I write because I love it, because the characters need to tell their stories and because, after Mum went to hell and back to teach me to spell, it was the least I could do.
As a kid I dreaded spelling tests but I did my best. What more could my teacher, Sister Mary Francis ask?
Quite a lot apparently.
‘Nought out of ten, again, Joan Ellis. You are a stupid girl.’
Ten wrong spellings, ten red crosses. And judging by the nun’s expression, they weren’t kisses.
Not wanting to lose face, I shouted, ‘My Mummy says you don’t know how to teach!’
It was true, Mum had uttered those fateful words but, in fairness, she had never intended her comment for broadcast.
‘Mother Superior will want to see your mother tomorrow,’ Sister Mary Francis roared. ‘Be sure to tell her.’
I went home, ate three jam tarts and said nothing.
Next morning in assembly, Mother Superior announced, ‘Joan Ellis, don’t forget; I shall see your mother today after school.’
My teacher smirked and I wet myself. I spent the rest of the day sporting a pair of cavernous navy pants from Lost Property. I decided not to dwell on who the original owner might have been as I waited for Mum. Blissfully unaware of her fate, she arrived wearing her fake ocelot coat, Mary Quant mini-skirt, red lipstick and silver eye-shadow.
‘Good God!’ I thought, adding blasphemy to my many sins.
It was hard to imagine how she could have been more inappropriately attired. At least her fur coat skimmed her knees and I thanked Heaven for small mercies.
Together with my wet knickers, I gave her the good news – she had been summoned to the Headmistress’ office. As she sashayed into battle in her patent stilettos, I knew she would walk it.
Eventually, she reappeared flushed but victorious having told the Head that children learned through play, in a stimulating environment. I put my hand in hers and squeezed hard. She was my Mum and she was fab.
‘Shouldn’t have done that,’ she said shakily. ‘You’ll never get to play the Virgin Mary in the Nativity now. Dammit.’
‘Ssch!’ I scolded sure a bolt of lightening would strike her down.
‘Shame you weren’t so fussy about what you said yesterday.’
I returned to school to find they’d followed Mum’s advice and my once boring classroom had been transformed into a creative space, awash with colour.
Even homework became a game with Mum getting me to practice my spellings on the back of our unused rolls of wallpaper. When she tested me, she let me scrawl the words on her Formica-topped table. After ticking them, she simply wiped the table clean.
Never mind turning water into wine, I had turned into a candidate for the national spelling-bee. Praise the Lord!
The Killing of Mummy's Boy (psychological thriller): ' I slit someone's throat,' the man told the woman on the 4.20 from Waterloo to Portsmouth.' Two strangers meet. One shared interest. Murder. Ben slit a man's throat. Sandra's son saw a stabbing and is on a Witness Protection Programme. When Sandra discovers she’s being stalked, she turns to the least likely person for help, with terrifying consequences. I am Ella. Buy me: [chick lit] 'I am a ginger tom. I am a boy racer. I am a housewife. I am a pain in the arse.' Ella is Bridget jones meets Peggy from Mad Men. Working in Soho's made, bad Adland in the sexist 80s, she is a rare beast - a woman in a man's world, dodging her sleazy boss. Based on Joan's experiences as a copywriter in top London advertising agencies, this funny, fast-paced tale is set against a backdrop of Thatcher's Britain where money trumps morals. Can two unlikely friendships help her go from a girl in the firing line to a woman calling the shots? A bit about Joan Award-winning advertising copywriter, comedy writer, performer, lecturer - Joan Ellis has been them all. With a full-time job in a top London advertising agency and a new baby, she did what any right-minded woman would've done and set up a comedy club. She even appeared on the same bill as Jo Brand. Once. A career highlight was casting a black and white moggie as Humphrey Bogart for her award-winning cat food commercial. Other great performers who brought her words to life include Penelope Keith and Harry Enfield. As a lecturer, Joan taught comedian Noel Fielding all he knows about advertising before encouraging him to showcase his talents on a wider stage. Working for The Press Association, she tutored Wordsworth's great-grandson in the art of copywriting: Buy a host of golden daffodils and get a blue one, free! She was a lecturer in PR and Advertising at Bournemouth University. Suffering from swine flu and sweating like a pig, she moved from London to her beloved Isle of Wight where she writes and eats cream teas with her long-suffering husband, daughter and cat. She recently launched her books at The Ventnor Fringe and the Isle of Wight Literary Festival. www.joan-ellis.com