Joanna Fulford lives in Chesterfield on the edge of the Peak District. However, she grew up in rural Bedfordshire where she enjoyed a degree of freedom rarely afforded to kids today. Her two great passions were horses and writing. Riding developed her love of and respect for the countryside—though it was sometimes seen at much closer quarters than anticipated—and writing allowed exploration of the inner landscape. She worked a variety of part-time jobs included onion picking, shop work, pub cooking, cleaning in a retirement home and mucking out and cleaning tack at the local stables to earn rides. The horses were great educators and taught her patience, independence and responsibility. They even helped with revisions for O-level literature. In the end they knew more poetry than most and probably all of Henry V.
Educated at Pilgrim Grammar School in Bedford, Joanna went on to train as a teacher. Having gained her qualification from Keswick Hall College in Norfolk, she felt in need of a really big adventure and applied to do voluntary service overseas. To her delight and everyone else’s consternation she was sent to Sierra Leone, where she taught for two years. Contrary to numerous predictions of doom she had the time of her life. The experience was rewarding on many levels, not least for friendships, memories and adventures. These included everything from panning (unsuccessfully) for alluvial diamonds to canoeing in a crocodile-infested river, a close encounter with a cobra and being bitten by a mad dog. On her return to England she worked briefly as a filing clerk at Bedfordshire Police Headquarters before taking up a teaching post in Birmingham. After two years she decided that life was too short to spend in Balsall Heath and went to Bermuda instead, suspecting it would be a lot better. It was. Itchy foot syndrome struck again, though, and there followed teaching jobs in England and Madrid as well as extensive travels in Europe, North America, Africa and the Far East.
In the interim she completed an honors degree in literature and history with the Open University. While in Madrid she became the first European student in the OU master’s course. By juggling study with full-time work she successfully completed the MA two years later, after which she was invited to join the OU team as a part-time lecturer. It was a role she found stimulating in every way. Later she became a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and, more recently, a member of the Society of Authors.
Although she enjoyed teaching, she found writing a growing compulsion and left education to pursue it full-time. Her nonfiction pieces have appeared in various publications including Writers’ News, Writing Magazine and Reflections, a Derbyshire lifestyle magazine to which she is a regular contributor. She also won a Writing Magazine book prize with a piece of short fiction, and her sonnet Frost won a prize in the 2008 Thomas Hardy Society poetry competition. In addition, Harlequin accepted her first novel, The Viking’s Defiant Bride. It took eighteen months and four rewrites but she found the process challenging, fulfilling and fun, and is thrilled to have achieved success. She submitted a second historical romance, set in Norman England, and completed its sequel. She is currently working on a story set in the Regency period. When not pressing a hot keyboard she spends time walking or riding on the hills of the Peak District with her husband, Brian.