Louise Lawrence was born on June 5th 1943 in Leatherhead in Surrey. Baptised Elizabeth Holden, she was older by three years than her sister, Catherine. Her father was Fred Holden, a bricklayer ... her mother, Rhoda, who had once been employed as a cook by wealthy households, was by then simply a housewife (a wife usually stayed at home to look after her husband and children in those days. To have a non-
She was a sickly, asthmatic child and absent much of the time ... which was probably her way of escaping the general angst and constant bullying she had to contend with at school. There were no breathing-
Being ill in bed offered Louise safety and security and a taste of childhood bliss. There she was allowed access to her mother’ books ... an old encyclopaedia which she read from cover to cover, a section of which introduced her to stars, planets, galaxies and all the wonders of the universe ... the Complete Works of Tennyson and the Oxford Book of Verse that fostered an early love of poetry ... world myths and legends ... and a battered old medical directory. This infused her with the desire to become a doctor when she grew up, but the ambition floundered in her teenage years when she realised some of the responsibilities involved, in particular the onerous expectation of having to do night duty.
The best days of Louise’s childhood were spent in Gloucestershire, at her grandfather’s house in the Forest of Dean where her mother had been born. There summers were real summers, endless sunny days with no memories of rain, school holidays when children were free to run wild and unsupervised over the hills and through the woods, when they were expected to be gone all day with a lunch of sandwiches and not to return until twilight. And Louise was one of them along with her sister and cousins ... and the grandad, of course. With his one-
Louise, as a child, was called a shrinking violet. She was a constant disappointment to both her parents, even more so when she failed her eleven plus exam. Those six months she spent at Leatherhead Comprehensive seemed like a punishment for a crime and were even more hellish than being at primary school. It was a huge relief for her when her father bought a shop and the family moved to Ayleburton in Gloucestershire.
Here, on the edge of the Forest of Dean, she was given the chance for a new beginning. She was allowed to re-
The few years Louise spent working in a local library surrounded by books were generally happy. She read extensively ... books on the paranormal and supernatural ... books on astronomy and astronautics ... on archeology and and anthropology ... ancient history and teenage fiction. It was during those years she discovered authors such as George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, J.R.R. Tolkien and Alan Garner whose works she admired and eventually influenced her own.
Becoming a writer
By the age of twenty one, Louise was married, living in an isolated farmhouse with her first child, missing her work in the library, cut off from human contact and afraid that lack of stimulating company would cause her to mentally vegetate. For that reason among others, and because marriage was not a happy experience, she began to write books.
She never intended to write books ... having tried once a few years before, got as far as page eight, realised it wasn’t easy and dropped the idea. It was simply something that happened to her ... like finding a sixpence or catching measels. All of a sudden, while washing nappies in the kitchen sink, on a film screen inside her head, a story unfolded. She watched the events being acted-
But Louise, in those days, was not a writer. She had to learn. It took seven years, five books and two more children, before she wrote one that was good enough to be published. ANDRA, and THE POWER OF STARS that followed, marked the start of her career as a professional writer, the end of her first marriage and the disapproval of everyone who knew her for not taking a ‘proper’ job. Writing for a living was seen as a state close to 'hippiedom' ... or just another way of dropping-
It was quite the opposite as far as Louise was concerned. Now she was no longer writing fantasy books as a form of escape from an unhappy reality but to financially support herself and her three children. Nor was it easy. It involved working twelve to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, for paltry rewards. Even with her books being published in America as well as in the United Kingdom, money was always tight. She was often obliged to take on other work beside ... slaving in a restaurant kitchen throughout the tourist season ... gardening and interior decorating for old people ...knitting, dressmaking, sewing rag dolls to sell in craft shops, or whatever else was offered that helped make ends meet. And the rest of the time she wrote, often late into the night after the children were in bed ... in long-
Being a single mother, it would have been easier to have taken a ‘proper’ job for regular wages, but Louise loved writing too much to give it up. Years passed. Book followed book. Her children grew to be adults and left home. Then, in 1987, she married again ... a new husband, Graham, and a new start in life.
Restoring a derelict house in the Forest of Dean put paid to her writing career for almost three years and, when she began again, she found she no longer loved it but hated it. She hated being shut in an office for months on end when her real life was waiting to be enjoyed. A computer made things somewhat easier but, in truth, she only continued writing to pay the mortgage and that, after a while, became more and more of a burden and finally impossible on an author’s wages.
The house in the Forest was sold in 1998. Along with her husband, Graham, Louise moved to County Mayo in Ireland and abandoned writing yet again, this time to renovate an Irish cottage. There was no mortgage to pay now, no pressure on her to pick up the pen or switch on the computer. When the cottage was finished her husband went out to work and she spent her days creating a garden from the wilderness, growing vegetables and hauling peat from the bog. Books happened slowly, bits at a time, as Louise became more and more adept at procrastinating in favour of doing other things.
Then in 2007 Louise suffered a heart attack and began to realise she was growing old. She decided she could not go on working like a navvy, living in isolation among the Irish bogs, miles from the nearest shop and unable to drive. Nor did she want to spend the rest of her life being dependent on her husband for transport and the means to live. She wanted to do what she wanted, instead of all the thousand and one things that needed to be done. She wanted to go where she pleased, have access to a few amenities and be financially independent. And above all ... she wanted to write again.
During her last few years Louise has become a pensioner with a free travel pass. She set up her own home separately from her husband and moved to Kiltimagh, a small town in east Mayo where there are shops and a doctor's surgery and bus services to various places. In a modern semi-
At the same, Graham encouraged her to look at the new publishing formats, as the 'old guard' had signally failed to recognise proper writing talent, preferring to cash in on preferring what he called "celebrity tat". Graham prepared an unpublished new work in e-
Sadly, as the return to her main love, her writing, was beginning to happen, fate struck a cruel blow. On December 6, 2013, Louise suffered a fatal heart attack and died at home in Kiltimagh, Ireland -
Her husband, Graham and her daughters, Rachel and Rebecca, intend to continue to re-
Louise Lawrence is an unusual author -
Louise Lawrence was born Elizabeth Rhoda Holden in England in 1943. She left school at seventeen, worked as an assistant librarian, married at nineteen, and began writing at twenty-
When Louise left her (first) husband, writing ceased being a hobby and became her main means of survival. She lived with her three children and her widowed mother in a cottage in the Forest of Dean, picking fruit, digging gardens, working in a restaurant to supplement her income, and she 'wrote and wrote'.
Louise never has to search for ideas, nor does she 'consciously' think them up. 'It's as if I have a film screen inside my head' she says, 'and I watch them happening—names, faces, places, characterisation, what's said, what happens, the whole story, just like a film. Each book appears like a gift from an unknown source ... I can only liken the procedure to a waking dream.' She sees her job as a writer 'to remember what I "see" in these visions and write them down to the best of my ability... Usually I can only remember the highlights, and how to get from one dramatic scene to the next I have to invent.'
When her children grew up and left home, Louise remarried and had a break from writing, spending much of her time and energy restoring a derelict house with her new husband. Eventually she returned to it but today she writes for a different reason— 'not to escape from reality, not driven to express the visions in my head, and not for financial survival. I write because I choose to ..'
When Louise Lawrence is not writing, she likes to read, paint pictures, sew patchwork quilts, walk in the Forest and garden. She is currently working on a sword and sorcery trilogy*, 'gripping stuff which has her enthralled.
Reproduced from 'Ten of the Best', a promotion pack published by HarperCollinsPublishers ©1993
* The aforementioned trilogy consists of 'Journey Through Llandor' ; 'The Road to Irryan' and 'The Shadow of Mordican'.