Victoria Osborne-Broad


Victoria Osborne-Broad grew up in the days before the internet, smartphones or even computers. A solitary child, she read and read: children’s books, classics, and whatever she could borrow from the library. When she was older, a colleague lent her a copy of Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Dragonflight’, and she was hooked. She read more of this and other fantasy series, and some sci-fi. She drafted a book involving telepathy. That one sank without trace, but she kept going, and finally completed a novel set on an island cut off from the world by a magic barrier. She started the round of submissions to fantasy paperback publishers and discovered (a) that they wanted agented submissions, and (b) they only wanted books guaranteed to have large sales. Meanwhile she’d qualified as that now extinct creature, a professional librarian.

​After hosting an author talk at her branch, she spent 3 or 4 years trying her hand seriously at romantic fiction, then returned to fantasy. She revised her island book, tried agents, but still no joy. By now she was living in Cornwall. How she first came here and met her husband is a romantic tale in itself, starting with a remarkable coincidence which would look contrived if used in fiction.

​Next she sent a short story to a competition and got positive feedback. It had originated from a book she’d done a few chapters of some time before. So she dusted them down, began to revise and continue the story, and realised she had to move the action from London to Cornwall. Swiss Cottage became Penzance, Hampstead Heath turned into Chapel Carn Brea, and her heroine lives in a house based on where the author lives. It has the stunning views, the gardens and the peace, but it’s their house as it would be if they had the money possessed by the fictional owner and didn’t do holiday lets. The plot brings magic and time travel into the modern world of cars and smartphones, and the Cornish setting is central.

​Victoria gave up the day job with the Council, and her life changed. She went to talks and workshops for writers, beginning at the Penzance Literary Festival. She joined writers’ groups, met other writers, and made new friends. Best of all, some of those writer friends started meeting in their homes, reading out what they were working on and getting constructive feedback. Victoria finished a sequel, and realised she had a trilogy in hand when she had the classic light bulb moment: how to combine her first two books with the magic island.

​By now she had gained the confidence to get her writing ‘out there’. She approached a Cornish firm for ‘assisted’ i.e. self-publishing, with her first book. What followed was far from what she expected; hurdles, pitfalls, blind corners in a maze, provide your own cliché. With the second book she assumed that this time she really knew what to expect, but she was proved wrong again.

​However, there have been magic moments: giving talks and having genuinely positive responses; being asked when the next one’s coming out by eager readers. The day she first saw her book in her local library, and realised why her copies had never looked right; they didn’t have library jackets on. And the afternoon walking through some local gardens when she saw someone sitting on a bench by a lake, reading her book. And to come full circle, she had a joint slot at the Penzance Literary Festival, which she first went to the month after she left the Council and plunged into the real world of writers.

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