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Harrogate dreaming

Dreams come true at Harrogate Crime festival

In 2006, I read Tess Gerritsen’s mind-blowing thriller “The Surgeon.” I hadn’t read a crime novel before and had no clue what the effects of that book would be. I read it over three (terrifying) nights and remember going downstairs to check my windows and doors were locked which made no sense at all. Firstly, because it was fiction! Secondly, because “The Surgeon” only preyed on women!

But, the effect of that page-turning novel were profound.

I wanted to try and write a page-turner.

The very next morning, I started writing.

I read every Tess Gerritsen thriller and became a huge fan. I saw similarities - she was a doctor who decided to write therefore this pharmacist (my day job) could also dream to do it! And she was from an ethnic background - another boost for me to try it!

I also became obsessed with the badge on the side of her books – the trademark logo of the cockerel: BANTAM publishing.

I thought BANTAM must be a great publisher to have Gerritsen on their list and every time she brought out a new book, I was drawn to that little badge. Soon enough I realised my other favourite authors, Dan Brown and Lee Child were also with the same publisher and in my mind – that’s the one I was aiming for!

That was 2006.

In 2011 I met Tess at a book signing in Bolton. At the end there was a Q&A session and I raised my hand to ask her a question. I was having a tough time with a specific problem and asked Tess what she thought. She gave me some (tough) advice and I followed it. It turned out to be the best advice I ever got regarding publishing.

Last week, TEN YEARS later, I was invited to a TRANSWORLD dinner (Bantam publishing’s parent company) and duly accepted. Nice hotel, nice food, great ambience. I still feel like a guest, mixing with esteemed authors like Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train) and Fiona Barton (The Widow) and then in walks Tess Gerritsen.

Well, I nearly fell off my chair.

I was like a child meeting a Walt Disney character. I couldn’t believe she was standing right in front of me. I was introduced and immediately told her I was her biggest fan (not at all like Kathy Bates!)

At dinner, I sat next to her and spent two wonderful hours getting to know the author behind the stellar name. It was, by far, the greatest two hours I have experienced as an author (on par with signing the Bantam contract!). She was charming, insightful and offered valuable advice.

I showed her a picture I took of her and I in 2009 at a book launch for her novel, “Keeping the dead”. She had written a message in my copy: “keep writing and best of luck!”

Well, I did keep writing.

Ten years after first putting pen to paper, I signed a copy of Streets of Darkness for Tess.

A stand out moment for this debut author.

Dreams really do come true.*

*(with hard work, single-minded stubborn resilience, belief and more hard work. Plus even more hard work. Did I mention the hard work?...)

#TessGerritsen #Harrogate

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