Guest Blog: Jean Fullerton and Her Writing Life
Posted by Lizzie Lamb
We are delighted to welcome the lovely Jean Fullerton to our blog today. We put her on the spot and asked her a few questions about her life as a writer.
Tell us all about you
I was born and raised within the sound of Bow Bells in the East End of London and grew in the Jack the Ripper old stomping ground, Wapping and Whitechapel. I’m a District Nurse and have worked in East London for twenty-five years.
My first four novels No Cure for Love, A Glimpse at Happiness, Perhaps Tomorrow and Hold on to Hope were set in Victorian East London and were shortlisted and won various prizes.
Call Nurse Millie, was released in 2013, and All Change for Nurse Millie, a year later. There are also two seasonal novellas, Christmas with Nurse Millie and Easter with Nurse Millie. The third in the series, Fetch Nurse Connie has just been released.
I live with my very own Hero-at-Home, a massive Bernese Mountain Dog called Molly and two cats called Tilley and Fudge.
What is a typical writing day?
I wish I had one! Contrary to popular belief most of us still have day jobs. Mine is teaching nursing at a London University and I squeeze in at least four hours writing in the evening and am often am at my desk until 1 or 2 in the morning.
How does the writing process work for you?
As I weave at least six patients’ stories through Connie’s over-arching story so I plan extensively to help me evenly space Connie’s meeting with her patients, family and her ex-fiancé Charlie. Of course it changes as ideas come to me but it gives me a place to start.
I do the research as I go and I’m not a fast writer 1500 is a good day and that’s because I worry over every word and shift dialogue around as I go.
Social Networking – a help or a hindrance?
Both. It helps me keep in touch with writer friends and fans but can be very distracting especially when you’re in a knotty bit of the book. I make a rule that I allocate 2 hour block of writing time during which time I will not click onto the internet or emails.
Do you have some advice for fledgling authors?
Just write the story. That’s what keeps readers sitting up to the wee small hours not the writing techniques. That said, and although it might sound contradictory, you do have to perfect the craft and that is hard, very hard. If it weren’t everyone would do it but if you’re in love with storytelling, as I am, that will carry you through the pain.
What are your top five writing tips?
- Learn your craft-plot, pace, structure, characterisation, dialogue.
- Read your chosen genre as this will help with the above.
- Don’t force a character to act out of character.
- Everyone gets stuck on chapter 5 so just keep writing.
- Never, never, never give up.
Who or what has inspired you the most to become a writer?
Bestsellers that were rubbish- we’ve all read them and I’m absolutely not naming names. I thought ‘I must be able to do better than that.’ It’s for readers to decide if I have.
If not a writer – then what?
What I am a nurse and teacher. Despite all the back-breaking hard works, government-driven targets and out-of-touch management nursing is still the most rewarding job in the world.
Tell us a little bit about your love for the East end of London
It’s a bit difficult to explain the affinity I have with the place where I was born. I feel very privileged to have been born in a unique culture The Fullertons arrived in East London in the 1800s while the ‘O Rileys were later amongst the wave of Irish migration triggered by the potato famine. The area became legendary for its Blitz spirit and thanks to popularity of music malls, cinema, war-time radio and early TV the Cockney culture is an integral part of London’s identity.
Someone once said to me that I was lucky to be able to draw on such a rich heritage and they were right.
Tell us about your current book
Fetch Nurse Connie
Connie Byrne, a nurse in London’s East End working alongside Millie Sullivan from Call Nurse Millie, is planning her wedding to Charlie Ross, set to take place as soon as he returns from the war. But when she meets him off the train at London Bridge, she finds that his homecoming isn’t going to go according to plan.
Connie’s busy professional life, and the larger-than-life patients in the district, offer a welcome distraction, but for how long?
Available from Orion Fiction on kindle, paperback and hardback on 4th June 2015. Check it out on Amazon here
Some reviews of your work
‘A delightful, well researched story that depicts nursing and the living conditions in the East End at the end of the war’ (Lesley Pearce)
‘…The writing shines off the page and begs for a sequel’ (Historical Novel Society)
‘…you will ride emotional highs and lows with each new birth and death. Beautifully written with some sharp dialogue.’ (THE LADY) (59 words)
Finally – what are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on the second of Connie’s books, as yet untitled. She is still working in Spitalfields as the deputy Superintendent and has the usual collections of eclectic mix of patients to deal with. Now, I don’t what to give too much away but look out for the new GP, Dr Hari MacLauchlan, survivor of the infamous Burma Railway, who is six foot one and half-Scottish, half Indian. Need I say more?
Lizzie is so loving the sound of THAT one. Good luck with your writing Jean, and thanks for being a great guest on our blog.