A Brief Biography
I was born in the City of Leicester on 4 April 1948. My parents were Freda and David Cohen, who were in the tailoring trade, and belonged to the Orthodox Jewish community. They wanted me to be educated, have a career, and marry a nice Jewish doctor. I managed two out of the three. All four of my grandparents had immigrated from Poland early in the 20th century, and my parents were born in London. During the second world war, they moved to Leicester to avoid the Blitz, and decided to stay, though they maintained close ties with the other members of the family who stayed in London. I have always felt that if there was any place I really belonged, it was London. Much as I enjoy rural pleasures I am a city person at heart, and nowadays would find it hard to live more than a tube ride from the British Library!
My love affair with the printed word probably started when I was two, when I eagerly absorbed the alphabet as taught to me by my mother. I have had my nose in a book ever since. The scribbling of poems and stories certainly dates back as early as six, and my first efforts at a novel from the age of eleven. I attended Medway Street Infants and Junior School, in the days of the eleven plus, and from there I went to Wyggeston Girls Grammar School. My earliest ambition was to be an astronomer, and I both read and wrote a great deal of science fiction. I also read biology, zoology and medicine, and seriously considered a medical career. By my teens, however, I had developed my absorbing and life-long interest in true crime, probably taking after my mother who loved to read about famous trials.
I was always something of a rebel, and this did not make my schooldays run smoothly. After taking my O levels, I left school, and trained to be a chemist's dispenser with Boots. My next piece of rebellion was to marry out of my religion at the age of 18. My son, Elric was born when I was 20.
Whatever I was destined to be it was not a housewife, and I took my A levels and went to Newcastle University in 1971, graduating with first class honours in psychology three years later. I then joined the civil service, and trained to be an Inspector of Taxes.
From the early 70s I was very active in science fiction fandom, attending a great many conventions. I was living in Co. Durham , working in Newcastle, yet virtually everything I wanted to do, and most of my friends were in London.
In 1987, unable to resist the pull of London I moved there, and my first husband and I were amicably divorced in 1992. I married my second husband, Gary in 1993. In the same year I began practising aikido, and obtained my black belt in 2000.
In 2001 I left the civil service, and started a new career as a freelance writer and sub-editor, and in 2002 was commissioned to write my first published book on the history of chloroform.