About Debbie McGowan

Biography Cover


Before I begin, I must confess that my academic training has left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable with this whole first person malarkey, but I'm going to give it a go nonetheless, as I'm told it's less formal, more friendly and approachable...

I'm Deb and it's been a real fight to keep hold of my original surname of McGowan, but I'm insistent, because I like it and, well, it's my name! I was well into my twenties before I felt I could look back at my life and feel proud of what I'd achieved: two beautiful daughters (now young women), a first class degree in social science and a GCSE grade B in mathematics. Yes folks, it took me three attempts to pass maths and if I'd remembered to collect my certificate, it would take pride of place smack-bang in the middle of my living room wall!

Currently I'm living in West Lancashire, in the not so little village of Burscough. I'm not particularly fond of the place, as I grew up in Southport and moved to London when I was 17. However, Burscough does have some great places for walking dogs - the other great loves of my life - so I'm happy to remain here until such time as the call of Watergate Bay becomes impossible to resist.

As far as writing is concerned, I've done it all my life. I learnt to read when I was too young to commit to memory exactly when that was, and grew up in a house where poetry (of the rhyming couplet variety) tripped off the tongue more easily than our names (I still answer to S-Tr-Deb - it was pretty much guaranteed that whichever of us three sisters was being hollered, our name would come to the mind of the hollerer last - this in spite of my being the eldest).

One particular poetic occasion I recall (not very accurately, it turns out) happened thus: my mum has never been especially fond of tinned carrots, so you can imagine her dismay, when opening a can clearly labelled 'Garden Peas' revealed the tiny orange cones that are new carrots. Of course, it goes without saying that a complaint was in order, which I always presumed to have been penned by my gran (on account of her being a big fan of Pam Ayres and with an accent to match). In fact it was my mum who cleverly crafted her grievance in four line stanzas and sent it off first-class to Cross and Blackwell. Their response: a gift voucher in recompense for the inconvenience and a letter of apology - written in verse!

In high school, I drove my English teacher to distraction with my propensity for twisting an essay title into what I wanted it to be. He bet me a fiver I'd fail. I passed (a result which constitutes 50% of my total high school exam success). I never did get that fiver. And I was still at it when, years later, I returned to education and one of my university lecturers felt the quality of my work necessitated the following constructive commentary: 'Do not substitute style for content'.

In short, I've been reading and writing for a very long time, but it wasn't until I was in my early thirties that I really started to do it for real. At some point I set myself the goal of being published before I reached 40 and I achieved exactly that. Looking back on it now, I think I imagined that once I had published something I'd be 'at peace', although clearly this was not to be. After a four year break and a near breakdown, I realised that whatever happens and regardless of what other people think of it, I must write.

And that is where you find me. I set up Beaten Track Publishing in 2011, essentially as an excuse to write. (Un)fortunately, it backfired terribly, for as I type, we have at least 10 publications in progress and I truly am loving every minute. What isn't there to love about working with incredibly talented authors? My role in all of this is perhaps most accurately referred to as backseat editing, for from that viewpoint I can clearly see the road ahead, direct around potential potholes and spot the best parking spots. Later I might help out with a wax and polish, but you won't find me taking the wheel.

Apart from lapsing into metaphor at the drop of a hat (ahem), writing when I'm not editing and walking the dogs, I also have a day job, or indeed, three. If time allows, I might occasionally manage to muster up a family meal. Sometimes I even make the coffee (although I have a kettle wallah for that... I mean husband).