This week I’m joined by Ruby Fiction author Jan Baynham as she tells us about when she decided to write and why. Over to Jan …
I was a late starter when it came to writing fiction. Having spent years as a teacher teaching, and I hope inspiring, children to write and then at the end of my career advising and supporting teachers about the craft of writing, it wasn’t until I retired and had more time that I wrote my first piece of fiction. I joined a small writing group in a local library and I was hooked! Each week we were given a title or writing prompt for a short story to write and encouraged to read it out the following week to the group. I knew then that was what I wanted to do and set about learning as much as I could to become a better writer. I had a lot of time to make up!
I enrolled on a short story class taken by a published author at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Many of those early pieces were worked on and improved to become competition entries and, learning from critiques and feedback, soon began appearing in online and print short story anthologies. I started taking a notebook on holiday and soon new locations became the settings for my stories. Plots and characters were created from people watching and scenarios arose from me asking ‘what if?’ a lot. My stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, I began to write my first full-length novel. I loved being able to explore my characters in further depth and delve into their stories. Learning never stops and I try to take every opportunity to hone my craft. At present, as well as a fortnightly writing workshop, I am also enjoying ‘Further Adventures in Crime Fiction’ at Cardiff university run by a successful crime writer. I’m not thinking of switching from writing about families and their secrets, but all my stories include some crime and much of what we are learning can apply to other genres of writing too.
So why do I write? Around the same time as I joined the writing group, I wrote a book for my little grandson entitled ‘Tom’s Secret Friend’ and had copies printed for family and friends. The story was about him and an invisible, imaginary dragon friend called Dewi and the mischief they got up to together. One chapter is about a visit to Castell Coch, a castle not far from us, and tells of the tricks Dewi played there. When we took Tom there, he asked us all to leave him in the dungeon as he needed to talk to Dewi! Seeing his enjoyment of all the incidents in the book and having to read it to him over and over is one of the reasons I love to write.
That was the start of it. Now, receiving messages from readers who have enjoyed my writing, either in the collection of short stories, published in 2019, or my two novels in 2020 is one of the best feelings. Reading has always been one of my passions and to know that your own words have created worlds for your readers to enjoy is wonderful. This has been particularly satisfying this year when readers have described how my novels have allowed them to escape from the awful events of COVID 19 for a few hours.
About Her Sister’s Secret
How far would you travel to find the truth?
It’s 1965 and Jennifer Howells is a young woman with the world at her feet, just on the cusp of leaving her Welsh village for an exciting life in the city.
Then the contents of an inconspicuous brown envelope turn Jennifer’s world upside down. The discovery leaves her spiralling, unsure who she is. Overnight, Miss Goody Two Shoes is replaced by a mini-skirted wild child who lives for parties and rock’n’roll.
But Jennifer’s experience with the excesses of sixties’ culture leaves her no closer to her true identity. She soon realises she’ll have to travel further – first to Cardiff, then across the ocean to Sicily – if she wants to find out who she really is …
About Jan Baynham
Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. They have three grown up children and five grandchildren, ranging in age from fifteen to three months. Having joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2016, she values the friendship and support from other members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of her local RNA Chapter, Cariad. When she is not writing, she enjoys Pilates, family history and long walks. She is a member of the Eddie Stobart Club, having her own spotters’ handbook for long car journeys, and has her own truck named after her, Janet Eleanor. An avid reader, she doesn’t have enough hours in the day to read all the books in her TBR pile and immersing herself in worlds other authors have created.
Twitter – @JanBaynham https://twitter.com/JanBaynham
Facebook – Jan Baynham Writer https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit
Blog – Jan’s Journey into Writing https://janbaynham.blogspot.com/
Thank you for telling us your story Jan and I wish you every success with your novels. Mx