Anita Waller blew the dust off the thick wad of faded pages and sank into her desk chair.
She read the first sentence, then turned to her computer and began typing.
The transcribing work was painfully slow.
She’d written the original manuscript 20 years earlier, on her old Amstrad 8256, and the hardcopy had sat in her attic untouched since 1995. She didn’t know what made her dig it out again that day in 2013, but as hours of toil turned into days - staring bleary-eyed at the computer screen in the corner of her kitchen - she felt her resolve grow. The wordcount ticked up gradually - 10,000, then 50,000 - and finally she turned the last page and typed the final sentence: 100,000 words.
“I finished typing it on a Saturday,” Anita recalls.
“I submitted it to the publisher on Monday and signed a contract with them Wednesday. After 20 years of waiting, it all happened so quickly.”
I submitted it on the Monday and signed the publishing contract Wednesday.Anita Waller
Two years on and life is completely different for the Hackenthorpe pensioner. The grandmother-of-seven’s first book - entitled ‘Beautiful’ - came out to rave reviews in September 2015 and has already sold thousands of copies all over the world. The sequel ‘Angel’ was published two months ago and she’s already finished work on her third book, which is due to be released in October.
The fairytale story serves as a reminder that it’s never too late to go for your dreams.
“I’ve dreamed of being a writer my whole life,” confirms the 70-year-old, who worked as a Learning Champion for Basegreen Tenants Association until she retired five years ago.
“But it wasn’t until my three children were older that I got serious about it. That’s when I sat down and wrote ‘Beautiful.’
“I submitted it to a publisher in the nineties and they accepted it for publication immediately. We’d negotiated terms and were on the verge of signing the contract when the company went into liquidation and my publishing deal was gone, just like that. I was heartbroken. I didn’t even try to submit it anywhere else, I just pushed it away in the attic and forgot about it.
“It wasn’t until three years ago that I decided I wanted a digital copy somewhere for my children, and set about typing it up. In the meantime, I’d seen an ad on Facebook for a new independent publishing company, Bloodhound Books, who were seeking submissions and decided to send it in. The rest is history.”
After months of careful editing and waiting, Anita admits she cried the first time she held the finished paperback in her hands.
“It was just strange, looking at this nice glossy book and knowing I’d really done it, it took my breath away.”
And Anita says she’s taken to her new career like a duck to water.
“It took me just a few weeks to write the sequel to ‘Beautiful’; I am pretty quick at writing. I’ve never been very methodical and I’m not strict with myself. I write best in the mornings and once I get into the zone I can just keep going. I don’t plan much either. With all the books I’ve written so far, I just type the first sentence and take it from there.”
Her new book, entitled ‘34 Days’ is another psychological thriller, featuring abuse, family betrayal, and - of course - murder.
“I don’t know where the storylines come from,” she laughs.
And amazingly, ‘Beautiful’ isn’t the only book that has sat collecting dust in her Sheffield home. Anita wrote another book, a supernatural thriller called ‘Essence of Lavendar’ which she claims is her favourite of everything she’s ever written.
“I don’t know where it is!” she admits.
“I stashed it somewhere years ago for safekeeping and we’ve turned the house upside down to find it - as well as all my kids’ houses - and nothing. The storyline is so clear in my mind though that I’ve actually started writing it again from scratch. I’m well on with it now.”
And while she says husband David, her childhood sweetheart who she married 50 years ago, is still getting used to her new career, he’s supported her every step of the way - even going so far as to build her a special ‘writing shed’ in the garden, where she can work in peace.
“He can’t quite believe what’s happened to me in the last couple of years, it’s quite funny for both of us, particularly now I’m starting to earn money.
“I so regret putting that manuscript away in the attic all those years ago, but I can’t complain because I’m loving every minute of where I am now. When I’m done working on what I’m writing now, I have a book full of ideas that I fully intend to make the most of - there are so many stories I want to tell.
NEW BOOK: ‘34 Days’
How much can your life change in just 34 days?
That’s what Anita Waller sets out to discover in her newest psychological thriller, which will be published by Bloodhound Books this October.
Anna and Ray have been married for thirty-five years. They are parents and grandparents and appear to be a normal couple. But behind closed doors something isn’t right.
On the day of their wedding anniversary Anna makes a decision that changes everything and throws her family into turmoil. Anna will discover that she is not the only one who has suffered and by leaving Ray she sparks a series of events so awful that it might just end in murder...