A Lancashire woman is courting success with her first adult novel – 16 years after starting it.
Helen Stafford began Bellebrook’s Secrets while taking part in a creative writing course at Runshaw College, Leyland, as part of an A-level.
When she returned to writing the book a couple of years ago, she was working as a court clerk in Preston. Hence her inspiration for central character Alistair Burgoyne QC.
Alistair is owner of the village manor and assumes he is untouchable until his family are tousled by Trudy Hampstead, a young girl with more kick and spirit than a lethal cocktail.
Helen, 45, from Penwortham, said: “Bellebrook is a fictitious Cotswolds village.
“It is based on somewhere I went on holiday quite a long time ago and it has just stayed in my memory.
“Sixteen years ago I did a creative writing course as part of an A-level and we were asked to write the first chapter and the plot of a novel.
“So I wrote the first couple of chapters and the synopsis and the plan in the course, and the tutor said, ‘You should finish that off, it’s good’.
“It isn’t based on a particular QC but I got the inspiration of having a QC in the story because I worked with them at the time.”
Helen described the novel as “easy reading” and said: “It’s not complicated or high brow.”
“I’ve always written from being at junior school – I’ve always written stories.
“I’ve had articles and short stories published, and I do write for a children’s Christian publishing company called Go Teach. But this is my first adult novel.”
Helen, who has a 20-year-old son called Damon, said the book was dedicated to her late twin girls Rebecca and Grace.
They were born prematurely and would now be 21 years old.