Books have been a major part of my life; I started reading when very young, like most people. I remember Jennifer Yellow-hat, Roger Red-hat and Billy Blue-hat among others in my primary school to titles such as The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler, which ended up being one of my favourite childhood books.
At school we obviously studied Shakespeare, as well as others such as Lord of the Flies (which I never want to read again – don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but not my cup of tea.)
In college, I studied the amazing Maya Angelou and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and this lead me on to reading the rest of her stunning autobiography. For my BA dissertation, I used her autobiographies to study conceptions of the self, and this research resulted in my supervisor asking me to help her with her forthcoming book on Sylvia Plath; unfortunately, I wasn’t mentioned in the book as helping, which still irks me to this day. University introduced me to Virginia Woolf and Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, and I was immediately struck by how they resonated with me. The writing, the imagery, goodness, I was hooked. It was here that I staged a dramatic reading of The Changeling by Charlotte Mew for an assignment. I remember collecting leaves and a candle to put on the floor of the seminar room, as well as dyeing my hair black. I don’t know why, it just felt right.
After university, I relocated to Tokyo, where I discovered Haruki Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto and Kazuo Ishiguro, all remarkable writers in their own right, but it was Murakami and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle that caught my attention. From here, I read the rest of his work. Moving forward a few more years, and I ended up in Moscow, and I started to devour books from the English language section of the Московский дом книги (Dom Knigi – House of the Book) on Novy Arbat Street. I can’t remember the majority of the authors I read, but it was here that I reintroduced myself to George Orwell; 1984, Animal Farm and his other, lesser-read works.
Fast forward a few more years, and I’m in London, about to start my MA in English at the University of Westminster. Introductions to Beowulf and other ancient works. And of course Virginia Woolf. Again. I suppose this is where the obsession really started. My dissertation focused on her diaries and letters, looked through the lens of Text World Theory.
Books and authors will always remind me of places I have been and situations I have been in. Then we come to now. My new career direction as a freelance editor and proofreader (and I suppose writer). Woolf features heavily again with my book coming out in June. I’ve been introduced to paranormal mystery comedy through my audiobook narration. I’ve been presented with the woman who attempted to assassinate Mussolini. Who knows what else I will be editing and what other writers I will discover.
That is the real pleasure of my new direction. Helping writers, whether they be established, new, non-native English, LGBTQ+, fiction, non-fiction. There’s a whole host of writing out there, and I’m determined to be at the forefront.