I started writing my first book at the age of nine. I got as far as the end of chapter one. As I recall, the chapter was all of two handwritten pages long. My mother thought it was wonderful and kept it for years. She probably still has it.
As the years passed, I kept writing. Entries in my diary, some (terrible) poetry, a longish fairy tale, and some short stories made it out of my head and onto paper by the time I graduated from high school. I really wanted to get married right out of high school (school was not my favorite thing), but no one wanted to marry me. So I went to UCLA and majored in English with a minor in creative writing. More short stories came from that, but no husband. Stalling for time, I went to Cal State Northridge for graduate school (in English, naturally–I can’t do anything else). While there, I mananged to write a chapter for a textbook. This would have been nice to add to my writing credentials, except that it was a chapter on how to run a personnel office at a community college–a subject that inspires no confidence in editors and literary agents as to my abilities to write fiction.
Having gained an M.A., I settled down to teach English in a small Christian college. I got to teach literature, research and writing (the Freshman Comp. variety), and was so busy that I had no time to write anything but journal entries where I lamented my single state and hoped that I wouldn’t have to teach forever. At last I was set up on a blind date with an Irish seminary student who proposed after three months (and three dates!) and I got to give up my career and be a full-time homemaker. Loved it.
We moved to Ireland, and along with caring for the children that came along, I started to write again. This time I managed to write things that were longer than short stories! An adult novel, a children’s novel, and a devotional book for homeschooling moms (all published under another name) made it into print. Then I got the idea of writing Emma from Mr. Knightley’s point of view, and that little project took up a good portion of my spare time for the next four and a half years. At last the George Knightley, Esquire books are written, and I’m free to think about writing something else. We’ll see what develops…
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Interview on Jane Greensmith’s blog: Meet Barbara Cornthwaite, author of George Knightley, Esquire