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Lisa Jackson

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Michelle Styles
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Although I was born and raised near San Francisco, California, USA, I have lived in Britain since 1988 when I married .

The deal was if he passed his Bar exams, I would quit my job in insurance, and go to Northumberland, see how I liked it for a year and then we would decide where our future together would be. We spent our honeymoon in the Canadian Rockies discussing how and why if he were an examiner, my husband would surely have failed. He flew back to the UK and arrived the morning the results were print in The Times. The first time through, he missed his name but then saw it -- the examiners had not followed his fears, but had passed with him with a high mark. My hand trembled as I hung up the phone. It had come to pass. I was about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. I gave my notice to my manager who was sorry to lose me, made arrangements for furniture to be sent across the Atlantic and started reading Catherine Cookson novels to get a flavour of the area. For although I spent my junior year of college at Lancaster University, I had not bothered to travel to the North East.

After reading about ten novels and Catherine Cookson’s autobiography, I thought -- oh no what have I done here and rapidly checked with my manager I could return to my job if things did not work out. I need not have worried. Northumberland is beautiful, truly a forgotten corner of the British Isles with green fields, stone buildings and a landscape littered with castles, and Roman remains. I fell in love with the North East, and in particular with the Tyne Valley. So after, all this time, with three children, two dogs, two cats, and assort of chickens and ducks, I believe we are settled.

Why do I write?
I write because I love to write. I have always loved books and reading. before I could read, my mother reports my favorite occupation was to sit and look at books. After I learnt to read, in part using the Richard Scary books with his labeled pictures and wonderful anthropomorphic drawings of animals performing all sorts of tasks, I read everything. My childhood favorites included The Wizard of Oz books, the Nancy Drew mystery series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Lloyd Alexander’s Book of Three series an d countless books of folk tales and fairy stories. As I grew older, I read as widely as possible. If I read a mention of a book in another book, I tried to read that book. By the time I was 12, I knew I wanted to be an author, but the one important piece of advice I received was -- authors must have some sort experience of life. In order to write, you must live.

Years passed and while I wrote articles for newsletters, kept a journal, made several starts at writing novels, I was not serious. Then in 2002 I became seriously ill with gall stones. As I lay in Hexham Hospital, I started to re-evaluate my life. What did I want to do with it? I decided I had lived enough to begin seriously writing, and made a promise to myself, I would write a novel (and finish it!) I started one, but then stopped. How could I say anything of importance? Later that summer I visited the website of Slyvia Engdahl, the author of the Newberry Award winning Enchantress from the Stars. I asked her why she no longer wrote. Her reply was that while she could think up themes, she could no longer think up the tent poles to hang them on. A light bulb moment for me. I thought I can think up tent poles. I became determined to write a novel and more importantly to finish.

My First Sale
My First sale did not happen overnight, I have the form rejections and other rejection letters to prove it. To read more about my first sale, please click here

What else do I do?
Other than writing and reading, my interests include gardening (the restoration of the garden is 25 year project), beekeeping, cooking, needlework, walking and traveling. I also serve on the governing body of my younger tow’s school and am actively involved with my church.

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Photo: Michelle Styles
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