In previous editions of Citizens News, we’ve introduced the novels written by our resident author Marilyn Freeman.  Here, we find out a bit more about Marilyn, her background and her journey as an author.

Where were you born, and what was your childhood like?

I was born in 1946 in a place called Hollinwood. From the name you might imagine this was a pretty place deep in a forest. Not a bit of it.

It was a small area on a main thoroughfare halfway between the smoky northern towns of Manchester and Oldham, in Lancashire, England.

My family had a little shop selling sweets and tobacco, just by the side of the very busy road, where cars and buses sped past my bedroom window at all times of the day and night.

I lived with my mother and father and my brother, two years my senior. I was surrounded by aunts and uncles and grandparents, and life was good.

My earliest memories are of sitting on the little wooden bench at the back of the shop, observing customers coming in and out, and listening to my mother chatting to them as she weighed out their sweets or handed them their packets of cigarettes. I always felt loved and cared for, even though we didn’t have much money.

Do you remember the first book you ever read?

The first book that I remember stimulating my imagination was ‘The Cloud’ by Arthur C. Clark, mainly because for some reason I ended up reading it out to my classmates at the end of a busy school year, during that lazy period between the end of exams and the start of the summer holidays. I have to admit, I was something of a success!

The first classic novel I remember reading was Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. His writing transported me into another world, far away from the smoke and grime of the northern mill town, which was the only place I had known, at the time.

What is the earliest experience you had with books/writing that you remember?

The first piece of creative writing I remember producing was a short story I created when I was 14, about being marooned at sea. My English teacher was impressed and gave me an ‘A’.

Unfortunately, I subsequently switched my attention to science and my writing career had to wait another forty years before I tried again! At the age of fifty, I began writing poetry, but it was to be another 24 years before I wrote my first novel.

What advice would you give someone with an urge to write, but who isn’t sure how to go about it?

I would say, start small. Begin by keeping a daily or weekly journal, just jotting down your thoughts and feelings about the events of the day.

These could be events in your own life, someone else’s, or even what’s happening in the outside world. Get into the habit of writing regularly, however short or long the pieces.

Once you feel more confident, try writing a short autobiographical piece, describe a person who has been important in your life, or perhaps recount an incident or event that had a profound impact on you.

“Don’t worry too much about accuracy or punctuation or spelling – there is plenty of software around that can do that job for you!”

Gradually, in my experience, your ‘writing voice’ will emerge and you will feel more comfortable about setting your thoughts down in writing.

Above all, enjoy the experience. It can transform your life, transporting you to worlds you can only, literally, imagine!