I’ve always loved writing. I’ve always made up stories in my head. When I was a wee girl I used to walk into lampposts all the time, because I walked about in a dream world, thinking up stories. People thought I was one sandwich short of a picnic, that I wasn’t the full shilling, that my lift didn’t go to the top floor. In other words, I was daft. I was the eejit in the family.
Do you know what an eejit is? Someone who is one sandwich short of a picnic…whose lift doesn’t go…well, you know what I mean. Eejit is a wonderful Scottish/Irish word that seemed to sum me up perfectly when I was growing up.
I was always trying to change my image. Act sophisticated, grown up, sensible…and then a story would just plop into my mind and BANG! There I’d go, smack into another lamppost.
I grew up with three sisters and my widowed mother. My dad died when I was just two. My little sister was born two months after he died. My childhood was full of fun, even though it must have been so hard for my mum. Me and my sisters knew nothing of the hardship she must have had. My mother was always reading books and was never away from the library. I can always remember thinking what a wonderful place it was. You could walk out with a stackful of books and didn’t even pay for them! It was my mum who gave me my love of reading.
Favourite book when I was little? Little Women. Guess why? It’s about four sisters and their mother, and one of the sisters wants to be a writer. Of course I loved it.
But I would never have admitted to anyone that I wanted to be a writer. They would have laughed at me for sure. And anyway, I used to think, what did I have to write about? Nothing interesting ever happened to me. I lived in Greenock. An ‘auld grey toon’ on the West coast of Scotland. Writers lived in Paris or London, or New York. They didn’t live in Greenock. Writers spoke with posh voices. Not with a broad Scottish accent like mine. Or writers were dead. None of the above applied to me!
Yet, my own background, my home town, have been the ispiration for most of my writing. A comedy series called ‘My Mammy and Me’, another one called ‘We Gotta Get Outta This Place.’ Set in Greenock, inspired by my own experiences. And my first book, the book that changed my life, Run Zan Run, based on what happened to my own daughter Katie, in Greenock. A tip, if you want to be a writer, don’t ever think nothing ever happens to you, because your own life is so interesting, if you just think about it.
My only regret? I wish I had started sooner. But once I’d started? There was no stopping me.