Overnight success story for Suffolk mum

LIFE as a stay-at-home mum became so frustrating for Louise Pettit, that she gave her imagination license to run riot. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING hears how she has written a novel through the hours of dawn, after her young son woke the household!AS she sat watching 101 Dalmatians with three-year-old Harry, for what seemed like the 101st time, something dawned on Louise Pettit.

By Tracey Sparling

LIFE as a stay-at-home mum became so frustrating for Louise Pettit, that she gave her imagination license to run riot. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING hears how she has written a novel through the hours of dawn, after her young son woke the household!

AS she sat watching 101 Dalmatians with three-year-old Harry, for what seemed like the 101st time, something dawned on Louise Pettit.

When Pongo and Perdita bounded on to the screen, little Harry remained glued to the scene, but Louise realised she had to do something more constructive with her time. Inspiration was bubbling away at the back of her mind, and she decided to commit to paper an idea that had been brewing for a while.

Just over a year later, her first novel New Beginnings is now complete, a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of Ipswich Waterfront for the first few chapters.

The story centres on a 42-year-old widow who turns her life around after finding out her husband was unfaithful throughout their 20-year marriage.

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Louise, 37, from Otley Road, Grundisburgh, said: “I have aimed to appeal to women who like to read something light-hearted, but with a decent storyline.”

She spent a year writing the book - which she is currently trying to get published - mainly in the early hours when Harry had woken up. She said: “My husband works, so I was getting up with Harry at 4.30am or 5am. When he wakes up he doesn't snuggle back down to sleep like some children, he's immediately awake and wanting to be doing something. So I'd have about three and half hours to kill so I started tapping away at my laptop every morning while he was entertained by Mr Disney on TV.

“I had a plot mapped out but then didn't follow the plan at all! The characters had been playing around in my head so they just came pouring out. There was never a day I was stuck for inspiration. It ran through my head like a film.

“I've always had a romantic notion of a young man falling in love with an older woman, so I created a gorgeous young man to fall in love with my main character Madeleine. If the book was made into a film I could see Cameron Diaz playing Madeleine.”

Louise said she loves the novels of Jill Mansell because they are funny but have a good storyline. She said: “My characters are not based on real people, because as Jill says, people always recognise themselves and it will come back to haunt you.”

But she has used the places she knows, as backdrops to the storyline; the novel is set in Ipswich then moves to Essex and then Cornwall where Louise once enjoyed a farm holiday.

She resigned from her job as an accountant for local government, and hopes that this is the start of a very different new career, writing full time.

Her friends and family are fascinated by her endeavours, and are always asking for updates.

She said: “I used to love writing stories at school and I'm a Pisces so we are supposed to be creative. I just got so much enjoyment out of it that if I could do it for a living I would be very, very, happy. I'd say to anyone who thinks they 'have a book in them' to just try, you can always find the time if you try hard enough.”

“It would be a dream come true for me to walk into a bookshop like WHSmith, and see my books lining the shelves. The ultimate would be to see it selling in Tesco for £3!”

Louise has recently started writing two more books, one set in a garden centre and the second being a crime novel set in a small 'close' where every resident has a motive to the murder which happens.

She has recently approached some agents for representation, and is waiting for their feedback about New Beginnings, but would consider paying to publish it herself if necessary.

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What do you think of this extract of New Beginnings? Post a comment online at www.eveningstar.co.uk, or write to Your Letters, the Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Madeleine Paris stands on the balcony of her luxury penthouse apartment, leaning heavily against the cast iron railings.

Standing there, slightly dazed, she is oblivious to the spectacular view of the marina below with all of its associated nautical comings and goings.

She is gripping the balcony handrail so hard, that the knuckles on her left hand have turned white.

In her well-manicured right hand is a crystal wine glass half full of chilled dry white wine. She is trembling slightly, which makes the bright sunlight dance off her solitaire diamond ring - an extravagant surprise present form Tim to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary (you can imagine how much of a surprise it was, given that she is the main breadwinner in their relationship and that he emptied their joint savings account to pay for it…)

She needs to calm her nerves, having just received the shock of her life. She takes a small sip of the cool dry white wine and slowly turns around and goes back into the apartment and looks in bemusement, for what must be the 20th time, at the little white plastic stick which is lying face up in the chrome bathroom bin. The tell tale window is glaring up at her, and for some strange and bizarre reason, it has turned blue. It really shouldn't be blue as far as she is concerned.

After all, Maddie hasn't planned to get pregnant.

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