Like most writers, the written word has been a passion of mine from a very young age. Once I had learnt how to read, I knew that there was nothing else I wanted more than to write stories of my own. I began by crafting childish tales to read to my teddies, who were perhaps my most captive audience yet. When my mother bought me a typewriter one Christmas, I became unstoppable – tapping away fervently every spare moment I had. She used to joke that at least she always knew where I was, the incessant clattering from my bedroom echoing throughout the house in the days long before laptops and computers were common in the home. I soon progressed to writing for my friends, often including them in the absurd adventures I created, influenced by my childhood reading of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl.
I didn’t really think seriously about becoming a writer until I started my first blog – Secret Diary Of PorterGirl – inspired by my unlikely appointment as the first female Deputy Head Porter at one of the oldest and finest colleges of Cambridge University. Writing anonymously, and making every effort to disguise the identity of both the college and its eclectic occupants, relaying the eccentric and often baffling enterprises of this esoteric society reignited the fervour of my youth. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the blog was discovered (I was betrayed by a fellow Porter in whom I was naive enough to place my trust), although the results of this were not quite as catastrophic as one might expect. The Head Porter was utterly furious and demanded my immediate dismissal, however the higher echelons of college were somewhat entertained by my musings and allowed me to escape with little more than a ticking off and strong advice to cease and desist.
As intriguing as my new role was – the most delightful elements being the bowler hat and free food – I found that the compulsion to continue with my online college adventures was overpowering. Now distinctly unpopular in the Porters’ Lodge anyhow, I made the decision to hang up my bowler and have a stab at becoming a writer. A proper writer. If in twelve months I hadn’t made any noticeable progress, I would rethink and return to another, more sensible, career.
As luck would have it, the relaunched blog and brand new adventures of the only slightly fictional Old College went down rather well and spawned two books (and counting) – the self-published Secret Diary Of PorterGirl and later the traditionally published PorterGirl: First Lady Of The Keys. The next in the series, The Vanishing Lord, will be published later this year and the series is expected to run to seven books.
And so it was that I became a ‘proper writer’. And PorterGirl is incredibly ‘proper’; its innate politeness and unflinching British tone being a big part of its appeal. But all this good behaviour goes very much against my own nature and so the need for something a little bit edgier – perhaps even a little bit rude – soon arose. Following the dramas and intrigue of the fallout from the United Kingdom’s EU referendum in the summer of 2016, the irreverent satire Who Shot Tony Blair? was born. Unusual in that it combines both political drama and traditional murder mystery, what started out as a vision of a post-Brexit, pre-dystopian Britain set a decade in the future has descended into something approaching a cross between Yes, Minister and Carry On Camping. Although unlikely that Who Shot Tony Blair? will follow in the footsteps of PorterGirl into paperback, there is certainly a second series in the pipeline and it has been an invaluable exercise in crafting the notoriously tricky plots and twists so required by a Golden Age-style murder mystery.
Following in a similar vein, I am currently working on a Hercule Poirot parody – Never A Cross Word – in which I attempt to emulate Agatha Christie’s distinctive style, and reunite the world’s greatest detective with his much-loved sidekick, Captain Arthur Hastings. As well as my fiction series and short stories, I took it upon myself to complete the dubious task of explaining James Joyce’s flagrantly obtuse work, Finnegans Wake, chapter by chapter to an unsuspecting public. As I hadn’t read the book myself and am far from being the type of intellectual giant who would have any chance of making anything of this great work, it was quite an experience for not only myself but also my loyal readers who bravely followed along with me, only occasionally laughing and more often than not offering their sympathies.
It seems unlikely that there will be any let up in my literary output just yet, there are just too many stories left to tell. Having dabbled with forays onto the small screen with both PorterGirl and Who Shot Tony Blair?, I hope to continue to develop something approaching a skill in scriptwriting and one day finally master the art of nailing a truly Agatha Christie-worthy murder mystery. Aside from all that, I shall be expanding my hat collection with gusto, eating meals of ever-increasing size and maintaining that famed air of reserved British politeness. For some of the time, at least.
First Lady Of The Keys (UK) http://amzn.to/2aX4W7L
First Lady Of The Keys (US) http://amzn.to/2aAZzMb
Finnegans Wake – a guide by an idiot https://portergirl.com/2016/05/12/and-now-for-something-completely-different/
Never A Cross Word – A Poirot Parody for Captain Hastings fans everywhere https://portergirl.com/2017/01/16/never-a-cross-word-a-poirot-parody-for-captain-hastings-fans-everywhere/