For aspiring writers in need of inspiration, look no further. I was thrilled to read about the story of grandmother, Myrrha Stanford-Smith, who has just signed a deal with publishers, Honno, at the age of 82. Scanning down the page, it was not surprising to learn that Myrrha’s credentials are not limited to matriarch: she is an actress who, having trained at Guildhall, worked in the West End before moving on to teaching and directing. After ‘retiring’ to Anglesey, she founded the Ucheldre Repertory Company and turned to creative writing. If Sir Terry Pratchett’s thoughts about writers being created by a process similar to osmosis, this should make for interesting subject-matter.
Even so, her route to publication is not conventional. She started by sending a short children’s story to BBC Radio Wales last Summer. This generated enough interest to spur her on and look for that elusive deal.
Her description of her reaction to the offer of the deal rang a bell with me. Receiving the news by telephone (as I did), she says that she was ‘Gob-smacked,’ insisting on putting down the phone, pulling herself together and ringing them back to make sure it was true. She had expected the manuscript to be returned with a rejection letter. Instead, there were those wonderful words that ever writer dreams of hearing: Three Book Deal.
This weekend, I spoke briefly at the Winchester Writers’ Conference about what it means to see your work in print. Myrrha summed it up when she said, “To have my book, my words, in my hands as my very own book – it was wonderful.”
The Great Lie will find its way onto the shelves of a bookshop near you this week. If you need further inspiration, I suggest you buy it and see why she got the deal.
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