Northumbrian teacher, Jane Ions, has found literary success by picking up her pen after retirement.
Jane’s series of humorous novels are winning an enthusiastic following and literary acclaim, and she’s heading home to speak about her writing at the Morpeth Book Festival on 31st March.
After university, Jane returned home to teach at Morpeth’s King Edward Vl School, where she began the teaching career she was able to draw on years later in her novels. Her first foray into literature came when her children were both at school, and she couldn’t resist turning their previously unloved school newsletters into mini sit-coms, and a regular “must read” for parents!
Success with the school newsletters inspired Jane to submit an unsolicited article for The Sunday Times Magazine’s’ longstanding “A Life In The Day” column. She says she became the first ever ‘non-entity’ to be featured on this page, and this was followed by articles in Punch, The Times, and Today.
After marriage and happy years living in Newcastle and Ponteland, husband Keith’s career took him to the Cumberland Infirmary, and the family moved over the border to Dalston. Jane kept a foot in both counties writing columns for the Carlisle News and Star, and Newcastle Journal.
After retirement, Jane wrote her first novel, “Domestic Bliss And Other Disasters”, chronicling the humorous adventures of semi-retired teacher Sally, politician husband Bill, their “boomerang” son Dan and flock of friends.
Published in 2021 by Bluemoose Books, Jane’s delightful, funny and razor-sharp prose proved an immediate hit with readers. Picked as Times Radio’s Book of the Week, it also made the shortlist for the prestigious “Comedy Women In Print” award, alongside alumni like Lynne Truss, Dolly Alderton and Mel Giedroyc.
‘It was great to have my book read and enjoyed, and to have people ask me when the sequel was coming out,’ reflects Jane. ‘I am proud of my Northumbrian roots, they are a source of inspiration for me. Memories are an enriching resource to any writer, so memories of being a pupil at Goosehill School during its scary, mid-century, spam and semolina pudding period, or of being an inexperienced teacher at King Edward V1 school, are all valuable.
The intriguingly-titled “Love, Politics and Possibly Murder” was published last year, with political scandal and a startling confession from Sally’s best friend Jen setting off a chain of fast-paced, laugh-out-loud action. The books can be read in any order, appealing to established fans and new readers alike, and Jane is already tapping out a third.
‘When I sit down to write, I like to picture the people I grew up with,’ says Jane, ‘and in particular, their lively, sparky and fun-loving good humour. There are Northumbrian traits in the characters in my books, and this makes them especially likeable. It will be a great honour for me to come back to my hometown to talk about these books, and I hope to see some familiar faces there. Maybe there will be others in the audience who remember nervously disliking semolina at Goosehill School!’