I am a Sunday Times Bestselling author of six books, have been shortlisted twice for RNA awards (for Novel of the Year in 2010 with Fairytale of New York and again in 2012 for Contemporary Novel of the Year for It Started With a Kiss), have been published in seven languages and been a bestseller in four countries, have sold over half a million books and still can’t believe all of the above has happened to me!
I always wanted to be a writer. My first ambition was to write a book worthy of display on the shelves of wonderful Kingswinford Library (which, at the time, was not much bigger than somebody’s living room, but to wide-eyed five-and-a-half year old me was a palace of dreams). Consequently, my childhood and teens were filled with lots and lots of ‘Chapter Ones’ and grand schemes for amazing stories that would set the world alight (if only I could write more than one chapter of them).
Then someone at sixth form college suggested that writing books was ‘childish’. So I stopped writing. It was a daft thing to do, but for the next ten years I didn’t write, choosing to believe the Sayers of Doom instead of listening to what my heart was telling me to do.
Fast-forward to 2001, when a lovely friend gave me a very old, reconditioned PC (which I was later to immortalise as Old F the coffee machine in my debut novel, Fairytale of New York). There was something about messing about on a computer keyboard that kickstarted ideas in my brain and one day I wrote a paragraph that began: This city is not mine by birthright… Seven years later, after one fatal PC crash, a very embarrassing email to a dodgy ex (who I’d sent the story so far to, asking for him to send me the chapters I’d lost) and a fantastically scary friend called Lindsey who wanted to read more than I had written, that paragraph had become Coffee at Kowalski’s – a novel I uploaded onto Authonomy.com which, amazingly, was spotted by an editor at AVON (HarperCollins) and published as Fairytale of New York in 2009.
Fairytale became an instant bestseller, reaching number 8 in the Sunday Times Bestsellers List and staying in the top 10 for five weeks. To date, it has sold over 150,000 copies (I thought it would be awesome if it sold 500, so you can imagine my shock when it passed the 100k mark…)
My next five novels, Welcome to My World, It Started With a Kiss, When I Fall in Love, Take A Look At Me Now and I’ll Take New York have all become top 20 Sunday Times Bestsellers and I’m amazed when people from all over the world tweet me or send me a message to say they love my books. I’m currently working on my seventh novel – and first for my new publishers Pan MacMillan – which will be called A Parcel for Anna Browne, due to be published in September 2015. I honestly feel like the luckiest person in the world to be living my dream.
One note for you, if you’re a writer: the dream is possible. It happened for me, so it can happen for you. Never stop believing and never stop creating awesome word-worlds for people to wander through. And if you’d like to know more about writing (or anything else), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!