Hello. The shortest version of all you need to know about Vicky Booker is that my prime week on Twitter was when I was followed by three writers, one historian, one Welsh estate agent who posts stunning pictures, and a gin distillery. Seriously; that encapsulates most of my tweets and blog content alarmingly well.
This picture is the one I have been using as my on line presence for at least four years and it’s therefore a bit out of date. I certainly have more chins, wrinkles and grey hair now but can still fit in the same walking outfit. This page has been mildly cannibalised from my very first blog post, other posts which probably tell you more about me than you could ever wish to know can be found by clicking on any of the pictures here.
A brief third person bio would say something like: After man years as a University administrator, Vicky now lives in the cluttered chaos of a house dominated by two small children and all the housework she ignores while trying to write. Having submitted her first romance to Mills & Boon when she should have been revising for A levels she has since lived, loved, read and written a good deal more and is now writing Romantic Suspense set in the UK. She lives in the glorious Worcestershire countryside whose hills and wildlife offer constant inspiration for her small town/rural community/British cowboy stories where natural elements create as much danger and suspense as the bad guys and where rugged, hard-working, honourable heroes and heroines find love.
The longer version is something like: I grew up in a small town on the edge of the Cotswolds and my childhood mostly involved long walks, hills, woods, mud, ponies and books. After a degree in Ancient and Medieval History at Cardiff University (with too few excursions further into Wales and plenty of mud on archaeological digs), then 15 years living and working in Oxford (pretty, too flat and good for murders if you believe fiction and drama) I have ended up in the wilds of Worcestershire. Again within tantalising distance of proper Welsh mountains and where as soon as you walk out of the door you have to go up or down a steep hill. And where there’s mud. I live with my partner Dr J who is a University lecturer, our two small exhausting daughters and a ginger fiend in the shape of a cat.
I have been lucky enough to always live in homes full of books, even when all I had was one room in a shared house I would surround myself with bookshelves and could retreat from even the noisiest student party to my world of words. Writing this blog has had me recalling so many early book related memories:
Hiding behind curtains on a very narrow windowsill to read in peace while my friends played hide and seek
Reading under the bedcovers with a torch
My mum impressing on me how fragile her old copy of the Iliad was when I wanted to read a version without pictures
Keeping a book in the medicine cupboard in the downstairs toilet to read while on the loo
Trying to hide a book under a napkin on my lap to read while eating breakfast.
The fact I can picture all those scenes far clearer than the faces or names of some of those friends tells you probably more than I would like (I remember sighing each time I had to close my book at break time to talk to a teacher when they asked me yet again why I wasn’t playing with other children “because I would rather read, thank you” (the fact I’m a rubbish runner was incidental, honest.))
I soon started continuing my favourite stories in my head, and occasionally on paper – I guess it was an early version of fan fic, which sounds better than “rewriting them in current day with me as the heroine” – including the Famous Five and a version of My Friend Flicka set in Wales (I can remember spending more time drawing the farm and fields and mountains, and listing all the ponies colours and characteristics than actually writing a plot – something I can still be tempted by.)
Apart from books, my other early passion was horses and as soon as I was old enough I would walk to meet the semi-wild ponies living on the hill above us. I had devoured every pony book in the library – including the technical ones – long before I was allowed to have riding lessons (and as with so many things in life learned that theory and practice are very different things). Pony stories (I had over 300 by my teens) were what I wanted to write, and then I discovered Mills and Boon books and the similar pattern to so many of my beloved horse books captured me – the heroine was pony-less at the start, would work hard, learn, take many falls, almost lose hope (and maybe the pony) and finally triumph at the local show. Obviously they weren’t all like that, and I’m not saying I compare heroes to horses – although a good ride is essential – but the familiarity and endless variety within a relatively compact book inspired and captivated me.
I actually submitted my first attempt at a romance to Mills and Boon when I should have been doing A level homework – and hence failed most of them and my book was deservedly rejected (it was, I now realise, simply a first draft with no plot, no conflict and no black moment. All it really had was a nice description of the Greek island of Cos).
My next submission was over ten years later and its rejection led me to join the Romantic Novelist’s Association and to look on line for advice. Finding the forums with their seemingly infinite amount of help and advice in the community at harlequin.com changed my writing life, not least in meeting other aspiring writers, many of whom are now published and quite a few I have been lucky enough to meet and drink with in real life. My love of category romance and linked romance series has grown and this is where my reading and writing tastes are currently happiest, especially in the US style of contemporary small town and cowboy based stories, which I am trying to transplant to a very British location without losing the gritty determination and the breathtaking natural beauty and danger.