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Louise Lawrence
1943 -2013

Early Years

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-working mother was approved of by society and considered normal). They were  a lower-class couple in a time when the ‘class system’ still mattered, with aspirations of eventually  becoming ‘middle-class.’ They owned a pre-war semi-detached house in a suburban street and for  reasons known only to them decided not to send Louise to a private school. Instead, she attended  Poplar Road Primary School in Leatherhead and hated it.

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-inhalers in those days ... no recognition of psycho-somatic or stress-related illness ... no  investigations as to reasons why a child might be prone to recurring attacks of asthma ... no  sympathetic teachers or adults willing to listen to, or help tackle, the sources of childhood fears.  Those were the days when children were raised to be seen and not heard, when ‘big girls’ didn’t cry  but were encouraged from the age of five to stand up for themselves in the wider world and fight their  own battles. Louise, however, was far too timorous to apply those kinds of directives to her own life.  She was a born coward and her childhood use of avoidance tactics for unpleasant situations  eventually grew to become a philosophy 'Those who don’t like the game can leave the court.'

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-toothed grin, grandad made the whole  world magic ... peopled the landscape with gnomes and giants, trolls and fairies ... cheated at  impromptu cricket matches, hid among the bracken and made monster noises, taught the names of  trees and butterflies, flowers and stars. Grandad kept his trousers up with a length of string, told  wicked stories and loved Louise in a way no other adult ever did.

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-sit the eleven-plus exam and this time she passed. And being a stranger in the area,  she was no longer castigated for being a wimp or a failure. The teachers were kind and Louise  enjoyed learning, gained the respect of her peers and ten ‘O’ level passes. She spent five wonderful  years at Lydney Grammar School, then blew all chances of further academic achievement and  parental approval by finding a boyfriend, leaving school at seventeen and entering the university of  life.

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-out ... saw  the characters, landscapes, faces, places ... heard names and conversations ... shared thoughts and  feelings. All she had to do to when the experience ended was write it all down.

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-out.

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-hand, in jumbo pads, that afterwards had to be typed out.

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-detached  house with a tiny garden. Her health was slowly recovering and she was learning to love writing  again although, due to so long an absence and so many changes in conventional publishing, she  had received no offer for any of her latest novels from the 'traditional' publishers.

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-book format and this book, entitled  THE WITCH AND THE WEATHERMAGE, is now available on Amazon Kindle. Another new book was  to be released in 2014. Louise was happy to see these new developments.

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 -  the country she had so loved to live in for the last 16 years.

Her husband, Graham and her daughters, Rachel and Rebecca, intend to continue to re-issue her  past works in e-book format, also to see that her one new and unpublished work gets to see the light  of day before too long.


Louise Lawrence is an unusual author - she writes science fiction for teenagers when not many writers, especially not women writers, do. She is a popular author because whether  her stories are set in today's society or in some sterile city in another galaxy or another  time, her characters are real and her stories deal with issues that are important to today's  young people. 'I write for teenagers,' says Louise. 'The books contain fantasy elements in a  realistic setting—a combination of ordinary human characters influenced by extraordinary  forces. Each story also touches upon some wider contemporary issue, such as violence,  religion, the role of women, life after death, the conflict of science and nature'

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-one after the birth of her first child. She wrote to escape—from boredom and an  unhappy marriage. 'I lived in an isolated farmhouse and had no one to talk to, plenty to do in the way of chores but nothing to occupy my mind.' Her first four novels were not  accepted for publication, but finally Andra was successful.

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'.