I was born in Salisbury, England, in 1941 and when I was five went with my parents to New Zealand. We lived in Auckland and I attended Epsom Girls Grammar. On leaving school I trained as a primary teacher at Auckland Teachers' College. After a few years teaching I decided to go full-time to Auckland University to study English, always my first love. On completing an MA degree I moved to England where I taught in a variety of schools for a couple of years. I then returned to NZ and studied for a Diploma in Journalism at Canterbury University, the first year the course was introduced. This led to some freelance work but as this did not pay my mortgage I decided to go back to teaching. In later years I returned to England and bought a flat in Wimbledon. I taught English at a local comprehensive school until I retired in 2000.
So why did I take up novel writing?
In 2010 I was recuperating from a hip operation and was housebound for six weeks. It occurred to me that if ever I was going to write a novel this was the time. Furthermore, our family home in Nelson had just been sold and I wanted to preserve its memory, but in an imaginative way, so I wrote Where the Bellbird Sings and followed this up the next year with No White Flowers, Please based on my mother's life and set partly in NZ in the 1920s and partly in England. Because it seemed to call for a sequel I wrote When this War is Over, set in wartime Britain.
HEARTS SET FREE (April 2017)
Hearts Set Free is a departure from my other books, where I leaned heavily on my own background and experiences. Hearts Set Free is a historical novel set within a modern time frame and for this reason it should appeal to a wide spectrum of readers. It tells the story of two women - Debra a young married woman of today and Clara who lives in the 18thcentury, at the same time as Jane Austen.
Debra and her husband Grant are renovating their cottage in the country near Bristol, when they find a packet of love letters that have remained hidden behind the fireplace for two hundred years. Debra is intrigued and as she reads the letters she becomes increasingly involved in the life of Clara who was married to a slave trader and living in Bristol, England. In the late 18th century there is an outcry about the slave trade led by such people as John Wesley, the great Methodist preacher who had such an impact on William Wilberforce. In the novel Clara hears him preach a scorching sermon against slavery and fears for hehusband's eternal destiny if he continues to keep slaves on his sugar plantation in Jamaica.
Debra becomes so involved in the life of Clara her marriage to Grant takes second place with dangerous results.
INSPIRATION FOR NOVEL
I visited Wesley's chapel in Bristol and found a pamphlet he wrote where he makes a blistering attack on the slave trade. I had not realised until then that he was an ardent abolitionist and had a profound influence on William Wilberforce who was instrumental in having the law passed which banned slavery in the British Empire. I also visited Kenwood House in North London which was the home of Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice who ruled in 1772 that slavery had no basis in common law in England. A portrait of his adopted daughter Belle, a black woman, hangs in Kenwood Housetoday and caused me to wonder about relationships, especially marriage, that might develop between white and black people in the 18th century. It occurred to me that this whole subject of slavery would make an intriguing background for a novel.
A couple of years ago our film festival featured the works of Jane Austen and of course, I reread all her novels before watching the film adaptations. This made it relatively easy for me to slip into the language and thought patterns of the 18th century and I must say I enjoyed writing about this era and in the writing style of those days. I admire the dignity and restraint of the language.
I also tried to show in Hearts Set Free that the preoccupations and concerns of people of the past were not so very different from our own today. That is why Debra is able to identify so closely with Clara. They are both spirited and independent young women who seek a solution to their problems and find answers lie in the spiritual realm.
After finishing Hearts Set Free I so enjoyed living imaginatively in the 18th century I embarked on a new novel, Miranda, which follows the fortunes of a black girl, one of the characters in Hearts Set Free. The novel is now at the publishers and will be coming out shortly.
An email was sent to me with a couple of photographs taken inside Waterstones Bookshop in Wimbledon UK (27th Sept 2017).
I walked into Waterstones in Wimbledon this afternoon looking for a book, and suddenly saw your latest novel displayed on the shelf! Wow - how fantastic! It was right in the middle at eye level (see attached pics), so you couldn't miss it. Congratulations on a wonderful achievement! Hope you are prepared to be a famous author...
KATEY THE BEACH CAT
This is my first venture into children's writing, yet this book seems to appeal to adults who have a taste for the whimsical. Katey tells her own story and her views on life may amuse you, especially if you have ever wondered how your pets see you and other members of the animal kingdom. There is a blend of fact and fancy running through the book for Katey has a 'Furry Godmother' who turns her life upside down by transforming her into Katerina, a beautiful girl - once a month when the moon is full.
FIRST NAMES ONLY (2015)
Photo taken at book launch for First Names Only in 2015
I was casting about for a subject for my new book and thought why not write about a group of unmarried mothers living in a home while awaiting the birth of their babies. After all, I had a lot to do with Childhaven an adoption society where my mother was secretary for 26 years. I was much the same age as the girls and struck up friendships with several of them and so came to know their individual stories. In my book I have interwoven the lives of a group of them and shown how this experience of having a baby and giving it up for adoption left its mark on them for life.
Now fifty years on, there are many people living in NZ who have been affected in some way by what took place in the 1960s. Just recently I was at a birthday party where there were twelve ladies present, the average age 70. One had been an unmarried mother, another was the daughter of an unmarried mother and yet another had adopted a child.
I think my book will have special meaning for any of you who fall into one of these categories.
Of all my books I think First Names Only will touch the hearts of readers. Do let me know how it affects you.
Here are some comments:
Just finished reading your book. Unbelievable. Deeply moved as I read it. Haven't shed so many tears for a long time.
Just bought First Names Only on Kindle and can't put it down.
I really loved First Names Only and intended to read only a couple of chapters before I went to bed. However, each chapter flowed so beautifully into the next with an element of anticipation that I was compelled to keep reading.
WHERE THE BELLBIRD SINGS The story is about a young schoolteacher in the 1960s who goes to board in the family home with her elderly aunts and uncle and then uncovers certain family secrets. She falls in love with another teacher on the staff and this forms the main love interest in the book.
COMMENTS FROM READERS:
"My partner and I recently borrowed the book from our local Library in Westport and both absolutely love it."
"Glenys was so involved in it she was sorry to come to the end of it, and was hoping there may be news of a sequel."
"Just having read for a second time your lovely book ..."
"It was a story that really absorbed me and I felt I was part of the story...it stayed with me even when I wasn't reading it. You had all the right bits in it - mystery, romance, historical details, fashion etc.etc"
My second book: NO WHITE FLOWERS, PLEASE is set partly in New Zealand and partly in England during the 1920s. A young girl tells the story of how she and her four brothers and sisters are uprooted from the little mining town in the North Island of New Zealand after their mother dies. They are taken to England by an unmarried aunt. Rhoda, the eldest child is only fifteen and we follow her fortunes in this new and different environment. It is essentially a story of survival and should appeal to readers of any age.
WHEN THIS WAR IS OVER
When This War is Over is the sequel to No White Flowers Please
It is the 1930s and nineteen-year-old Rhoda Pritchard moves from Bath to Salisbury to take up nursing in a psychiatric hospital.There are two men in Rhoda’s life. Which one will she choose? Then comes World War 2 and the lives of all three are overturned. This is a gripping story of young people caught up in events beyond their control.