Hi. My name is Rosamunde Bott. I am an independent author and professional genealogist. This page is about me, how I started writing, and how my interests have inspired and influenced my writing.
Writing, finding the time to write as well as earning a living, sometimes finding the energy to write on top of life’s other challenges, are difficulties that are, I am sure, shared by many other aspiring writers. I hope that my own story, and the posts on my blog, will resonate with others and encourage other writers to keep going, to keep being inspired, and to keep writing, no matter what life throws at you!
When I was a child, my father brought me a book called The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. I was completely enthralled. I loved Narnia and the talking animals, and I loved the idea of moving from our world into a totally different one. I was absolutely delighted when I discovered that there was another one called Prince Caspian, which I also ate up, and then imagine how I felt when I realised there were five more! The Chronicles of Narnia became my favourite and much cherished books, and I have read them over and over again, both as a child, and as an adult. I still own that original copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and you can see that it is well-used! I am not religious, and I know that there is much religious symbolism and idealism within these books – but it really does not matter. The ideals and values of Narnia and of Aslan the Lion are ones I still hold true today.
Many years later (after I had tried out a career in acting, given up, and become a secretary!) I still felt the call of that magical land, and still with that child-like desire to visit the land of Narnia, I decided to create my own world. It was 1991 and the first Gulf War had just started. Saddam Hussain was burning fires and I felt that those palls of black smoke across the middle east were deeply symbolic, shutting out the light of free spirit, enlightenment and compassion. I started to write The Light of Drombar. However, it would be many years before I finished that. I put it to one side unfinished because I thought it was too derivative, and would be unpubishable. But a few years later I happened to meet an expert on C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien (who was to go on to write many books on these two), and he kindly read my draft and told me I should continue to write it, and there was no reason that it should not be published. I therefore completed it, and after many years of having it bounce back from publishers and agents, I decided to publish it myself.
History and Genealogy
Funnily enough, I was not particularly interested in history at school. In my day, we were not really taught social history – it was all boring political events, battles and dates. However, in my early twenties, I did start reading history books, and found the lives of the kings and queens of England far more interesting than I had ever found them at school. It was then that I started looking at the genealogical structure of the Royal Family – which led to a fascination with genealogy. I started constructing family trees, and began to trace my mother’s ancestry (my uncle had done much of my paternal line).
When I was 30 I decided to start doing an Open University Degree. With a family background in the theatre and art, and having always been interested in the Arts, particularly, theatre and books, it was the obvious choice to do an Arts degree, and my main focus was on English Literature and History. Six years later I achieved a First Class Honours Degree, and it was quite soon after this that I decided to put some of my new-found history knowledge to good use, and became a professional genealogist.
It was also while doing my degree that I re-kindled my interest in writing. My first attempt at an adult novel was a short novel called Portrait of Emily about a portrait of a Victorian lady that has a strange effect on a contemporary woman, and sections of it were the diaries of the Emily of the title. It remains unpublished, though I might give it a go as a novella on Kindle one of these days. However, I see that novel as more of a writing exercise. Finishing my first full-length story (I had written several short stories) gave me the confidence to continue and create something of a richer and longer content.
While I was doing research for a project I was working on as part of my degree, I came across some letters written by members of a travelling theatre company in the 1830s and 40s. I not only used them as part of my project, but they inspired a new novel – particularly one of the letter writers, whose name was Henry Hartley. My new novel (still unfinished!) was called Isobel Brite and follows the adventures of a shoemaker’s daughter who runs away to join the theatre and makes friends with Henry Hartley and his wife, as well as other real characters such as Charles Dickens. This novel has been taken off and put on a shelf again many times, but I am currently working on it once more, and hope to finish it some time in 2017.
In 2006 I sold my house in Daventry, and went back to renting. This released a whole load of capital which allowed me the luxury of working for a full six months as a writer. So I set out to write another novel that was itching to get going. All I knew was that I wanted to write about a house, to link to the history of women going back in time, and to have some kind of magic or element of fantasy in it. I came up with the character of Will, a man who has lived without ageing for 200 years. This idea became Out of Time, and I published it three years ago, and am currently re-publishing for Amazon. I get regular sales – though nothing that will get me on that Mediterranean Cruise I dream about – but that’s due to lack of marketing, and I have had very good feedback from readers.
Articles and Blogs
As well as writing fiction, I have written many articles about history, genealogy, personal development and health. I have had several articles published in well-known family history magazines, and have a genealogy website where I write the occasional blog post (when I have time!). I have also worked from time to time as a freelance, and have written for various personal development and travel websites. I researched and wrote many of the London Stories for the website Wanderstories. These are all ways of keeping the writing ‘muscle’ active, whilst earning a bit of extra money – but my real love is fiction.
Getting the Balance Right
One of the main difficulties in my life has been the struggle to balance writing and earning a living. I have had many jobs, which include box office clerk, dresser, stage manager, actress, secretary, receptionist, learning support assistant and special needs lecturer, and finally, professional genealogist. During most of these various jobs I was trying to find the time to write. Much of the time it was not easy. I wrote on trains and buses, in waiting rooms and staff rooms. Being self employed makes things a little easier – but there is so much to do in running a business, that it is not as easy as it sounds to find the time and the energy to write as well!
Added to that, I have suffered from moderate ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) for the last 16-17 years, which means that it is even more difficult to find the energy to write on top of a full time day-job (I am currently on a 9 month recovery programme, so I am very hopeful of a full recovery in due time). I am also currently the official carer for my mother, who suffers from dementia.
With my 60th birthday looming up on the horizon in a couple of years, I decided recently that it was about time I put my writing first instead of putting it behind everything else. So, I decided to forget publishers and agents, and officially become an independent author, re-publish Out of Time and The Light of Drombar on Amazon, get myself a proper author website, and get writing seriously, and finish Isobel Brite. Oh yes, and there’s another big novel I’m working on called Legacies which will be a bit of a historical mystery thriller, which I am hoping to finish within the next couple of years. Watch this space.