walking away thinking that if a publisher didn’t buy it, I would stop writing and take a degree in psychology. I’ve still got the application forms sitting in a drawer in my desk. However, much to my complete amazement, I had offers from publishers within the week. The book has gone on to be #1 all over the world. I then wrote ‘The Girl on the Cliff’, ‘The Lavender Garden’ (‘The Light Behind the Window’) and ‘The Midnight Rose’, all of which became international bestsellers.
At this point, my publishers began to enquire about the eight books I’d written previously under the name Lucinda Edmonds, as they were all out of print. I had to go into my cellar and bring up the copies I’d stored down there. They were covered in spiders webs and mouse droppings and I was very nervous about sending them off. However, many of my publishers wanted to release them, so I set to work re-editing them.
Then, in the New Year of 2012, while gazing up at the night sky, I was struck with the inspiration for an ambitious multi-book series, loosely based on the legends surrounding the Seven Sisters star cluster. The books would chart the journeys of adopted sisters as they traverse the globe in search of their pasts and would feature a mysterious father called Pa Salt. And so the Seven Sisters series was born.
When not writing, travelling or running around after my four children, I love reading books that I haven’t written with a glass or two of Provençal rosé.
Me with the kids and Stephen