It should be obvious to anyone who has read my novels – my first, The Choice, my second, The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose and my third, A Man of Understanding – that I have a strong background in Philosophy. I gained two degrees in Philosophy from University College, London and I’m proud to say that I received a First for my postgraduate thesis on Kant and Hume in 1992. I was also awarded three Scholarships: a John Stuart Mill Scholarship, a Dawes Hicks Scholarship and a Jacobsen Scholarship. The study of Philosophy stimulates me in a way that no other subject does.
The following year, my father died. I was living in South Kensington at the time, as were my parents. I lived in South Kensington and Chelsea for many years – much of my adult life. The loss of my father was a tragedy for my mother and me, the experience of which has influenced my writing, but not in a depressing, sombre way, as that would not do justice to the witty, positive man my father was. A clergyman by profession, he married my mother, a fashion model, and I was the result of their beautiful union. My parents always made our home an interesting place to be, filled with lively, intelligent debate and witty conversation and a vibrant enthusiasm for life which I assumed, as I was growing up, would never end. It is especially hard as an only child to lose a parent who is still young and full of life.
That same year, I gained a place at the College of Law in London and converted to Law, receiving a Commendation. I then spent two years in the City at a top ten Commercial Law Firm. There I met my husband, who is a Commercial Property and Planning lawyer. I qualified as a solicitor in 1997. However, I didn’t find the work as stimulating as I had hoped, so I transferred to the Bar and practised as a barrister, having been called to the Bar (the Inner Temple) in 1997. I enjoyed my life as a barrister – I found it a more natural partnership with my philosophical training.
Yet I still sought something more – a way of expressing myself and my intellect creatively. So I decided to devote myself full-time to writing, a career which had appealed to me from being a child, although I never imagined back then that my words would be translated into several languages, read, quoted and enjoyed throughout the world, nor that people of all ages would be influenced and encouraged by them.
I should add also that prior to going to University, having left school with an impressive number of O and A levels, I was a successful Fashion Model, represented by one of London’s leading model agencies. I was photographed for many high-fashion magazines (Vogue, Brides, Cosmopolitan etc), working with top photographers including David Bailey, Bardo Fabiani and Bill Ling (see a selection of photographs below), and appearing in fashion shows for designers such as Calvin Klein and Roland Klein. It gave me the opportunity to travel to many parts of the world on photographic assignments and for fashion shows, and to use my languages (I speak French, German and Spanish).
Does this somewhat eclectic mix of careers make me difficult to categorize? I hope so. I don’t believe in fitting neatly into boxes, which is probably why my writing doesn’t either. We are not put on Earth to be types, but tokens, each with our individual gifts which we should continue to evolve throughout our lives. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise – unless you are happy with an unchallenging existence. And if that’s the case, then don’t read my books…