I am a novelist. How I got here is a story in itself.
I trained as a nurse. But wasn’t cut out for it. I became a china restorer because I’d always loved art. Turned out, I hated china restoration. Luckily, I developed an allergy to the chemicals I was working with. So I switched again, this time becoming a pharmaceutical rep. Before long, I grew bored with that. So I went to Uni to study PR.
Finally, I found something I enjoyed and was good at. I worked for a big international PR company for three years, then, because of office politics, I left to set up my own PR business. This was hugely successful and enjoyable. After a few years, a friend persuaded me to do Masters in PR. This I did while continuing to run the business. While doing a literature review (as part of the Masters), I discovered that a book should exist that didn’t. So I wrote it.
Suddenly, I developed an overwhelming desire to write fiction. I gave up my business to write and to spend more time with my family. I had no agent, no publisher, no idea for a book. But I followed my dream.
Everything fell into place. I had four novels of contemporary women’s fiction published. I then wrote a Young Adult trilogy. Most recently I’ve written a book of historical fiction, Through the Barricades.
This is what I’ve learned along the way:
- Always listen to your gut. If you feel like changing career just do it. It’s an adventure and makes you feel alive and young again.
- With every change you meet new people. You learn new skills. You learn who you are.
- Never be afraid to set up your own business. It was the easiest thing I have ever done career-wise.
- The hardest job I ever had was checkout girl. Why? Because I had no control.
- Do it your way. They say that as a writer, you should stick to your genre to build your audience. I have written contemporary women’s fiction. I have written for Young Adults. Most recently I have written historical fiction. Just as changing career has brought adventure, changing genre has done the same for my writing.
- Take control. When my original four novels ran out of print and the rights reverted to me, I reinvented myself. I called myself Aimee Alexander after my kids, Aimee and Alex, and dived into the world of self-publishing. It has been an amazing adventure and opened up new doors. Lake Union Publishing approached me, offering to bring out one of my self-published books, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar, under their imprint. It became an international bestseller. That would never have happened if I’d ignored the rights that had returned to me.
- You can never underestimate friendships. The older I get the more precious I realize friendships are. The support of friends, especially female friends, is incomparable. It is a gift.
- Have fun. Life is serious enough.
- Follow your dreams. If you don’t, you lose sight of who you are.
- Dream. And dream big.
Thanks for sharing your story Denise! Head here to find out more about her work or find her on Twitter at @denisedeegan