Hi, I’m Rosalie Warren. My Scottish credentials are slightly dubious, but I’ve managed to bluff my way in anyway. I was born in Yorkshire but moved to Scotland at the age of 22 and lived first in Edinburgh and, later, just north of Dundee, for nearly twenty-five years. My children were born and brought up in Edinburgh and I did my PhD and taught at two universities there. Oh, and I always make sure I cook haggis on Burns’ Night, even now I live down south again. And I support the Jam Tarts… hope that’s enough!?
How to introduce myself? Well, I’m one of those annoying writers who wants a finger in every pie and a toe in every puddle. In other words, I like to try everything. In some cases, the experiment is short-lived, like my attempts to write poetry. And to be honest I’m not too hot on short stories either, though I do forget this once in a while and try one, to everyone’s embarrassment including my own.
My real love is the novel, and of course this gives me a fair bit of scope for experiment. I started by writing Charity’s Child, which was originally aimed at adults. However, it featured a teenage narrator and protagonist, which led me later to reclassify it as YA fiction (I’m still not quite sure). Charity’s Child was originally published by a small independent, Circaidy Gregory Press, but a few months ago, having regained the publication rights, I reissued it as an eBook. I’ve had some heartwarming reviews and am now working on a sequel, which is set twenty years later and which I expect to bring out as an eBook sometime next year.
The Charity in question is in her mid-teens, and a member of a fiercely evangelical church group in the early 1980s. It’s set in a tiny windswept seaside town on the Yorkshire coast of the UK – the kind of place where I spent many seaside holidays in my youth. The sea and the wind are important to the book, as they are to me. Charity becomes pregnant, and refuses to name the father. Suspicion falls on Alan, the assistant pastor of the church and a rather naive enthusiast for ‘the gifts of the Spirit’ and the like. But Charity soon begins to insist that the father of her child is no one other than God Himself. Joanne, Charity’s close friend and lesbian lover, has her doubts, but part of her wants to believe in Charity’s claims. The resolution of the mystery uncovers unpleasant secrets that have deep implications for a number of characters in the book, not least Joanne.
I found myself heavily involved with the people in the story as I told their tale. It’s not based, thankfully, on anything that happened to me, though the religious environment is a familiar one from my younger days. I suppose the story came out of one of those ‘what ifs?’ that writers set themselves… and I was shocked as any of my readers when the ending emerged in the first draft.
So perhaps it’s an issue-based book of the kind that are written for young adults – or perhaps the incorporation of an adult narrator from time to time knocks out that possibility? I can’t decide. If you read it, I’d love to know what you think.
I’ve also had a book published, Coping with Chloe (Phoenix Yard Books, 2011), that’s definitely for young teens. I’ve delved into romantic suspense with my novel for adults, Low Tide, Lunan Bay(Robert Hale 2009). And I’ve been commissioned by Phoenix Yard to write a series about a young boy and his robot, for 7-9s. (You’ll have realised by now that I’m an agent’s nightmare, which I’m sure is one reason why no agent has yet had the courage to sign me up. They come close, but then they back away…)
I’ve written another novel for adults, called Alexa’s Song, about a female musician who falls in love with an artist but then marries his brother. It could, I suppose, loosely be described as ‘women’s fiction’. I’ve had positive responses to my submissions, but I’ve also been told that its male narrator is ‘problematic’. Anyway, I’ve decided to bring out Alexa as an eBook, and it should be appearing once I have a cover, very soon.
I want to write serious, ‘literary’ fiction – to experiment with language and form. I want to write for babies, for reluctant readers, for older people and for everyone in between. I want to write issued-based books (I have a dream of writing a loosely linked series featuring children with various disabilities), but I also want to explore religion, the supernatural and the paranormal. I want to push the idea of an eBook as far as it will go. But I also want to write cosy, funny, chocolate-flavoured fiction of the kind I like to read on an off day when I need comforting.
Oh yes, and drama. I’m currently working on a play based on Coping with Chloe. I would absolutely love to see my work come alive on stage.
I’m well aware that I don’t have as much time left as I’d like, so I’d better get a move on. Perhaps it’s time to stop worrying what anyone thinks or how to label my books, but just get on and write them. I know… that goes against all the best advice. But I’m a rebel at heart, and if I ever find success within one set of rules I’ll only want to change them and start all over again.
Rosalie also appears at the Festival in the Auld Lums feature on 26th August