A FORMER Blackburn schoolgirl who was told she could never be a writer is celebrating the publication of her first novel.

Mary Hargreaves, 26, gave up on her dreams of being an author when a teacher at Westholme School, on Meins Road, told her to pick a new career.

Now, almost a decade later, Mary has fulfilled her dreams by publishing her first book.

She said: “I knew I could write and I really enjoyed it but I messed about a lot in class.

“One day my teacher was reading some of my work and said, ‘this is good but you can’t concentrate, you need to give it up and pick something else’.

“I was at that age where you trust everybody who tells you what you can and can’t do and I thought, ‘she’s right, I can’t concentrate or pay attention so I can’t do that’, and went on to do psychology at university.”

After a few years in her field, Mary couldn’t shake the desire to write, and returned to her dream of writing a novel.

The story, a piece of thriller fiction, didn’t turn out how Mary wanted it to, causing another major knock-back in her aspirations.

Eventually, she turned to women’s fiction, and created This Is Not A Love Story, a book about 27-year-old Maggie from Manchester who tries to become the “perfect” version of herself through Instagram hacks and influencer trends.

Mary started looking for an agent in October 2018, and was quickly snapped up, with a publishing deal agreed just a few months later, in April 2019.

Her debut novel will be released on June 11, and is available for pre-order through major sellers such as Amazon and Waterstones.

Mary added: “It’s absolutely crazy seeing my book on the Waterstones website.

“It’s always been the dream, you walk past Waterstones and see all the books in the window and think, ‘that could be me some day’.

“I couldn’t sleep after I found it, I was so excited. When I was given the release date last May it felt like so long to wait but it’s come around so quickly, it’s quite nerve-wracking to wait.”