Wendy was born in West Sussex, in the south of England. She previously worked in hospitals, general practice and palliative care before starting a family, at which point she made the decision to step back from medical life to concentrate on being a mum and author.
She lives in a little village in Herefordshire with her husband and two boys. Wendy has published 7 books, 3 separate novels that are all about the casualties of love and and the charming, heartwarming and emotional Echoes of Nutt Hill series. Here’s what readers have said about her books in this link.
As it’s February it felt timely to feature our Doctor turned Novelist who writes about love and heartbreak and uncover her uplifting account of how her writing career started with a mysterious dream…
You said that one night changed your life and a dream inspired you to write. Can you share some more details of this experience, what was the spark that inspired you to write?
It’s hard to remember the details all these years later, but it was a dream about a romantic encounter at a glamorous ball. I remember waking up and lying there thinking what would have happened if I’d stayed asleep. It captured my imagination in a way I hadn’t experienced in years. I used to write down my dreams when I awoke as a child and so I can remember many of those, but this one held me captive. I thought of it often from then on. What would have happened? How had she got there? What might have happened in the story before that point? My mind began to obsess about it and in the end I had to write it down just to clear space in my mind to think of more. I wrote every night for 6 months until I had written around 55,000 words.
My dad encouraged me to send it off to agents. As I had nothing to lose I sent it off. I had no luck! It was a first novel and not my best, but it got me inspired and motivated. These days that manuscript lurks in an unmarked grave, but the next novel was a little better and the next, better still. My fourth novel one was the one to get published. And it was all thanks to that mysterious dream and my Dad’s encouragement.
What drives you to write emotional love stories?
I think it is the suffering. There is a beautiful correlation between the amount someone suffers and their potential for growth. Having worked in Medicine, I suppose I have seen more than my fair share of suffering and it is normally in the most emotional times that people’s kindness really shines. I love to be moved. If a story makes me cry, it’s a winner for me. At Medical School, I had an interest in forensic pathology, so you might have thought I’d gravitate towards thrillers, but there is something about falling in love that pulls me back time and again. You could say I’m in love with love. Maybe I am, but it’s the kind of love that’s eternal. I’m devoted to it, and I will never give it up.
Describe where you write.
At my dining room table that looks out onto countryside. I write on my laptop, on my battered old pine kitchen table. When the house is quiet and I’m on my own and free to write, I sit there with the open view of countryside, a pint of water saying ‘sit down and write’ and my notepad of plot and ideas. There is no timetable to it. I write when I can and when I want to. Kids holidays don’t work very well. I need peace and quiet. I most enjoy being able to write my stories and live other lives without ever leaving my home…
Coming up with ideas however, happens elsewhere; usually in bed at night – paper and pen sit close by – or whilst I’m cleaning the house, listening to emotional music. Those are my two main thinking times.
What advice would you give someone writing a debut novel?
They say write what you know, but it was exactly when I didn’t that I got published, so I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. But if it’s a debut and you are aiming to get published, there are things that can help. You should aim for 80-90,000 words (or whatever your genre requires) and make sure it fits an obvious category. Some publishers will say they consider cross-genre work, but the more mainstream your novels looks, the more likely they will be to sell it.
Tell us about your transition from working in the medical field to entering the creative arena of fiction writing.
I was raising my children for about 8 years between being a doctor and being a novelist. A lot of my medical experiences seep into my work. My family tease me about the amount of people I kill off or admit to hospital in my stories, so in some ways there’s obviously no great leap away from ‘write what you know’ for me. My only struggle was with my editors over medical stuff; when they wanted me to write something that I knew to be medically inaccurate, even though it might have made a better or more saleable story.
Fiction extract from Sun on Sundays… An Echoes of Nutt Hill novel
Thinking back, Carrie-Ann could not remember a time when she hadn’t been in love with Tom. It had always been there, inside her; a private yearning that could never be released. Tom was six years older than her, quietly spoken and kind. He was from a well-to-do family in the village and had never looked at her in any way that would give her reason to hope, but hope she had. Quietly, and without any real expectation, it lingered; like the lazy glow of dying embers at the end of a winter’s night. And in being so, it warmed her dreams and kept her breathing.
From the library window, she watched him, her face half-shielded by the heavy velvet curtains there. He was a farm manager now, working on the Pemberton’s farm, a mere 300 yards away from where she was sitting, but for all the good it had done her, it might as well have been 300 miles.
She had hoped, when she’d started at the hill, that working up there would mean she’d get to see a little more of Tom, but alas, it seemed not. At least Maggie was interesting to spend time with and she had a fascinating collection of books in her library, so as she waited for her heart to be opened, she was bound by obscurity, to take each day as it came.
And now, after months of waiting, at last, here he was, talking to Joe, the gardener, on the far side of the lawn. Quietly, she looked across at Maggie, deeply engrossed in a book in her favourite corner of the room and satisfied of her privacy, turned back. She felt her heart shiver as she allowed herself to bask in the warmth of the sight outside, a few moments spent blissful unobserved.
Tom was standing with one hand in his pocket, a long-standing habit of his she’d often noticed. He was wearing dark grey cargo pants and a cream granddad-collar shirt tucked in at the belt, his sleeves were rolled up to the elbows and his hair had that slightly scruffy look she loved about him; it said, ‘I started out neat enough, but it’s been a long day’.
As she watched, she saw Tom laugh at something Joe said and she smiled. If only there could be more moments like this, she thought and her patient heart blinked at the light. What must it be like to look on this man and have him smiling down at you, she wondered; to have his eyes warm at the sight of you, and to know you were his.
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Finding Sarah is an emotionally captivating story of love, life and everything in between.
With her house sold from under her, Sarah finds herself moving to a small cottage in the country in order to make ends meet, but soon befriends, Maggie, the matriarch of Nutt Hill, a Texan and hopeless romantic.
But when Sarah meets a new man, her idyllic new life seems set to fracture.
Two very different souls searching for peace. One entire parish watching. And in a small country village, nothing stays private for long…
Sun on Sundays is an emotionally compelling tale of family, friendship and hope. Carrie-Ann is 19 and in love with Tom; she always has been, yet their worlds only touch every other weekend. She had thought that by agreeing to work on Nutt Hill she would get see him far more. Unfortunately that didn’t seem to be the case. But Maggie is a sucker for young love and despite Carrie-Ann keeping her years of yearning close to her chest, one day Tom turns up on the hill. Will he ever see her the way she wants to be seen? Sometimes these things need a helping hand… The second Echoes of Nutt Hill novel.
A deeply emotional love story from the author of By My Side. Luke is the man with the money, the fast car and the hot woman. There’s no way he would even think about getting serious, but a face he can’t remember soon threatens his calm. Rebecca isn’t interested in a relationship, and definitely not with him. How could she, after all he put her through? She’s spent the last 4 years hiding away from society, a one woman crusade for children’s road safety. Who would have thought one fateful day, it might almost be her … again. As two worlds collide, will opposites attract? Not if she can help it. The third Echoes of Nutt Hill novel.
An Echoes of Nutt Hill novel. Perfect for fans of Joanna Trollope. Exiled to the country for bad behaviour, what did he expect? Certainly not her. Tristan’s mother is planning one last ditch attempt to reform her son. He is removed to the country where he meets Michelle, or tries not to. The woman is not worth the shoes on his feet, or so he believes at first, but Michelle has a great deal she can teach him and she doesn’t wait long to start. ‘You mustn’t fall for his charms,’ they said. ‘You will never fit into his life.’ Can she change him enough to have a shot at the dream? Thrust together, the two spark-up a tenuous friendship, and so the journey begins.