MARY WOOD - Journey to publication
I am the thirteenth child of
fifteen born just as war ended in 1945 to parents who were worlds apart in their upbringing, but drawn together by a strong bond of love.
My mother had been brought up in a Middle-Class family. She attended private schools where she was taught
how to be a lady. My father was an East-Ender, who, as a boy, took baskets of vegetables around the streets to sell, before going to war as a young man and fighting in the trenches in France.
We were a happy family, and though poor, we were
rich in love.
A lot of my growing-up years were spent with my head in a book. We had a cosy place in the kitchen. A small corner next to the Rayburn, big enough for a basket to hold old newspapers ready to kindle the fire with. These provided
a comfy seat, where the warmth from the Rayburn seeped into my cold body, and I could be transported to another world by a book.
The seeds were being sown, even then, for me to one day become an author, as the likes of Jane Austin, Charles Dickens
and Louisa M Alcott fired my imagination. As did my mother’s tales about my great grandmother, Dora Langlois, who was an author in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I am the proud owner of one of her books.
But, my own journey into publication took
a long time to happen.
I married young and soon children arrived and life took many turns. Earning money was a priority and I took on many jobs, from cleaning to factory work, to caring for the elderly and catering. Anything that would fit in with
bringing up our four children.
We had grandchildren by the time I at last put pen to paper to write my first novel, and that is meant literally, as not many folk had a typewriter, and computers were something to come in the future.
My work generated nothing, other than rejection letters. But, I never gave up, and after being duped by a so-called, ‘scout for literary agents’ who took my money, messed with my manuscript and my head, before finally letting me down, I found
the help I was looking for on an online site, called YouWriteOn.com. Here, I found other wannabee authors. We critiqued each other’s work, and became friends. The benefit for me was that at last, with all the help and support, I could feel my writing
taking on a new direction. My characters were telling the story, not me, and they were dragging me in and along with them. It was from these fellow authors, that I heard about kindle, but was unsure that was the path I wanted to take. Self-publishing had always
held a stigma, and was mostly known as vanity publishing.
After retiring from my nine to five, at the Probation Service, due to being struck down by ME – a debilitating illness that left me unable to walk, I was found to have breast cancer.
Two major wake-up calls. If I wanted to realise my dream, I had to embrace all the changes that were taking place in the book world. And so, I took the plunge and self-published my work.
My world did indeed change. My health improved and my books
all went to number one in genre. Doors began to open. I was approached by Pan Macmillan and offered a seven-book deal!
All of this at the age of 68! Amazing. Dreams do come true.
I now have my seventh title coming out in paperback, and published
by Pan Macmillan.