In the beginning...
Born shortly after the Second World War in Wigglesworth in the Yorkshire Dales, Jan Michael spent an idyllic childhood there and in the Seychelles – where her parents worked and she ran wild, when not at convent school. She was sent back to Europe, to boarding school in Wales, when she was eleven. For two years she didn’t see her parents; after that, she went home to Lesotho and then Pakistan for three months every summer and occasionally at Christmas-time too.
After university, she worked as editor at two London publishing houses before moving to Amsterdam in 1976 to be editor there. But, disliking large-company mores, she left that job fairly swiftly and turned freelance, working from an old tobacconist’s shop in the Pijp district where a high marble-topped counter served as her desk and the nineteenth-century shelves for tobacco jars held her books.
She lived there for many years until returning in 2009 to the Yorkshire Dales, to live with her husband (an Englishman whom she met in Amsterdam) in the market town of Settle, only a few miles from the place of her birth. In Amsterdam, she used to leave the office to go to write in a café for an hour or so in the morning, as often as possible. Now in the Dales, her office is in the attic, looking across the rooftops to the moors beyond, and she goes to a local inn to write.
Her books have been published variously in the U.K., the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, the U.S. and Japan. She has written five novels, and eight novels for the young; of these latter, Just Joshua was recorded in its entirety on BBC Radio 7 and The Rock Boy was turned into an opera in Germany, for child soloists and choir and with a children’s orchestra. It has been performed many times in Cologne and Bonn. Star Over Amsterdam was also performed as a Christmas oratorio in Amsterdam.
Since returning to the U.K., she has published Moorside Boy, written for young and old, set in ‘Seggleswick’ which raised more than £5,000 for the NSPCC. She has followed that with her latest novel, also set in the Yorkshire Dales, in Settle and at Dent Head, Stone on Stone.
'...Her writing is honest and shows a subtle optimism and courage in finding the life of one individual important.'
'...Jan Michael writes well and elegantly. she has a good feel for dialogue and pace.'