SHIRLEY BAKER, from Leigh, is the author of Aeolus Ruler of the Winds. Shirley is well-known for her regular poetry slot on BBC Essex.

Tell us about Aeolus.

This is the first book I have had published, although my poems have been published in many anthologies and magazines. I have also read them on radio and TV.

How did Aeolus Ruler of the Winds come to be written?

I was asked by the publishers, Essex Hundred, if I would consider writing this book after they had seen a collection of my sea poems at the Southend Book Fair.

I based the stories around the poems and the log I always keep during the voyages my husband Paul and I make in the boat of the title.

It was a sheer delight to write. I didn’t work to any rigid pattern. I just wrote when it occurred to me to do so. It did take me around three years to complete, though.

Do you feel you have a talent for writing, and if so, what are your particular skills?

I do not feel I have any particular talent for writing, but I do enjoy it and I think this comes across in my writing.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing at school, particularly poems and articles in the school magazine.

In my late teens, I wrote a play which was performed by the local drama company.

In adult life, writing poetry became my chief hobby.

Tell us about your childhood and early life?

I went to Westcliff High School for Girls, to the dismay of my dad, as he was a low-paid shoe repairer and he was worried how to afford the expensive school uniform.

Obstacles were overcome and I enjoyed my school life very much, despite the fact I had to leave prompt on 16 to help with the family budget.

I married at 20 to RAF husband Paul, and we lived very happily in a caravan, despite no electricity or running water. It was situated in a farmer’s field. We lived there for two years before we had our first daughter, Jackie.

We then moved to a proper caravan site near RAF Wyton where we later had twin girls, Sally and Debbie. This prompted the RAF to offer us proper housing.

Then we were posted to Malta for three years, where after a disastrous spell in a ground floor flat next to a grocer’s shop, over-ridden with mice, the RAF moved us to a high-rise purpose-built flat.

We were then posted to Norwich, where we had our son Peter, before returning to our home town of Leigh.

What work have you done? Have you been able to draw on it in your writing?

After a series of part-time jobs, such as cleaning and shelf-filling, I obtained full-time work as a clerk with Southend Council.

When my last child left home, I decided to take up study again by contacting the Open University. I obtained a BA honours degree in Art History and Modern Literature.

Are there any “messages” you aim to get across in Aeolus?

Only to convey the sheer pleasure Paul and I had in sailing our ancient boat, Aeolus, around the east coast rivers.

What is your ultimate dream as an author?

I have completed a book of fiction set in a similar area to Leigh. It is accompanied by sketches drawn by local artist Sheila Appleton. Where I go from here will be a problem.

Who was your favourite author as a child?

Enid Blyton, of course!

Which writers have inspired you?

I love the work of Victoria Hislop. The painstaking research she puts into her books is an inspiration.

What tips would you pass on to other aspiring writers?

Stop saying youwant to write a book. Just get on and write it!