Born in London longer ago than I care to admit, I was brought up in the village of Weston, Northamptonshire. My father died when I was four and my mother and I lived in a thatched cottage with shop attached so that Mother could combine looking after me with earning a living. Sounds idyllic? I hated it when the shop bell rang and my mother, busy in the kitchen, called out to me to answer it and serve the customers. It broke my concentration from the stories I was writing. Mother called them scribbles, suggesting they were of little importance. Maybe they weren’t important to her; but to me they were. I’ve always been passionate about writing and reading.
The writer, Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, lived at Weston Hall and I was brave enough to show him one of my stories. I remember his comments to this day. He complimented me on my use of language and said I had a particularly good ear for dialogue. Imagine the glow of pride my ten-year-old self felt on receiving such praise. Nowadays I try to give others the encouragement he gave me. Everyone has doubts about their own abilities and I am no exception, but if the desire to communicate is strong enough, we have to put ourselves out there. That need keeps me writing and publishing my work.
I tend to be an eternal student. I trained to be a teacher at St Gabriel’s and studied Speech and Drama at Rose Bruford, both London based colleges. I have a BA from the Open University, a diploma in English as a Foreign Language from the Bell School, Cambridge, and an MA in Modern Literature from the University of Leicester.
My varied career includes teaching, lecturing and running drama and creative writing workshops. I am also a theatre director, actor and voice-over. As Jeannie Russell I am a senior member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators and adjudicate drama festivals in the UK and Europe.
I have five published novels and my plays have been produced on the London Fringe. Themes include the power of creativity, the complexity of relationships and speculations about the supernatural and the future of our planet.
I am married to TJ, a historian and artist. We live on the subtropical island of Gran Canaria where I spend most of my time writing novels, short stories, plays and poems. I also paint and TJ and I exhibit our art work together. My daughter, Anieka, lives in England and we make frequent trips to see her, visit art galleries, go to the theatre and attend literary events.