Bernardine Kennedy, from Southend, is a published author of nine books. She reveals how personal tragedy affects the way she writes.

"It was never inevitable that I would become an author. I did a lot of different jobs including being a social worker and air hostess.

"It was having three miscarriages that got me into researching about it. I think when anything medical happens you want to know more and there wasn’t the internet then to go to. Once I started, I wanted write my own stories and began writing features.

"I started writing in 1989 as a feature writer for Women’s Realm and as a travel writer for the Echo. I got my first book deal in 1999. It was as simple as submitting the work and the publisher liking it. I never thought it would happen and so I never really thought about it. I suppose it all worked out.

"I was 53 when my first book was published and it just happened. I don’t think of myself as an age, though. I don’t think it is about age.

"My writing schedule tends to centre on panic! I write for three hours or more a day and that is usually in the morning. If I am really up against it, I will get up at 4am and start writing solidly.

"If I find it a bit boring, I will go and make a cup of coffee, but other times I can write for hours and not realise the time has flown by. Someone once said to me that with the main character of a saga book you have to imagine you have put her into a pit and just when she looks like she is getting out, you start throwing things at her.

"That is essentially what I did with two of four books in my romantic saga.

"My latest book, Gracie, is based in Southend in the Fifties. It was a revelation to find out what it was like at that time. I spent my first 11 years in Singapore for my father’s work and then we moved to Nigeria, before coming back to Southend in 1968.

"I learnt so much about the place and how it was bombed, and the airport now is where the RAF base was. The books are not bogged down in history because the main focus for me is the characters and their lives. I mention the Palace Hotel and pier and also the family run shop Keddies that local people might know."

Bernardine was talking to Louise Howeson