Cindy Jefferies

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[NB. Click on any of the photographs to see a larger version]

My mother was Irish and my father was English. He had been sent away to school, and was used to cocktail parties and tennis afternoons, cricket and the theatre in London. My mother was brought up in a small village in rural Northern Ireland. She spent her early childhood playing with her cousins on her uncle’s little hill farm, where they were able to run wild, make campfires and not go home until dark. In spite of these differences, my parents were very happy together, and brought us up to believe we could be whatever we wanted as long as we worked hard. As a result I love the theatre, cocktail parties and camp-fires!

I was born in Cirencester, and although I moved away for a while, I have been back in Gloucestershire for over twenty years. I was born in 1951. Here is a picture of my christening day. My poor brother Chris looks rather fed up having to pose for so many photographs! The person on the left is my grandmother. She had been a model in London as a young woman and was always very well turned out.

Here is a picture of my christening day - click to see larger version

The earliest photo of me with a book - click to see larger version

This is the earliest photograph of me with a book. Our parents were both very good at reading to us when we were little. I can still remember enjoying looking at the pictures, even before I really understood what the stories were about. Unfortunately, neither Chris nor I can remember what this particular book was called. Do let me know if you can identify it!

As soon as I learned to read I wanted to write stories. I was always telling tall tales to my two younger sisters, and I still have a ridiculous ‘newspaper’ I wrote about my older brother’s friends, including Colin Flooks, who later became the famous rock drummer Cozy Powell.

A ridiculous 'newspaper'  I wrote - click to see larger version

There was always laughter and music in our house. My brother played piano, my youngest sister played piano and cello, my middle sister and I strummed guitars and we all sang. Sometimes we used to be able to persuade our Father to play the piano too, like he did in the war for dances. He played things like 'Run Rabbit Run', and brilliant boogie-woogie. I used to make up silly songs about members of my family for special birthdays and visits. I was very lucky to live in a very happy family.

In those days not many people went on foreign holidays. We usually went to Wales or to my mother’s family in Northern Ireland. Here we are at the beach on a windy day in Borth.

At the beach on a windy day in Borth - click to see larger version

In Wales we stayed in one of Queen Victoria’s railway coaches, which was sitting in a farmer’s field. He put a tin roof on the carriage and attached a veranda to one side and a lean-to kitchen on the other.

One of Queen Victoria’s railway coaches - click to see larger version

There was plenty of room for us all, and the interior was beautifully constructed with elaborate brass door handles, wood paneling, and framed photographs of Victorian seaside places on the walls.

The interior was beautifully constructed - click to see larger version

Some years later the coach was restored and put in a museum.

I enjoyed writing plays as well as stories, and one about Charles the Second was performed by my class at primary school. My favourite lessons were always English, History and Art. I was terrible at Maths and French!

School photo - click to  see larger version

After leaving school I still wanted to be a writer, but none of the stories and articles I wrote got published, so I went to the Roehampton Institute in London, to be a teacher instead. I only lasted a year, and then left.

I kept writing short stories, none of which were published, and one long, very bad novel that still lies at the bottom of my filing cabinet. And I had a variety of jobs, none of them anything to do with writing. I worked in a china shop, a pub, and as a DJ. I sold junk antiques (I couldn’t afford proper ones!) made Venetian masks, and started an employment agency.

Then I started a bookselling business, which sold books to schools.

I started a bookselling business - click to see larger version

It did really well, but after several years I got so annoyed with selling other people’s books I started grumbling to my family about still being a frustrated writer. My youngest son suggested I wrote a book for him, so I did. It was an historical fantasy, based on the old farmhouse we lived in, and the ancient standing stones at Avebury. I loved doing the research, and turning it into a fantastical story.

Sebastian's Quest - click to see larger version

That story became Sebastian’s Quest, and was published by Barry Cunningham, the person who discovered JK Rowling. I sold my business and concentrated on writing. After half a lifetime I’d finally got to do what I’d always wanted!

Now I work in a sunny room, or in the conservatory overlooking the garden, and write most days. During time off I like to visit old houses and castles, museums and art galleries. It’s not just seeing old things I like. It’s just as much fun having tea in a cafe and people watching. Apart from that, I love spending time with my family. I have three grown up children and two grand-children, so life is busy. I love reading books with my little grandson and was very excited when he said his very first word while sitting on my lap. It was…book!

My grandson Will - click to see larger version

[NB. Click on any of the photographs to see a larger version]

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Page last updated 14 November, 2011