Penny Luker

Profile and Background – I started adult life by having two children; one when I was seventeen and the second when I was eighteen. Although just about everyone told me I had ruined my life I just didn’t believe them. The children, now grown with children of their own, have always been my raison d’être.

When the children were old enough I trained to be a teacher but was unable to get a teaching job so went to work at The Land Registry and enjoyed my time there, meeting some fabulous people. Ten years later I decided to see if I could get into teaching again. I worked as a teacher for eight years and then as a headteacher for a further seven. I loved my teaching years and was never bored. Children offer us a different way to look at the world and are full of unspoilt imagination. During this time I wrote stories and plays for the classes I worked with, but I also filled diaries with poems which I completely forgot about until I retired.

At the end of this time, I became an associate lecturer for The Open University, teaching about the primary curriculum, training teaching assistants and nursery nurses and teaching about the differences that children experience around the world, so for a further eight years my life was spent buried in books and research.

Why? – When I retired I found loads of poems on odd pages in diaries and notebooks and as I had no work to do I started writing and attended a course at the former Mid-Cheshire College. I also took a number of writing courses with The Open University. Thinking back I have always told stories.

When? – I suppose I’ve been writing seriously for the last ten to fifteen years, but really I’ve been writing or telling stories all through my life. I am a prolific reader and there are many family photos of me with my head stuck in a book. I think the two disciplines go together; reading and writing.

Where? – Although our house isn’t big, both my husband and I have worked from home so we created a study for each of us. I now use mine for writing. I also have a writing shed in the garden, which I only use in the warmer weather, but I will write anywhere. There are many poems that have been born in the middle of the night or on long journeys.

What? – Poetry was my first love and what I studied in the beginning. Even now I’m part of a poetry writing group led by John Lindley. I also write short stories, novels and children’s books.

The short stories came about because of courses I studied and being a member of The Winsford Writers’ Group. We’re always writing short stories. Most of my life I’ve enjoyed reading Whodunnits and I have an unfinished book in that genre. More recently I’ve been reading fantasy novels and I’ve now written two YA fantasy novels. The children’s books started because of my grandchildren. I decided I wanted to write a book for each of them, which I have done, but there are more to come (children’s books – not grandchildren).

How? – I am a spasmodic writer. I have many caring responsibilities and those have to come first. I try to book up time to write and let people know, so the family can give me some space. I find that being a member of writing groups is helpful because it gives you targets for finishing and makes writing a regular experience. I also write at odd moments or when there’s something on the television I don’t want to watch. 

The first draft is no trouble at all. Words just spill onto the page. It’s the editing and proofreading stages I’d rather skip. Unfortunately, these are crucial for a successful writer.

I never write by hand from choice. I prefer to use my laptop. 

Writer’s Block? – My problem is the opposite. I have so many ideas in my head, that there are not enough hours in the day to get them down. At the moment I have a poetry book, a book of short stories and three novels on the go. If you’re stuck for an idea, read a heading out of a newspaper, look at titles of books or ask questions, e.g. Who painted that vase blue? There’s a story in everything.

Other Interests? –I love to draw and paint with all sorts of media and make textile pictures. I also play the piano and ukulele extremely badly. I try to exercise every day. My treadmill has just died so I’m exploring the joys of dance with Darcy Bussell – ‘Diverse Dance Mix’ on video. I’m sure it’s meant for younger people. Oh and I read a lot! 

Author blog: