My Life in Pictures

The Early Years

I was born in south-east London in August 1956, the first child of Joan and Tom Fletcher.

I've been advised that a photo of me with no clothes on might help push up the site hit count. I'm not so sure, but thought I'd give it a try here.
The playmate sitting with me in the garden is Big Ted. This is, admittedly, not a very imaginative name for a big teddy bear, but I was only 4 months old and didn't have much experience of choosing names when I got him.
Before long I was up on my feet, although still unable to work out which way on a baseball cap should go--a failing many others today share, but my excuse is that I was not yet 2 when this was taken.
My parents encouraged my early interest in history, and it soon became my ambition to be an archaeologist when I grew up. Except it isn't an easy word to say, so I settled for "a person what digs up old fings."
When I was 3, my parents told me that I was going to have a little brother or sister, and asked me which I wanted. I was happy enough when I got my brother, Paul, even though what I really wanted at the time was a bicycle.
I can truly claim to have had a happy childhood. My parents were loving and responsible people, devoted to each other and unfailing in their care of their children--plus my brother was littler than me, so whenever we played together, I got to have the gun/ sword/ bow and he got to be tied up.


I was a model schoolgirl, the sensible one who handed her homework in on time. With hindsight, it's surprising I had friends at all. I even was happy wearing school uniform, and never got into trouble for the hem being too short--something other girls were always battling.
Again, with hindsight, I bet they're now wishing they'd had a few photos taken in school uniform, as they'd be the only ones without the 70s flared jeans and tie-dye tee-shirts. I'd also add, this was the stage when I realised I was lesbian, which may go some way to explain why I never wanted to wear a mini skirt.
After leaving school I worked for a few years, before going to Surrey University to read physics and pose in front of complex bits of equipment.
For an explanation of this photo, ask any of the 1977 physics intake at Surrey, although it still won't make a lot of sense.
I threw myself into the traditional unending student round of lectures, study, reading, revision, beer, politics, music, parties, and late nights setting the world to rights over coffee and toast...
...which culminated in my graduating in October 1980. I went on to work as a engineer in Harlow and lived in the YWCA. This I can honestly say was the most debauched time of my life. In the interests of decency I will say nothing else about it--but buy me a few drinks and I'll tell all.
Lizzy (and what she made me do)
In November 1982 I went to an awful disco in a dire pub in Dalston Junction (and if you know North London you'll know how dire it can be). I was about to go, when I struck up conversation with a woman instead. We carried on talking for the next 20 years. Her name was Lizzy, and meeting her was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
I soon realised that, in Lizzy, I had found someone who was not only sweet, sexy and clever, but also willing to put up with my less socially acceptable habits.
We therefore decided to buy a house and move in together, me, Lizzy, Big Ted...
...and a rather neurotic cat called Pudding.
Lizzy's account of how I started writing is that, for years, I bored her senseless, spending hours detailing plots for novels that I had worked out but never wrote. In the end she refused to listen to yet another plot and told me that she would only read it when I finished writing it.
Despite my usual ploys (i.e. looking cute and forlorn) Lizzy held firm. So I went to my computer and, after years of pounding away at a keyboard (rather than a quill as this photo implies), the effort resulted in my first published novel--The World Celaeno Chose.
Hobbies and Interests
Over the following years, I frequently surprised Lizzy with the wide range of practical skills that I possess.

I cook.
I make snow teddies.

(And I would like to point out that when this photo was taken, pink shell suits were actually rather fashionable.)
Christmas was always our favourite time of year. The food, the presents, the Christmas tree...
...the parties--some of which I don't remember too well.
When not working or writing, we went on holidays to many far flung places. My early love of history had lead me, via mythology, to science-fiction and fantasy, which is now the genre I write. Although I had surprised myself by becoming a software engineer rather than an archaeologist, I never pass by a chance to visit lumps of ancient masonry


Over the years, my relationship with Lizzy had grown ever richer and stronger. I loved her utterly. I trusted her totally. She was the centre of my world, and I knew that only death would part us.
In this, I was right, but had not imagined how soon the parting would be. In 2002 Lizzy died, suddenly and unexpectedly, of viral pneumonia. Her funeral was on 26 November--20 years to the day since our first meeting in Dalston Junction.
I'm grateful I knew Lizzy--grateful for every moment we had together. She was a wonderful, funny, kind, strong woman and surviving the loss of her was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Often just the thought of getting through the next 5 minutes was more than I could bear.
I don't know how I survived those first few years without her--yet somehow I did it. In the words of Winston Churchill, "When you're going through hell, keep going."

I kept going.

Up to Date

The first 18 months were the worst, as I tried to come to terms with the shock. It took another 18 months to then work out who I was without Lizzy. 18 months after that I met Joanie in a bar in Atlanta airport while our planes were delayed.
Joanie claims she had to resort to extreme measures to get the planes grounded that day, so we had the chance to talk.

However she did it, it was the second huge lucky break in my life. Somehow, I had found another amazing woman who wanted to share her life with me.
June 2011 Joanie and I became civilised, and she moved to the UK. We were later converted, so are now officially married in the eyes of the immigration and tax authorities of both the UK and the USA.

Once again, I can claim to be truly happy. My life is back on track...
...and I still have Big Ted.
Jane Fletcher ~~~