Jean Fullerton is the author of four previous historical novels. She is a qualified District and Queen’s nurse who has spent most of her working life in the East End of London, first as a Sister in charge of a team, and then as a District Nurse tutor. She is also a qualified teacher and now lectures on community nursing studies in a London university.
She has three grown-up daughters and now lives just outside her native City with her husband, an eight stone Bernese Mountain Dog called Molly and two cats.
Q. Welcome Jean. Lovely to see you here (I often run into Jean at RNA events and love listening to her gorgeous cockney accent). We have a bit of background info on you but can you tell us a bit more about your writing? Do you have an agent? What’s your most memorable writing success been?
A. After six years of learning my craft as a pre-published author I’m now happily published by Orion Fiction, one of the big Five UK publishers.
I write historical fiction with strong heroines and heart-stopping heroes which in trade circles are described as sagas. They usually come out at 110,000- 120,000 in word count but my publishers asked for Call Nurse Millie to be a ‘big story’ so it is a whopping 145,000 words.
I have four previous books with Orion, No Cure for Love, A Glimpse at Happiness, Perhaps Tomorrow and Hold on to Hope. They are all set in Victorian East London from 1832 to 1854. Although they aren’t a series they feature characters from the Nolan family.
My most memorable writing success has to be when No Cure for Love won the 2006 Harry Bowling Prize as this was my BIG break. It not only got me my lovely agent Laura but also the first of my two-book deals with Orion. Although, having A Glimpse at Happiness and Perhaps Tomorrow short-listed for the 2010 and 2012 Romantic Novel of the Year came pretty close.
If you’d told me twelve years ago that today I’d be an award-winning author with a top agent and contract to an international publishing house I’d have said you were mad. Apart from the fact I knew nothing whatsoever about writing when I started all those years ago I’m also dyslexic. But here I am; getting ready for my fifth book to be released, the sixth in production for 2015 and about to start the seventh.
So take heart any unpublished writers reading this and if I were to give you three tips for success it would be:
1) Learn you’re craft
2) Learn to take constructive criticism and
3) above all KEEP going
A. I am a qualified District Nurse but I don’t practice any more as I’m now a full-time university lecture teaching nursing studies at a London University.
There’s no such thing as a typical day for me as I could be teaching, seeing students, interviewing prospective undergraduates or preparing lectures.
Writing can be a very lonely profession so the thing I love about my job is that it keeps me in touch with people and everyday life. The big disadvantage of having to fit writing around a day-job is the time it takes me away from the thing I love, which is writing.
Q. I completely agree. It’s difficult to get the balance right between having human contact (so that you can write about characters in authentic situations) and having enough time to do that writing! And lastly,what’s your favourite wine?
Thanks Jean for popping in and good luck with your latest release. As a special treat for everyone, I’m including the blurb and an excerpt from Call Nurse Millie.
An absorbing and richly detailed novel following the life and work of a young nurse in post-war East London – perfect for anyone who loved Call the Midwife.
It’s 1945 and, as the troops begin to return home, the inhabitants of London attempt to put their lives back together. For 25-year-old Millie, a qualified nurse and midwife, the jubilation at the end of the war is short-lived as she tends to the needs of the East End community around her. But while Millie witnesses tragedy and brutality in her job, she also finds strength and kindness. And when misfortune befalls her own family, it is the enduring spirit of the community that shows Millie that even the toughest of circumstances can be overcome.
Through Millie’s eyes, we see the harsh realities and unexpected joys in the lives of the patients she treats, as well as the camaraderie that is forged with the fellow nurses that she lives with. Filled with unforgettable characters and moving personal stories, this vividly brings to life the colourful world of a post-war East London.
Millie Sullivan pushed an escaped curl of auburn hair from her eyes with the back of her hand. She wished she’d put on her cotton petticoat under her navy blue uniform instead of the rayon one.
Although the milk float was only just rolling along the street, it was already sweltering hot.
With a practised hand Millie wrapped the newborn infant in a warm towel. ‘There we go, young lady, say hello to your ma.’
She handed the child to the woman propped up in the bed. Mo Driscoll, already mother to four lively boys, took the baby.
‘Thank you, Sister,’ she said, tucking her daughter into the crook of her arm and gazing down at the baby. ‘Isn’t she beautiful?’
‘She’s an angel,’ Mo’s mother, standing on the other side of the bed, replied. ‘And a welcome change.’ She looked at Millie. ‘I’ll clear up, Sister. You look done in.’
‘I am, but thankfully it’s my last night on call.’ Millie handed a parcel of newspaper containing soiled gauze to the older woman. ‘Could you pop these on the fire?’
‘To be sure.’ She took the packet and threw it in the zinc bucket alongside the dirty linen. ‘That superintendent works you nurses too hard. You should try and put your feet up when you get back.’
Chance would be a fine thing. She plopped her instruments into the small gallipot half-filled with Dettol, took off her gloves and glanced at her watch.
She’d be back by the time Miss Summers gave out the day’s work. Also, as Annie Fletcher, the trainee Queen’s Nurse student assigned to Millie, was laid up with tonsillitis, Millie had given a couple of Annie’s morning insulin injection visits to Gladys to do, and she wanted to make sure she’d done them.
‘Do you know what you’re going to call her?’ Millie asked Mo, washing her hands in the bowl balanced on the rickety bedside table.
‘Colleen, after me mum,’ she replied.
Mother and daughter exchanged an affectionate look and Mille glanced at her watch again.
She ought to get on, as she’d promised her own mum that she’d pop home in time for Churchill’s announcement at three p.m.
Her parents, Doris and Arthur, only lived a short bus ride away in Bow but, as Millie had two newborns to check plus a handful of pregnant women to see before she swapped her midwifery bag for her district one for her afternoon visits, it would be a close-run thing.
Millie packed the four small enamel dressing-bowls inside each other, then stowed them in her case between her scissors and the bottle of Dettol. She snapped the clasp shut.
‘I’ll call back tomorrow, but if there’s any problem just ring Munroe House to get the on-call nurse,’ Millie said, squeezing down the side of the bed towards the door.
Like so many others in East London, the Driscolls’ home was just the two downstairs rooms in an old terraced house that Hitler’s bombs had somehow missed.
Colleen took the manila envelope tucked into side of the dressing-table mirror and passed it to Millie.
She opened it and taking out two crumpled ten-shilling notes, popped them into the side pocket of her bag. ‘I’ll write it in when I get back to the clinic.’
You can buy Call Nurse Millie and Jean’s other books on Amazon.http://www.amazon.co.uk/Call-Nurse-Millie-ebook/dp/B00BMUVRT0/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363208639&sr=1-1
And find out more about Jean’s previous books, her East London heritage and about the actual locations she uses in her books at www.jeanfullerton.com.
You can also find her on Facebook as Jean Fullerton and follow her on Twitter as @EastLondonGirly
Thanks for reading and also… Happy Writing, Nikki.