I was born in 1962 in Barnsley, and grew up in the mining town of Hoyland. For the first years of my life we lived in a small three-up, two-down terraced house with a tin bathtub and an outside toilet, so I really do know what I’m writing about! We moved when I was six to a brand new bungalow – with all modern conveniences – and that’s where my parents still live.
My older sister Jackie and I went to the local primary school and then on to Kirk Balk comprehensive school, which in the 1970s was very good for toughening us up. It was a mixed bag of experiences, not all of them good, but I did have a lovely English teacher called Mr Farrimond, who encouraged my efforts at creative writing.
After A levels I went to Leicester University to read English, and I had three fantastic years there, loving the independence and the course I’d chosen. I’d decided while still at school that I wanted to be a journalist, and though I dreamed of working for The Guardian or The Times, I got a job with a trade magazine called the Hardware Trade Journal – very unglamorous, but a good grounding in the craft. From there, I went to work for a local paper in Oxford, and then on to London, where I had a happy time working for the Hampstead and Highgate Express – where I met my husband – before finally ending up as a producer with BBC Radio, working for The World at One and then Woman’s Hour.
All of that seems a very long time ago, however. I left the BBC when our second child was born, and for years I did the full stay-at-home-mum thing in Crouch End, North London, where there were lots of other women doing the same so I made some wonderful friends there. And then, in 2002, I said a tearful goodbye to them all because my husband Brian and I and our three children moved to a lovely old house in rural Herefordshire and life changed beyond all recognition. We’re still here, with our dogs and chickens, and we all love it, though I like to pop back to London occasionally for an urban fix. Anyway, it was here in the country, with the children all leading increasingly independent lives, that I finally sat down and started to write a novel. My first attempt got me an agent but not a publisher, but then I wrote Netherwood, and Little,Brown published it in September 2011. The second in the series – Ravenscliffe – comes out this September, and a third book is currently underway, with many of the same characters and one or two fantastic new ones, who I’m currently enjoying getting to know!
– which brings the story of my life so far bang up to date.
Find out more about Jane in the Author Q&A.