About the Author
I’ve always loved telling stories. Even before I could hold a pen, I would sit on top of the coal bunker in our south London back yard, making up tales in my head. My greatest joy was when my grandmother bought me an exercise book, which I could fill with stories (a shiny new notebook still gives me a thrill now – oh, the endless possibilities of those empty pages!).
I read voraciously, too. There were no books in our home and my grandfather disapproved of reading, but my grandmother would sneak me off to the local library, which opened up a whole new world. I also loved comics, especially Bunty, with its wonderfully melodramatic serials. How I used to look forward to my nan coming home on a Saturday lunchtime so I could get the next instalment!
When I was 19, I landed my dream job – writing photo love stories for a teenage magazine. Suddenly I was being paid for doing what I’d always done, making up stories. A few ‘real’ jobs in journalism followed, but I always longed to go back to my first love of storytelling.
When I was 40, I published my first novel, Waiting in the Wings, under the name of Donna Hay. The novel won the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Award. Seven contemporary romantic comedies followed. But although I loved writing romance (and still do!), I always wanted to try something a bit grittier. So when my publisher suggested I might like to write some stories set in an East End hospital, I jumped at the chance.
I researched endlessly, talking to former nurses, reading books and journals and raiding archives. And the more I read, the more fascinated I became. I decided to start at the beginning of the story, with three students taking their first steps into nursing. I also decided to give them very different backgrounds, to see how they coped. And so The Nightingale Girls was born.
There are so many more stories to be told, and the more I research, the more I find. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them!