I’m a British author, living in West Sussex. After completing an MPhil in Literature, I became a secondary school English and Drama teacher. Then I was lucky enough to go part-time when our children were born, which also meant I could spend time with my two lovely daughters during those wondrous early years. I’ve always loved writing, and my first small success happened when an adaptation of my thesis was published. This spurred me on to write fiction, which I’ve always wanted to do – as my head is full of strange images from my very over-active imagination.
I began to write stories and got some success without much financial reward. Eventually a small genre publisher called Eibonvale Press put out a collection of my stories called A Glimpse of the Numinous, which gathered some very good reviews, including the comment “in Gardiner’s fiction we escape to places we’d never imagine journeying to” (The New Short Review).
Myopia was my first novel to be published, and it explores bullying amongst teenagers at school. Jerry confronts his bully determined to use non-violent means, but begins to believe he has super-powers. I wrote it after seeing first hand, as a teacher, the effect that bullying and prejudice can have on individuals. After the usual round of rejections, the manuscript was accepted by Crooked Cat Publishing. I even had the dubious honour of teaching it to a class of Year 9 pupils, who were very kind in their comments and responses.
My second novel (also from Crooked Cat) is Igboland, set in Nigeria during the Biafran Civil War. It follows a romantic narrative as Lydia’s marriage and faith begin to fall apart. She begins to learn more about herself through a deeper understanding of the Igbo culture around her. I was born in Nigeria as my dad was a Methodist minister out there for six years. Nigeria still gets a negative press for various reasons, but I have sentimental feelings towards the country of my birth and consider it my ‘spiritual home’. My mum’s diaries were incredibly helpful whilst researching contextual details. This novel is very personal to me, and it examines themes of identity. The challenge I faced was writing from a female perspective. Have a read and let me know if I’ve done a good job.
It’s the worst thing in the world: being in love, or even obsessed with someone who doesn’t feel the same way about you.
“Let’s just be friends” or “I don’t feel the same way about you” are terrible phrases to hear. There’s very little you can do about it whilst clinging on to your dignity, unless you plan to provoke or bore them into eventual submission. The message is pretty clear.
It’s not easy to then ignore the images, emotions, thoughts and fantasies dominating your mind, as those cruel words echo through it (usually when you wake up at 3am). But just for your own sanity you’ve got to decide whether to continue with the friendship and hope – risking serious hurt as you watch them get involved in other relationships; or to give up on them entirely.
There’s certainly a strong argument for the latter. You need to move on and shift your affections away from that object of desire. You need to somehow meet new people and get on with your life.
There are some, however, who stick around, observing and perversely enjoying the torture of watching the person who rejected them foul up their next relationship. Perhaps one day they will look back with regret and wish it had all been different. Serve them right, eh? But that’s a dangerous game to play…
In Treading On Dreams, Donny is obsessed with Selena who is engaged to the perfect man. Unrequited love – don’t you hate it? But Donny refuses to give up, and he bides his time. I wrote Treading On Dreams in an attempt to explore how those feelings of hope and desire mix with the jealousy and anger rising from romantic and sexual rejection. Donny attempts to distract himself from his obsession by enjoying other sensual and sometimes overwhelming new experiences, guided by his dubious friend, Jaz. It’s contemporary fiction, with twenty-something characters learning about love (or not). It was actually the first novel I wrote.
I love acting and was lucky enough to be cast as Danny in ‘Grease’ at University, which remains a very happy memory. Sadly, I’ve never been as cool as I felt during that show. Other roles I’ve enjoyed include being Salvador Dali and the Greek God, Dionysus.
I’m a huge movie buff, having recently enjoyed ‘Ex Machina’ and ‘Bird Man’ at the cinema. I’ll happily watch action films or silent classics. Music is also important to me, and I confess to enjoying prog rock – the classic and contemporary kinds. Attending gigs brings me great joy, and I’m very excited about seeing King Crimson later this year.
Now I’ve got the writing bug I’ll never stop – even if nobody reads my stuff. I’m lucky enough to do some editing now, which gives me greater insight into honing and polishing manuscripts into tight and disciplined prose. Imagination is the key for me, though. I’d prefer not to be limited by one genre as I believe that there is great writing in every genre. I’m interested in exploring the human condition, and in creating characters that are real and grappling with things readers can identify in their own lives. Books are treasures that can exhilarate, entertain, amaze and inspire. If any of my books do one of those things then it’s job done.
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