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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 27-Mar-14 10:57:28

On Becoming a Writer

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Maureen Lee being published. Over the last two decades she has written bestseller after bestseller set around Liverpool and the World Wars and has acquired a legion of fans. She has sold almost 1.5 million copies and her books are borrowed from the library almost 300,000 times a year. She has a Romantic Novelist Association award and her new book The Seven Streets of Liverpool comes out this week. In her guest post she tells us how it all began.

Maureen Lee

On Becoming a Writer

Posted on: Thu 27-Mar-14 10:57:28


Lead photo

Maureen Lee on becoming a bestselling author.

As a teenager in Liverpool I attended the Liverpool Playhouse regularly and desperately wanted to be an actor. I joined a dramatic society, but soon realised I didn’t have the voice. Although I have since grown old, my voice hasn’t grown old with me. I had a few acting parts, usually a non-speaking part or with just a couple of lines. I recall in a pantomime my sole contribution was, "My Lord and Lady, your carriage awaits."

I was married and in my twenties when I read a book of short stories by an illustrious American author and felt inspired to write such stories myself. I shall not reveal the name of this author as people would consider it the height of conceit for me mention him in the same paragraph as myself.

Anyway, or anyroad as we say in Liverpool, the illustrious author’s stories were intensely miserable, as were mine, usually ending in someone’s death. The first I had published was called Perhaps I Should be Dead...

As an author, I lead two entirely different lives. I step out of my office – a shed in our Colchester garden – to find the sun is shining yet I have spent the past few hours describing a snow covered Christmas in Liverpool. I love it.

I approached an agent who advised me to cheer up a bit. She suggested I aim my work at women’s magazines, saying, "Women prefer to see the world through rose-coloured spectacles." So, I wrote happy stories from then on.

Time passed. I had three sons and as they grew older I decided I didn’t want to be just a short story writer; I wanted to be something bigger. In 1990, our youngest son had left for university when I started to write full time.

I rented an office and went daily from nine until four. Over the next few years, I wrote two thrillers, an episode of Cheers, more short stories, a few articles, not a word of which were published. I sometimes wonder how long I would have persisted without any success at all.

I started to write a saga beginning in Bootle, where I was born, which I intended to carry on through the war to the present day. Three chapters in, my agent submitted it to several publishers, but it was turned down. I was in the middle of another novel when, a year later, one of the publishers who had read my saga, asked if they could see it again and I was commissioned to finish it. I was to become their "Liverpool" author. It was a wonderful feeling, if somewhat daunting.

As an author, I lead two entirely different lives. I step out of my office – a shed in our Colchester garden – to find the sun is shining yet I have spent the past few hours describing a snow covered Christmas in Liverpool. I love it.

Oh, and my voice is still much too young, though it’s a while now since anyone telephoned and asked to speak to my mother!

By Maureen Lee

Twitter: @Gransnet

liminetta Fri 28-Mar-14 07:59:29

Love your story, Maureen. I used to want to be an author, and writing was my passion.However, I reached the stage after a few years, when I realised that I had to make a choice; to carry on full time, or give up altogether.I chose the, family commitment, you know.
I missed it at first, but then, sometimes, I was struck by inspiration, and would write down my thoughts on scraps of paper before the moment vanished forever.This kind of developed into poetry as time went on, and I have in my possession now, some great works of a great poet; namely, me!
I enjoy reading them every so often, and my family press me to enter competitions, which I do, now and then (as they think my work is good).
However, I have never won anything, but this hobby has been an outlet for my frustrated creative talents, and I am happy with just that.
Maybe one day........!

inishowen Sat 29-Mar-14 17:31:04

I remember writing a book when I was about 17. I then lost confidence in it and destroyed it. Oh how I wish I hadn't done that! I have no idea if it was any good or not. I often dream of writing my autobiography, but as I'm not famous, who would read it? Instead I've bought two memory books, one for each grandchild. I'm going to fill them in with all the family history and some photos. A mini autobiography.

annemac101 Mon 31-Mar-14 09:50:44

I'm so glad you started writing as I love your books. I enjoy writing too although I don't think I have a book in me I am going to writing everything I remember about my life for my children and grandchildren. Maybe one day someone in the family will want to know what my life was like.

EmilyHarburn Wed 02-Apr-14 19:16:54

I do hope that inishowen's memory books excite her grandchildren's desire for more stories. Then perhaps she will write her memoires composed of short stories developed around their interests. Relate each story to its historical background and before she knows where she is she will have a very readable memoir.

Then publish it as an e book for a kindle. Make sure that we all know on gransnet where to find it and you can be assured that we will be keen to down load a sample and probably most of us will buy a copy.

Good Luck