“Romance with a capital R” ~ Manchester Evening News
Most of my novels are set in the countryside and many have
authentic details of farm life and the changes which have taken
place through the years, so it will be no surprise to hear that I was
born on a farm in Yorkshire. I have been an avid reader for as
long as I can remember and I enjoyed school and a wide variety
of subjects but when it came time to make a life choice I opted
for agricultural college, disappointing my parents and going
against the advice of my teachers who felt I was wasting my
education and ability. I have no regrets.
I had no plans to become a writer but I have never lacked
imagination and looking back I always enjoyed scribbling and telling stories to myself in bed while waiting for
sleep to claim me. I confess I still do this. I came across an old exercise book with a half-finished story of an
adventure on the lines of Enid Blyton – one of the early authors I devoured, so I suppose I had a subconscious
desire to write even then.
After college I moved to Scotland to work. Here I met and married my late husband, a dairy farmer and a keen breeder of Clydesdale horses, so I have spent most of my adult life farming in Scotland. When our three children moved to Dumfries Academy and life was a little less hectic I saw a competition in the Woman’s Weekly for the first chapter and synopsis of a romantic novel. I decided to have a go in secret. There were three judges and I didn’t win but Lynda O'Byrne, the fiction editor, kindly wrote to say she had liked my entry and suggested I finish it and sent it to publisher Robert Hale. I followed her advice. I also bought the Writers’ and Artists year book to learn about presentation. It was too long for the 45,000 words in Hale’s Rainbow Romance Series. They asked me to shorten it and it was published as Lonely is the Valley under the name Lynn Granger. Three more followed. I shall always be grateful for that early encouragement and patience.
Around this time we bought an Amstrad computer for the farm accounts. It had a word processor included. Magic! Today’s young writers don’t know how lucky they are with computers and the internet. It was a tremendous improvement on my slow, pathetic typing. I should have had shares in Tippex! It allowed me to write longer stories which resulted in Fairlyden, the first in a series of four farming sagas under my own name, each about three times as long as the Rainbow romances. They were published by Headline.
My husband helped with research of farming history, delving into his collection of Scottish Farmer Albums going back to 1900 and I wished I had listened to more of the stories from my grandparents.
It was around this time when my husband became ill and subsequently died. I did very little writing for the next few years while I concentrated on the farming business with my son and younger daughter and the people whose jobs depended on us. It is not always possible to put writing first when life intervenes and other people depend on you.
I have been a member of the Romantic Novelists Association for many years and at the Conference in 2000 the committee resurrected the Elizabeth Goudge trophy to celebrate the Millennium. It was judged by Richard Lee of the Historical Novelists' Association. I was astonished when I won. It provided the incentive – if I had needed one - to finish writing The Laird of Lochandee, the first in another series of four. The next year at the RNA Conference I met my agent, the late Dot Lumley, who placed all my books until her death. Writing has become a part of me and I would be lost without it. At the present time, 2016, I have about twenty sagas and eight shorter romances published. They are all under my own name of Gwen Kirkwood now and they are also available as e-books and audio books.
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