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How I got  published
Writing Magazine

How I got published

Posted 08 December 2017   |   4150 views   |   General Interest   |   Comments (0) The author’s debut was actually her sixth novel, she tells Dolores Gordon-Smith

‘As a child I read everything I could, from books at the breakfast table to the labels on shampoo bottles. I knew I wanted to be a writer. However, I was a young girl from Oldham. I thought that all novelists were aristocrats who only wrote about boarding school and spies. I tried to stifle my longing, but it never went away.

‘It was in my twenties, doing a job I hated, that I finally plucked up the courage to try writing a novel. I taught myself to touch type and camped out in WH Smith at lunchtime, where I browsed the books, read blurbs and swatted up on the literary agents noted in the authors’ acknowledgements.

‘The first three novels I wrote were practice runs. From them I learned what I liked to write – warm-hearted, accessible, quirky fiction. A handful of agents took the time to give words of encouragement alongside their rejections, so I didn’t feel too down-hearted.

‘Novels four and five found me an agent, but I didn’t get that elusive publishing deal. So I entered a few short story competitions instead. When I won three of them, it boosted my confidence.

‘Now it was time to get strategic and to raise my game! If my novels about young women hadn’t made it, I would write about an old man. I love jewellery and own a charm bracelet, so I wrote about that. A close friend sadly died so I wrote about bereavement. I used Chocolat, Slumdog Millionaire and Tom Hanks movies as my benchmark and set my sights on finding a new agent.

‘The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper took eighteen months to complete. I wrote it whilst working part-time as a communications manager for the Co-op. I submitted sample chapters to five agents and when four requested to read the book, I just knew that Clare Wallace at Darley Anderson was the right one to represent it.

‘And with this sixth novel, I finally did it.  The book has now been snapped up in eighteen countries worldwide, which seems so surreal for a book about a humble Yorkshireman.

‘I left my job last year and am still getting used to being a full-time writer. After such a long journey to get here, I’m determined to enjoy every moment of it.’


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