When my publisher asked me to write about the woman who has inspired me the most, my first thought was How can I choose?
I thought of friends, fellow writers, bloggers, editors and former colleagues, and ended up totally confused. So many women have inspired me over the years that selecting just one is incredibly difficult.
Therefore, I decided to start with my first female role model, the woman I have always aspired to emulate – my granny.
Granny was tiny, not even five foot tall, and weighed less than seven stone, but what she lacked in stature she made up for in personality. She was a primary school teacher who specialised in music and maths, and during her career became a deputy head teacher. She worked hard to become a teacher, never dreaming of being anything else, and because she loved her job so much, she didn’t marry and have children until she was in her late thirties. She had drive and vision and wanted to inspire every child she taught.
I didn’t arrive until she was in her late sixties, and by that time she was retired and had plenty of time to spend with me. Granny read to me and told me stories all the time. She developed my love of fictional worlds and recited the Greek myths and legends by heart. She summarised Shakepeare’s plays and created new stories about Oberon and Titania, Romeo and Juliet. Ours was a constant dialogue about fairies and goblins, love and hate, about why the sky was blue and why knowing the difference between homophones was so important. She also taught me to crochet, to make toffee and how to ignore the housework. On Saturday afternoons, Granny made toasted jam sandwiches that I ate with my bedridden granddad while we watched the horseracing. The times I spent with my granny were magical and filled with learning and love, and I treasure the memories.
Granny was my first female inspiration and to this day, I can still hear her voice and smell her Yardley’s lavender perfume. She was intelligent, funny and talented with a wicked sense of humour. She was a loving mother and grandmother. She was strong and independent, brave and compassionate.
When the going got tough, Granny would remind me: Sometimes you have to pin your knickers to your vest and go out and face the world. (This started with an incidence where knicker elastic had actually failed her, but became an analogy.) And with life’s ups and downs, I have learnt that she was right.
I wish she was here to see that I’m a published author and to meet my husband and children. In fact, there are so many things I wish…
However, one way I keep my memories of Granny alive is by making some of my characters a bit like her, for example, Aunt Mary in Summer at Conwenna Cove. It’s my nod to the wonderful little woman who taught me so much. I feel lucky to have known my granny and to have had her in my life.
Love you, Granny, and always will. XXX