Last night I had the huge pleasure of being a guest at a very special event in Oxford. It was the official launch of Garden, a brilliant book that has been written by my good friend and fellow writer Jane Yates. You can find out all about Jane by following her on Twitter @JYParadoxchild or by visiting her website www.janeyates.co.uk
I met Jane a few years ago when she came to volunteer with us at the Community Media Group. I was hoping that she would be able to write some stories and features for us, but at the time she told me, in no uncertain terms, that she definitely could NOT write. Lots and lots of our volunteers have said this to us over the years, and in most cases I know that actually people CAN write, they just need to be given the confidence to do it, and have some self-belief!
However, Jane is an accomplished artist and crafts person (among many other things) and so she offered to create a regular cartoon strip for us. This was based on her rather plump spaniel Mandy and my equally plump labrador Jack. The cartoon was a massive hit with all of us at the office, as well as our readers and it wasn’t very long before Jane started coming up with other ideas-but this time she WAS going to write as well. Since those early days we have published a whole range of work from Jane including a monthly diary about her plans to start running, features about things she wanted to achieve before hitting 50, craft projects and short stories. Most recently she has been reviewing books for us to support fellow authors in their endeavours.
Jane has always been very open about the fact she has the challenge of dyslexia, and until recently a lower than average reading age, for her actual age but neither of these have stopped her publishing a trilogy of books and launching her latest novel Garden at a very special event last night at the Pitt Rivers Museum.
The evening was a unique and special celebration, not only of an exceptionally good read, but of the fact that Jane has overcome some serious challenges in her life to fulfil her ambition to be a writer. I urge you to read all of her books and when she is winning prizes remember-you heard it here first!