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Thursday, 27 February 2020
A MAN has told how writing novels helped him cope with clinical depression.
Peter Mowbray, 56, from Kingwood, has just self-published The Second Jezebel, his second story based on the life of Catherine de Medici, a French queen in the 16th century.
His first book, The Serpent of the Valois, was published in 2013 and looked at the earlier period of her life.
He recalled: “I was rushed to the Royal Berks in the middle of the night with the most indescribably painful headache.
“I was there for four weeks and had to lay flat while it healed. I didn’t have to have an operation because it healed itself.”
He was diagnosed with clinical depression after seeing
“Depression really creeps up on you,” said
“She was instrumental in getting me through the worst times, along with my family.”
He spent a year on various medications before he found the one that helped him best manage his condition. The other thing that helped was his writing.
“It was therapeutic to lose myself in something. It helped me relax and my brain worked well at that time.”
He had been researching Catherine de Medici since the mid-Nineties as a hobby and had made handwritten notes. He then started to turn this into a simple story, having found other books on Catherine, an Italian who married into French royalty, to be confusing.
To prepare for writing his first novel, he studied for an online
“I’m not Dan Brown or Hilary Mantel but I’m able to interpret a confusing period of time.”
The first novel followed the Queen’s emergence as a political force and her role in the infamous Massacre of St Bartholomew.
The follow-up covers her later life, including her struggle to keep the throne for her young son.
He was born in Henley and grew up in Bix, where his family ran the village pub, the Fox, which has since closed and been converted into a house.
After leaving Gillotts School, he spent 20 years in the accounts department at Associated Asphalt, based at Highlands Farm, off Greys Road.
He first became interested in history as a child. “I remember as a youngster watching The Six Wives of Henry VIII on BBC TV,” he said. “There were advantages to your parents working behind a bar and not always being there to watch what you are doing!
“From then on I was hooked, with that period in particular. I read a great deal but it wasn’t until some years later that I resolved to put what I had learned to some use.”
“I went on suffering for so long without knowing what it was. If you’re diagnosed it helps because you know the reasons for feeling the way you do.”
• The Second Jezebel is published by Grosvenor House Publishing and is available on Amazon (£10).
20 February 2017
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