I started writing fiction in my forties because I missed making sculptures and I also needed an antidote to academic writing. I loved it so much I have not stopped. Looking back now, I see a natural progression from school reports in which ‘too much imagination’ headed the list of misdemeanours, through years of being passionately involved with poetry, music, making sculptures, trying to understand how the brain works and eventually writing stories that combine all these interests.

What I write is fiction, but I try and look honestly and realistically at the way individuals cope with what life throws at them. In my first novel, A Small Rain, I was particularly interested in the way that, nowadays, we play in one corner and sing in another, or to put it plainly we go swimming with one set of friends, work with another, and socialise with yet another. The connections between these different groups are often hidden from us and could take us by surprise.

In my second novel Unseen Unsung I allowed my passion for singing free rein. I have been fascinated by the determination and courage of individuals and the staying power of love and kindness in the strange roller coaster we have experienced over the turn of the millennium. In Unseen, Unsung I want to say that good things can and do happen on the small scale even when world events are at their worst.

My third novel Border Line, was published on 5 December 2014, it explores what happens to the ‘perpetrators’ of disasters. We give therapy to the victims; but even law-abiding citizens can also cause disasters and I was interested in how they cope. I used the experience of a strange few days I spent in Slovenia as backdrop and added the exercises that drama students perform into the mix. I wanted also to raise the subject of choice in how we die.

My non-fiction research, Surviving the Death Railway: a POW’s Memoirs and Letters from Home, was published by Pen & Sword in June 2016. My father and and his 70 strong Signals Unit were captured at the Fall of Singapore. I put together his Memoirs, the letters he and my mother wrote during the war and the hundreds of letters written to my mother by the families of the men imprisoned with him. Using their own words wherever possible, I have tried to tell the story of separation and survival, hope and heartbreak that so many of our parents and grandparents lived through.


Becoming a writer


Hilary Custance Green


As a child I lived in England, Gibraltar and Germany, and went to school in Belgium. Languages were my first love but I became a sculptor. I took a degree in Art History and then another in Fine Art Sculpture after which I worked as a sculptor for many years. During this time I married and had two daughters (one now a theatre director and the other a painter). As they grew up, I took an Open University degree in Psychology, followed by a PhD at Cambridge University.

    My first novel, A Small Rain, was written alongside my PhD. For fifteen years I worked for the Medical Research Council studying the attention systems of the brain. In my last few years of work we investigated language and memory systems by studying various forms of early-onset Cognitive Disorders. I garden to exhaustion when the weather permits. I go to the opera with my husband whenever I can. In the last couple of years I have had great fun learning to dance the Lindy Hop.

Member of the Society of Authors