Blackburn author goes from poverty to penning novels on a sunshine island

Lancashire Telegraph: THOUGHTS FROM ABROAD Margaret Sherlock writes on the island of Lanzarote THOUGHTS FROM ABROAD Margaret Sherlock writes on the island of Lanzarote

IT is fitting that Blackburn-born author Margaret Sherlock has called her debut thriller Against All Odds.

One of 13 children, money was always tight when she was growing up.

As a result Margaret left Blakey Moor School for Girls at 15 to start work at Newman’s footwear factory.

Margaret, now 64, said: “I was born in Smither Street and then we moved up to Larkhill Terrace. When I was five we moved to Pilmuir Road and stayed there for 10 years.

“I suppose because there were so many of us I always felt that I was just one of a crowd.

“I think then I would have loved to have been an only child but now I realise that I learned so much by being part of such a big family.

“Money was always short and there was never enough to buy the school uniform, I remember. There was a lot of poverty.”

The title of her new book could sum up Margaret’s career. From these humble beginnings Margaret went on to have a successful career as a jewellery designer, splitting her time between homes in Torquay and Lanzarote.

Four years ago Margaret set up her own publishing company, Shorelines, to produce an autobiographical memoir.

Seven Sisters Down Under is about a journey she took to Australia with six of her siblings.

But now she has released her most ambitious work, which she describes as “a tense, psycholgical thriller set against the credit crunch of 2008”.

“I really got the writing bug doing Seven Sisters Down Under,” she said, “it was like the first stage of my apprenticeship.

"I wrote that all in longhand but then taught myself to use a laptop. I found out so much about publishing through that book that it enabled me to move on.

“I was going to Lanzarote for the winter. I now do a lot of jewellery restoration and enamelling, which involves using dangerous chemicals. Clearly you’re not allowed to go on a plane with them so I had to find something to keep me occupied while I was out there.

“Just walking around in the sunshine the ideas started to flow and I’d say within two weeks of being there I had the story more or less in my head.

“I worked on the characters and built up a file on each of them before I started to write.

“I’m quite disciplined with my writing and I’m very much a morning person. So I would be up at six and work through until about 1pm every day. I know some writers struggle to bring a plot together but I actually got to the stage of looking forward to starting work and watching my characters develop.

“It’s funny when you’re writing how the subconscious works. A small thing might just pop into your head that becomes a signpost for where to take a character or situation.”

With Against All Odds written over the winter of 2009/10, Margaret has just spent last winter writing the sequel Blind Truth, which will be available later this year. And when she returns to Lanzarote this year a third book is already planned.

“I just love my writing. It’s a way I can be free,” said Margaret. “I think that no matter how old you are, we all have a story inside us and I’ve just been fortunate to have had the opportunity to develop that.”

Against All Odds is available now from Shorelines Publishing priced £7.99. Contact shorelinespublishing @hotmail.com

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