Author Interview: Marilyn Freeman

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!

Writers Corner

BCHA resident and former nun Pauline Webb looks at religion today.

An original and groundbreaking book exploring the history, future and psychology of the Catholic church has been written by an 85-year-old former Catholic nun and teacher from Bedford.

‘Sin, Sex and Psychology: The Catholic Church on the Couch’ is the work of Pauline Webb. The book looks at a number of issues that the Catholic church has faced in recent times, and how it can become relevant to the 21st Century through psychology and philosophy. Pauline explores these concepts from the perspective of a devout Catholic who is questioning and challenging age-old certainties and modern problems facing the church today.

Born in Birmingham in 1937, Pauline came from a background where education was not considered a priority for girls. 

She attended grammar school but did not take exams, and worked in the offices of a local factory where her father worked as an engineer. She attended night school and independently studied for her O-Levels.

Pauline applied and was accepted for a teacher training course in Birmingham. It was after qualifying and teaching for a few years that she decided that her path in life was to join a French religious congregation. 

She went to Paris for a year to study both French and Philosophy, and studied English at the University of Sheffield on her return.

Pauline taught English at the Convent School in Bromham Road and, although she left the sisterhood in her 40s, she carried on teaching at St Thomas More Upper School. 

It was during this time that Pauline took an advanced course in Psychodynamic Counselling and extensively studied Freud, who has been a major influence on her life and work. She worked as a counsellor and also trained student counsellors. Pauline lived in Great Barford for many years but now lives in Bedesman House, part of the Bedford Citizens Housing Association (BCHA).

Marie Taylor, Chief Executive of BCHA, has been fascinated by Pauline’s story.

“Like many older people, Pauline has a great story to tell and is still sharing her interesting ideas and beliefs with people of all ages.”

‘Sin, Sex and Psychology: The Catholic Church on the Couch’ is available from Amazon as a free Kindle Unlimited edition and a paperback, priced at £8.50.