I loved English at school because we got to read and write stories and I often entered writing competitions. Part of my degree involved creative writing, fuelling my dream of becoming an author, but then I graduated and life became very busy when I had my children and I didn’t have much spare time or energy for writing. In 2007, I had a rejection from a large romance publisher and I thought that being a published author would only ever be a dream. However, in 2010, my husband encouraged me to start writing and submitting stories to publishers again. This was followed by a number of rejections and a lot of tears… But in 2015, my debut novel as Darcie Boleyn was published by Carina UK, a digital imprint of Harper Collins. Since then, I’ve been busy. As well as writing as Darcie Boleyn, I have self published as Rachel Griffiths, had a novel published with Orion as Megan Attley and I’m now signed with Zaffre as Cathy Lake.
I am a devoted dog mum and have two British bulldogs and one rescue greyhound. I usually include dogs, especially rescue dogs, in my books. As Darcie Boleyn, I wrote a series set in the fictional Cornish location of Conwenna Cove and every book featured a rescue greyhound and a greyhound sanctuary. Summer at Conwenna Cove and Christmas at Conwenna Cove did quite well in the Amazon charts following publication and have received some lovely reviews. Some of my books have been converted into audiobooks and some have gone to print. It’s been a very exciting time!
The Country Village Christmas Show, my first Cathy Lake book, was published in 2020. It’s about a woman in her forties who has reached a crossroads in her life. Her marriage ended recently, her son is away at university and the family home has been sold. Not knowing what to do and feeling a bit lost, she returns to the pretty village where she grew up to stay with her mother. They’ve never been close and she knows it will be a challenge, but she also hopes it will be a positive thing for them both. Her mother has a rescue Great Dane called Goliath and Clare finds herself becoming very fond of him, enjoying taking him on long walks in the beautiful countryside and snuggling on the sofa with him. As the weeks pass, she finds herself involved in village life in ways she’d never imagined. She has the opportunity to see a new future for herself filled with exciting opportunities and challenges, and with the support of her friends and loved ones, she learns that she’s strong enough to deal with whatever comes her way.
Many people will find themselves in a similar situation in that they come to a crossroads and wonder what’s next, whether it’s because of a relationship breakdown, children leaving home or losing loved ones. I wanted to show through this story that there’s hope to be found, that relationships can be healed and new ones formed. Life isn’t easy for anyone but having friends and family (whatever form that family takes) can help us to deal with the challenges we face. As a dog mum, I also believe that animals, especially dogs, have the ability to help us to make the most of life because they live for the moment. In our busy lives, we can lose perspective and rush from one task to the next. This isn’t good for our physical or mental health, but having a dog can make us slow down, focus on the here and now, and be more mindful. My husband and I walk our dogs every day and getting out like that is incredibly therapeutic. I often use our dogs as sounding boards for character profiles, plotlines and dialogue and they’re wonderful writing companions.
I wrote the first draft of The Country Village Christmas Show in eight weeks. The basis of the idea came from my own experience as a woman, wife and mum, who changed career in my forties and found the job fulfilment I’d always dreamt of. The second book in The Country Village series, The Country Village Summer Fete, was published in June 2021 and it’s about a woman on the cusp of her 50th birthday, who realises that her priorities are changing. When she returns to her childhood home to care for her ageing father, she has to face her past in the village of Little Bramble and finds it challenging, to say the least.
I believe that it’s never too late to change direction. I taught for 18 years and dreamt of being an author but after a series of rejections, I didn’t think it would happen. I believed that it happened for other people, but not for me. When I left teaching in 2016, it was scary, a big leap to take but my mental health was suffering for a variety of reasons and I knew I had to makes some changes. By that point, I had a few books published, but didn’t know if I could make writing work as a career. Reader, I gave it everything I had.
And… here I am in 2021, with quite a few books published and some exciting news coming soon! I’m incredibly grateful that my husband encouraged me to write again and that with hard work, persistence and dedication, my dream came true.