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I am a writer - late developer since I wasn't published until I was 50. I have now written 23 novels, numerous short stories and articles.

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Photo of Anita Burgh by Cristiana Bembo

Welcome to my web site.
Contrary to most writers I was not born with a deep need to write, I never wanted to and in any case I was certain I could not. Contrary to most writers I did not read many novels - biography and history were the books I enjoyed.
In the 80s we were running our house in Scotland as a B&B. Sadly, we were lacking success! We were so far north and so isolated that not many tourists went that far. The letters from the bank were stern until finally there was one which was an even fiercer tone. What to do? Write a bestseller and save the day! So aged 46, with no experience and a sublime naiveté about publishing and the difficulties involved I set to and within three weeks I had a novel.
Reality then set in for it took four years and seven re-writes before it was accepted by a publisher. I didn't go bankrupt by a whisker. But we lost the house which I adored.
Meanwhile this writer who never wanted to write fell in love with doing so and many years later I am still writing. I now have 22 novels published. Never say never.

Biography

I am convinced I was born under a galaxy of lucky stars.
First Star:
Born at Gillingham, in Kent, where we lived in a terraced house with an outside loo and a tin bath. At the outbreak of war we went to Lanhydrock House, in Cornwall for safety. This great and beautiful house would touch me for the rest of my life. I was seven when we returned to Gillingham, to the bombs and doodlebugs, and I pined for Lanhydrock; for the beauty, the space and because for me, who had no earlier memories, this was home.
Second Star:
School was initially a struggle for I am dyslexic - but it had yet to be recognised so until then I was thought of as 'thick'. But I had a fairy Godmother in the shape of Miss Edwards who, despite having a class of 52 children to teach held me back a year so that at the age of 9 she taught me to read. I then went on to pass the scholarship for a place at Chatham County Grammar School.
Third Star:
With no sense of vocation I became a student nurse at University College Hospital in London. To be honest I was a lousy nurse, forgetful, half the time I was away with the fairies, and without Miss Edwards to help me, medication, names of conditions became a dyslexic's nightmare. I didn't kill anyone but it was probably a close run thing. But, I loved it. I liked looking after people, I loved hearing their stories, many years later some turned up, in various disguises, in my books.
Fourth Star:
The party instruction was simple - bring a bottle and a nurse! I was one of the nurses who found themselves on a converted MTB at Cheyne Walk on the Thames. I entered the boat and fell in love - it was as fast and as simple as that. Fortunately for me, Peter Leith, felt the same way.
Fifth Star:
I won a raffle. First prize a week in New York for two. Second prize a week in Nice for two. Third prize a week in Sidmouth Devon for two. The stars must have been wobbling for I didn't get the first two but the third. We arrived at the Victoria Hotel, which to me seemed so grand. But the stars got their act organised and Peter asked me to marry him.
Sixth Star:
Engaged I went to meet his father and step mother. He had not told me that his father was a Lord as he would be one day. Nor had he warned me that his family were aghast at his marrying someone as 'unsuitable' as me.
He ignored them but we could not ignore the fuss generated in the media.
Seventh Star:
Before we married I thought that Peter was an impoverished student and I gave him my last pay-packet - all of £14. When we returned from our honeymoon, he sat me down with a pile of papers which explained he was the heir to an American fortune. His family feared I was a Gold-digger.
Eighth Star:
Did we live happily ever after? No, we divorced but we remained loving friends and Peter spent the last years of his life with us.
Some of these stars might appear the antithesis of luck, instead for me they were precious since all the ups and downs gave me so much material for my novels.

Writing's FAQs

How did you start writing?
Fear of my bank manager is the answer. Twenty years ago I had a hotel in the Northern Highlands of Scotland which was losing money fast. I decided to write myself out of near bankruptcy. I had never wanted to write and had no idea that I could. But on that first attempt I fell in love with my new career. Now I can't imagine doing anything else and wish I had started years ago. But I also learnt you can't write for money, you write because you love to and have to.
Is Distinctions of Class your first novel?
It is and it isn't. It was the first to be published but the second one I had written. That one, Love the Bright Foreigner, was my attempt to write a Mills and Boon book - these are deceptive books, since they are easy to read but very difficult to write. I soon learnt I could not do it. This one is the only 100% romance I have written. It is quite common for the first to never see the light of day, but it is never time wasted for you learn and enormous amount simply writing them.
How do you choose what to write about?
There is invariably a trigger that sets me off on an idea for a book. It can be a conversation overheard, a snippet in the paper, something seen on TV, a story told me by a friend.
How do you start?
Every book I have written starts with a theme. However I have themes which recur again and again in my work. They are: class; the effect of money - too much or too little - on people's lives; rejection - emotional and social. If you are familiar with my work you will be aware how my own life has impacted on the novels I write.
Aren't you afraid that others might pinch your ideas?
With most other writers I've met the problem is choosing which of one's own themes to write and not bothering about other's ideas.
Do you wait for inspiration?
If one waited for inspiration it would be a long wait. Writing is work, enjoyable work, but routine and discipline are what is important. I work from 10 to 5, six days a week - even when I don't want to. I used to keep a diary because I find writing is rather like playing the piano - you need to practise every day. I've given that up but I always try to write something even if it is e-mails.
What do you consider are the rules?
My rule is there are no rules. The trick is to relax and enjoy what you are doing. If you do, then your readers are much more likely to enjoy reading you.
Will you retire?
Only if it becomes physically impossible to continue.