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“I have been writing for most of my life, mostly stories but some poetry too. I didn’t do well in school and writing was an escape from bullies and a world I found confusing.

My first poem was published in an anthology in 2007, and my first story in literary ghost story magazine The Ghastling in 2015. I had always loved English and wanted to study it, but life, as it always does, got in the way. I was fifty by the time I was applying to university. I saw an Open Day at UCS advertised on a Facebook page and thought I had nothing to lose by going. It turned out that I couldn’t make the Open Day, but I received a message from Dr Lucy Andrew, asking if I was still interested in the course. I was, although I thought my lack of formal qualifications would count against me.

Lucy invited me for an interview and I took along the three copies of The Ghastling to show her my stories. I was delighted to be offered a place at UCS, it felt like such a friendly, accessible place to study, and to study my favourite subject, at that!

I have thoroughly enjoyed my studies so far. It has been wonderful to explore other ways of writing, and I’m now contemplating a screenplay for my next story. All the university staff I have met have been incredibly supportive and encouraging, and the smaller class sizes mean everyone gets a chance to contribute. I never thought I would ever get to go to university and I’m just delighted to have a chance to do this, even at my advanced age! I really feel it’s a privilege to be here.

I hope to be able to pursue a different career, teaching adult literacy, as I feel so passionately about reading, that it should be available to everyone. Gaining this degree will change my life. I’m going to write a book and maybe go on to further study, as I find it all so interesting.

My fourth short story ‘How Shadows Fall’ is featured in The Ghastling Hallowe’en edition. I wrote in it one afternoon to distract me from the stresses of applying to university. I began writing ghost stories when I couldn’t find the kind of stories that I liked to read anywhere. The Ghastling published my first one ‘Calling the Dead’, inspired by watching the film ‘Insidious’.

Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to have two more submissions accepted. The Ghastling specialises in stories of a particular type; more M R James than blood and gore. I think that what you don’t see, or feel you are about to see is much more frightening than anything graphic. Writing is like pulling teeth, at times. I have found that if I have an idea for a story, I have to sneak up on it, pretending I’m not really interested, and let it expand in its own time. If I try to pounce on it at once, it darts away and hides.

The idea for “How Shadows Fall” came to me a couple of years ago, on a long drive on a busy motorway. I wrote three completely different stories while it was germinating.

If you enjoy a good scare, I recommend The Ghastling, available online. I hope people enjoy being frightened by things I’ve written, that’s what keeps me doing this.”

 

Find out more about our English course here.

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