I was born in Liverpool, England, in 1966, have never met The Beatles, but did once talk to Paul McCartney’s brother.
My background is typical white working class, but not very Scouse. Growing up, I lived in a three-bedroom, terraced house in an average suburb of the city, with mum, dad and two older brothers, and I went to a small primary school followed by an all-girls’ comprehensive school. After gaining some O-Levels and A-Levels, I reluctantly went to the University of Liverpool to study English Language and Literature. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
I was always considered quite bright. At primary school I was top of the class nearly all of the time; in secondary school in the top five or six; but when I got to university I realised I wasn’t as clever as I thought. Although I enjoyed reading the classics, especially Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy, a lot of the literature lectures went over my head. I threatened to leave university every end of term, but faced with a life on the dole decided to stick with it, and eventually left with a Desmond (a 2:2). Still, exams were harder in those days…
My mum was once a primary school teacher but in my formative years worked in the local sweet shop, which is why I spent most of my childhood eating vast amounts of Cadbury’s chocolate and Walker’s crisps. My waistline still hasn’t recovered (thanks, mum). Mum knew everyone in the neighbourhood – a five-minute walk usually took her an hour, due to chatting to everyone in the street.
My dad had various careers in his time, first as a cinema manager, then working in a gas showroom (remember them? They used to sell cookers and stuff). He was unemployed for a year (I got free school meals) before a very short stint as a security worker down at Liverpool Docks. This he hated with a passion (“They play Radio City all night and steal stuff when no-one’s looking”) so he gave it up and finally became a funeral director. This suited his sympathetic but rather serious personality, and he did this job until he retired.
Mum was, and still is, a very caring and loving mum, but dad was the one who gave me the love of reading and writing. A self-educated man who left school at 14 and was in the Army during World War 2 (despite being a pacifist – fortunately, he never saw action; unfortunately, he went to India and it made him ill), he read widely, played chess and loved opera and cricket (two likes he didn’t pass on to me). In his retirement, he started writing a novel based in a cinema – in pencil, in his typical indecipherable scribble.
Dad died in 1995, at the age of 68, and although he got to see me start my career in journalism it makes me sad to think how proud he would have been today as I am publishing my novels.
After leaving university with my degree clutched in my hands, I got my first job as a reporter with the Merseymart newspaper. A free, weekly paper, it had a small office in Allerton Road, Liverpool – right next door to Penny Lane. We used to watch coach-loads of Japanese tourists arrive at the corner, photograph the street sign, then get back on the coach.
The Merseymart job mainly involved re-writing press releases, and writing news stories and features about local issues (lost dogs, planning applications, council meetings, etc etc – see www.framleyexaminer.com for more examples). I also had my own Arts Page, where I previewed/reviewed gigs and events. After a couple of years the paper got taken over by a larger company, we merged with the Liverpool Star, and I went to work in Liverpool city centre.
I later went on to become a sub-editor with the Wirral News, based in Birkenhead, Wirral, then briefly worked on the now-defunct Liverpool Daily Post before being moved to a new Commercial Editorial Unit, again as a sub-editor. The unit wrote and designed advertising features and special publications/supplements for a large number of newspapers owned by media giant Trinity Mirror, including the Liverpool Echo. Our department was made redundant in June, 2015.
I always wanted to be an author. I have written stories and poems, on and off, since I was old enough to know how. I started several novels over the years and loved writing as part of my job (even as a sub-editor I used to volunteer to do writing assignments if the subject took my fancy – or if there was free food or travel involved!)
I am married to my second husband, a butcher (he brings home the bacon), and have a teenage daughter to my first husband, an annoying cat and lots of fish, who are easier to ignore. We live in a semi-detached house in Meols, Wirral, which is a rather nice place to live, just a mile from the beach.
Whole New World[s] is my first completed novel. I wrote it while working part-time, with the aim of getting my book-hating, then 11-year-old daughter, to read. It didn’t work, but I did read it to her. She liked it.
I hope you like it too. Running, the second in the Parallel Universe adventures, has just been published. My daughter hasn’t read that, either…
Pam Bloom, 2016