Paula Coston is my pen name when writing fiction (my real surname is Iley). My first spur to venturing into print was J.R.R. Tolkien, whom I knew as a young girl, and who tolerated my puerile efforts. I acquired a 1st class degree in English Language and Literature (Oxon). A wonderfully stimulating editorial career in book publishing was followed by another as a teacher and educational consultant. Teaching thinking skills and creative writing became my passion, and I had educational books, articles and materials commissioned by various commercial publishers. Another move – to back-office roles in higher education – allowed me to put down roots in my adoptive home town of Stroud. I’ve always yearned to live by water channels – although I can barely swim! – and at last overlook the Stroudwater Canal with its evocative textile mills. In the last decade or two, I’ve had more time to devote to my first love, writing. I’ve been a freelance journalist, and blogged extensively, particularly on the themes of singledom, childlessness and older womanhood, for outlets such as Huffpost UK, Gateway Women and TheNotMom. I am currently reworking a novel about a single woman seeking to redress her childlessness through a link with Sri Lanka, and submitting another novel about two older sisters’ experiences of their bodies and mutability. I developed a large section of this second story while working for a distinction for an MA in Creative and Critical Writing with the University of Gloucestershire, which I gained last year. As I became increasingly chastened by the lack of authentic, rounded fictional representations of older women’s physical (‘somatic’) lives during these studies, I also wrote The Composition of Maggie Chine. This ‘day in the life’ is a challenge to the two most common tropes of later female bodily experience – namely, entirely pathologised or unrealistically glossed over. I am now 67; I have much more to write about older women’s lives!
Please do connect with me on Twitter: @PaulaCostonAuth
or via Instagram: @paula.coston