Debut from Lancashire novelist hits the shelves

Inspired: Helen Stafford with her book near the Sessions House court in Preston
Inspired: Helen Stafford with her book near the Sessions House court in Preston
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A Lancashire woman has penned a novel which is now for sale - sixteen years after she started it.

Helen Stafford began Bellebrook’s Secrets while taking part in a creative writing course, and now the story is flying off the shelves.

And Helen said the idea of including a QC in her novel came from working in Preston’s courts.

Helen, from Penwortham, said: “Bellebrook is a fictitious Cotswolds village. It is 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’.”

Helen, 45, began the novel while on the course at Runshaw College. She decided to finish it about two years ago and then sent it off to be published. At the time of writing the book, Helen said she worked as a clerk at the crown and county court, where she took her inspiration to include a QC in the story.

She said: “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.”

She will be holding a book signing in Waterstones on Fishergate between 11am and 1pm on Saturday, after the book’s success since its launch last month. Helen said she had always loved to write, although this is her first novel for adults.

She said: “I’ve always written from 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, who were born prematurely and who would now be 21.