Wendy Robertson: Educator and Storyteller,
Education has been at the core of my world for all of my life – not just as a shy working-class girl in schools, not just all that teaching in secondary and primary schools, not just all that tutoring and teaching in Higher Education, not just all that esoteric study of psychology and sociology in my mid30s to achieve my Masters Degree in Education. It stayed at the core even I made the decision to reject the University’s encouragement to sign up for a a doctorate and I decided focus on my first big adult novel after the series of published children’s novels gave me a calling card to the arcane world of London adult publishing. Stories, after all are the most ancient teaching tools in every culture.
teaching I embraced teaching as a creative enterprise but was always a writer
who happened to teach, publishing the children’s books while I was still
working as well as some short stories and some journalism. I have written
spasmodically about my own life in my short volume A Life In Short Pieces, in The Romancer:
A Writer’s Tale and most recently in Kaleidoscope:
Stories From The Frontier – an experimental blend of fiction and memoir.
This change in focus however set the pattern for the second half of my life where my scholarship and experience as an educator, a mother and a citizen was invested in the series of historical and contemporary novels.
I continue to be fascinated by creativity, history, identity, imagination, equality and myth. Recently, on looking through my novels I realise that – although not with any conscious purpose – these themes seem to be threaded through my writing. Many of my novels are bedded in my Northern Heritage but some are rooted in my experience of French, Spanish, Russian, and American history. If you look through the titles you will see what they are. For instance my novel Long Journey Home is set during the Spanish Civil War – a result of exploring my grandson’s Spanish heritage.
We all have especially significant points in our lives. In the middle of my full-time writing career I spent two days a week for five years as Writer in Residence in a women’s prison. This was a life-changing experience for me - broadening my view, deepening my empathy and my understanding of the whole of society.
One outcome of
that experience was my novel Paulie’s Web.
This, while fictional, tells some truths about the varied lives of many of the
interesting and wise women I met in prison. This was an intense, fascinating
and life-changing experience. While I was there I published a significant
collection of prisoners' writing called Why
Am I Running? And later she wrote novel emerging from that experience
called Paulie's Web.
It’s a particular pleasure for me to hear from readers in Britain and further afield that they enjoy my novels - that there is a connection between me and them. People sometimes ask me which of my novels they should start on. I keep asserting to everyone that every novel is different to the others. (One very nice man simply got the chronological list from the library and worked his way through them …)
I would suggest a more random approach:
You could start with
· Kitty Rainbow - early 20th century life in a South Durham town.
· Long Journey Home - small girl and her Chinese teacher are interned during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.
· Writing at the Maison Bleue - the lives of six very different writers are changed when they attend a writers workshop in the Languedoc in the south of France.
-Journey to Moscow. Olivia Ozanne travels
to post glasnost Moscow in search of a new self, uncovering this iconic city in
All of my books are in your library, out in paperback and on Kindle.
In recent years I’ve enjoyed writing short-line pieces which the those more expert than me tell me are poems. I am now working on a collection of more or less autobiographical poems called With Such Caution. This should be out in late 2020 or early 2021.
The act of writing eternally preoccupies me so here is a poem
Writing is the Sound of the Soul Breathing
Writing is the sound of the soul breathing -
it is measured, shapely, fully intended.
Every breath out predicates each breath in.
Each sentence brings forward another,
Every word generates the next leap in meaning
We breathe using words, lines, paragraphs,
in pages, in chapters, in volumes -
our lives are laid there in a million words -
all separated, well-formed, and
wondering about our world.
Writing is the notation of the quiet soul -
not blasted out by trumpets and clarinets -
it is dark smoke in the air, rising -
leaving the words lying there, just
waiting for your eye.
The words lie there in formation,
waiting for you to add your world
to my notation creating a different world,
new to your soul and mine,
A Few Views and Reviews.
‘Not only is Wendy Robertson a great storyteller, she fills her books with characters with real depth’ Northern Echo
‘Skilfully marries fact and fiction into an epic tale that has you turning the pages at high speed to match the pace of this compelling story.’ Sunderland Echo
‘A blend of accessibility and total sincerity’ Pat Barker
‘Wendy Robertson is a rare breed – a writer with an exquisite gift for creating vivid, relatable female characters’ Scottish Daily Record
‘A terrific read. A world on the cusp of change and we experience it intimately.’ Historical Novels Review
NB. In recent years as well as writing her novels, have given regular master-classes and workshops across the North and through the years I have adjudicated many national writing competitions. Also before the Covid lockdown I mentored new writers
and spoke at writing workshops
@ Wendy Robertson 2020
Contact: email email@example.com
I write about her world on my blog Writing Life Twice Tasted http://lifetwicetasted.blogspot.co.uk/