Jan Toms, Isle of Wight novelist and historian
I have been exploring the world of words for as long as I can remember. It took decades before I dared to think of myself as a writer, but for much of my waking life, this is what I do - write about and research the past.
I was eleven when I wrote my first book, a girlie tale of a pony called Princess and winning prizes at gymkhanas. Of course, I didn't have a horse in real life, but I made up for it later.
I returned to writing in what I will call "middle age." This was before computers, indeed before word processors and communication was by letter, carefully typed out, an envelope addressed and a stamp attached to the top right-hand corner. Writing as Janet Mary Tomson, I found a publisher and my first novels began to appear.
Much as I enjoyed writing novels and inventing things I also wanted to write more seriously about the past. it is indeed often stranger than fiction and I found myself digging into the sometimes turbulent history of the Isle of Wight. The Island is in my blood, literally, with ancestors on all sides coming from these shores.
Left: Great, great grandfather, Jacob Kent, brickmaker, a member of the Town Council, and a shareholder in Shanklin's first pier.
Perhaps the most fun was in researching a book on Animal Graves and Memorials. It was published at the time of a world cup and Waterstones manager had great fun in creating this window display Unfortunately the bok is now out of print.
My personal favourite is The Accidental Assassin, a tongue in cheek story of Victor, an unmarried tax officer who inadvertently kills a stranger thereby letting loose gang warfare on the Isle of Wight.
The older I get, the more there is to write about.
I indulge my passion for history by writing articles for 0n-line magazines. You might try Wordpress and some of my images appear on Pinterest.
Maybe I can't write as fast as one can read, but I try to keep up!
Ten Days in Nether Fondle is now searching for a publisher.
I am always happy to do book signings or to give a talk on writing or local history, or any other related subject. Please do contact me at [email protected]
Do check back later for new updates. There's always more to come!
The Old Mill
FRESHWATER, Isle of Wight PO40 9NX
Mon - Sat - Whenever
Sun: - Same