16/04/2018
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Why a creative writing course could help you

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Looking back, my second-biggest disappointment as a small child was being given Avon hand cream for Christmas.

Even though turned five in May the headmaster didn’t let me commence school until September. Each morning I watched my older brothers walking to school, envy and disappointment heavy in my chest. I desperately wanted to read – to make sense of those black squiggles that enabled my mother to recite the same stories at bedtime.

As soon as I learned to read I was obsessed. Not daring to turn my light on, I would creep onto the freezing landing at night to read by the dim light until I could no longer feel my limbs or I was sent back to bed. That Christmas my brothers were given torches and I received girlie hand cream. Why not a torch? I didn’t even have dry hands. With a torch I could snuggle up in bed and create a makeshift tent to read my books undetected.

The obsession with reading grew and any pocket or birthday money went on books. Without a book on the go I am incomplete. When I finish a good novel I lose a companion and after an exceptional book I feel bereft. I’ve read a wide range of authors and most genres. I’ve travelled the world and travelled in time without going through the front door. The e-reader is my favourite invention. I take numerous books on holiday without weighing my case down and read at night without being told to turn the light off.

Losing the sight in my functioning eye from a detached retina was devastating but at least audio books were available to me. Discovering cancer within weeks of eye surgery was a trauma but I survived. With mortality staring me in the face I decided to fulfil long-held ambitions so I signed up for a novel writing course with Writing Magazine to produce my first book.

Suddenly I felt like a teenager who’d finally been given the keys to the car. I was in the driving seat and could decide exactly where the story was going. The journey was exhilarating and it still is. I never thought I’d find a pastime I liked more than reading but writing is now my passion. With the expert guidance of my tutor, Lesley Eames, I learned the craft and finished my first book then spent three months re-writing and editing it.

I gave myself a year to find either an agent or publisher. I had a couple of kind rejections  saying  my writing was strong but it wasn’t what they were looking for but a few weeks later Bloodhound Books requested the whole manuscript then within two days offered me a contract. My debut novel ‘Dying to See You’ is being released on the 25th April and my second novel ‘Who’s There’ will be published in September.

And the biggest disappointment when I was five? Being told my new sibling was yet another brother (sorry Craig!).

By Kerena Swan

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