June Oldham

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About the author

Here are a few autobiographical details. Naturally they are edited (by me) otherwise I might risk accusations of libel, obscenity or doubtful taste. Those were points I was required to look for when I was a free-lance reader of manuscripts submitted to a literary agent, but despite diligent scrutiny, I never came upon any examples. I found that disappointing.
June Oldham  (photo Sue Piper)

Photograph: Sue Piper

I was brought up in a village in Lincolnshire which later provided background for two of my novels. From my mother's village school I passed the examination which we called the scholarship, and travelled each day to a grammar school in Lincoln. At this time I had few ambitions except to catch the bus and escape the eyes of punitive prefects, but people had the habit of asking, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' I found that the answer: 'A writer,' produced a satisfactory silence. No-one ever enquired how I meant to go about this, which was lucky since I had no idea. Then one evening inspiration struck and I knocked up half an exercise book of poems. Proudly I showed them to my English teacher; she was too overwhelmed to comment but contrived to stammer out advice not to neglect my homework. So a potential poet laureate was nipped in the bud. After that, I scribbled stories on the bus going home but I never got as far as a plot, probably because I had not thought of one. At university I wrote some more. I have erased all memory of these except a horrible embarrassment.

I cannot claim that I was truly serious about writing until several years later when I left teaching in order to concentrate on a novel I had in mind. I sent it to publishing houses and received the mass produced rejection slips. Consigning the script to a cupboard I wrote across the title page: 'A novel not good enough to be published as literature and not bad enough to be published as anything else.' It was a fair judgement but you will detect a hint of bitterness. This disappointment caused me to give up writing and go in for babies which I found just as difficult. Eventually as the anarchy of our household was tempered by my civilising influence (I am keeping this web site a secret from our children) I was able to return to writing. The rejection slips were replaced by letters, none of them libellous, obscene or in doubtful taste, and I began to be published. On the following pages you can read about these books-- for young people as well as some for adults.

Full length novels take quite a time to write and long before that there is the thinking and possibly research. But during rests between books I have been a judge for the Constable trophy, taught in a gaol, held writing residences, organised a literature festival, wasted a lot of hours doing housework and watched our babies grow into humorous children and companionable adults. Occasionally I visit writing groups, libraries and schools to give talks or lead workshops and I study any subject that takes my fancy. I enjoy the cinema and theatre, a taste for the latter encouraged by my actor husband.

Despite these interests and occupations, I am never really satisfied unless I am working on a book, preferably very different from the previous one. I will keep you in touch.

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