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What inspired me to write 'Amy, The Story of a Coram Foundling'

Front cover: Amy, The Story of a Coram Foundling

As I've said on my home page, I have wanted to write from a very young age, but I either didn't have the time, the courage, or the self-belief to start writing. I was also hampered by the fact that I struggled with reading up until my mid-teens, plus suffered from a massive inferiority complex caused by my abusive childhood.

After I went back to work from maternity leave in 2010, I changed to an office based role, and used the spare time I had to start writing. As with anything you do for the first time, it was pretty rubbish, but I persevered  and kept going until I had the plots and ideas for about five different novels which I would dip into every now and then. Then I realised that I had to concentrate on just one work, otherwise I would never get anything finished, so I decided to concentrate on 'Amy'.

I grew up in South West London, went to college in Brixton, and spent twenty-years working in the West End as a telecoms engineer, so it made sense that all of my books were set in the places I know well. 

I have always been passionate and fascinated by history, in fact, it was only thing I was good at at school, so when I had virtually taught myself to read, I started avidly reading about history, especially women in history, and it was these excellent works by the likes of Antonia Fraser, Alison Weir, Amanda Foreman, and others, that  have inspired me in my writing.

I had heard, over the years, about Coram's Foundling Hospital, and how desperate women would leave their babies to be raised there, so I read all I could about the Hospital and decided to write about a Coram foundling, both about her experiences in the Hospital and her life in the outside world after she leaves.

I used my own experience of working in the West End, in very rich peoples' houses, as an inspiration for Amy's experiences of working for Lady Bessborough in Cavendish Square, I also had Royal Household's security clearance so I worked in all the royal palaces as well. Although I wasn't a servant, I felt very much like I was working, or 'serving' these people by installing phone lines for them. I got to meet lots of well-off individuals, some titled aristocrats, some just very rich people, but virtually all had inherited their wealth and had never worked a day in their lives.

As with all of my books, I meticulously research the era that I set them in, as I'm a stickler for authenticity, and try as much as I can to show what the times were really like, and what peoples' lives were really like, without sanitising or fictionalising anything that seems unpalatable to our modern mindset. The best sources are contemporary first-hand accounts, letters, diaries, and journals of the time, where you can get an idea of their outlook on life, their mindset, how they spoke, their phraseology and the words they used. Even reading contemporary fiction of the time can give you an insight into the zeitgeist. 

I state in all the blurb and blogs for my books that, as with Amy, it's a girl's journey through life and involves their relationships, of which there are usually quite a few. They always say write about what you know, and from an early age I've always known that I wasn't interested in just one monogamous relationship throughout the whole of my life. But, having said that I'm 54 now, so I've settled down and left that life behind me!

All of my main characters are from an under-class, either working-class, or have suffered abuse as a child, and Amy suffers from the fact that she starts life with nothing, not even her own name, and she is plunged into a world of luxury and opulence after having spent all of her life in the institutionalised environment of the Foundling Hospital. She then has to adjust to life on the outside, which involves relationships, something I had to adjust to after a loveless and abusive childhood. Nearly all of her boyfriends are upper-class, and the class system was rigid and unmoving when it came to marrying anyone outside of their social class, but having said that, I've given Amy a happy ending.

 I'll list some of the books I read as research and which inspired me.

Privilege and Scandal: The Remarkable Life of Harriet Spencer, Sister of Georgiana by Janet Gleeson

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Forman

High Society In The Regency Period: 1788-1830 by Venetia Murray

The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital by Dan Cruickshank

Byron: Life and Legend by Fiona MacCarthy

A Home for Foundlings: A Lord Museum Book by Marthe Jocelyn

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