Mum turned novelist tells Work Your Way how she changed her career for a fabulous “family-friendly” career as a Novelist.
I qualified as an Interior Architecture & Design, and everything was going swimmingly. My first proper job saw me learning the ropes at a Birmingham based architectural practice, and I absolutely loved it.
Then the unexpected happened. Actually, it wasn’t that unexpected; marriage and babies are pretty expectable things. By the time our first son was born, the design job I loved suddenly became a distant concern in a very long line. Right at the front of that line, was my need to stay at home with my baby son. My job in Birmingham just didn’t work for us anymore. The time spent travelling, the distance I’d be from my boy, the arrangements for his care – none of it made sense.
And so began my new job as ‘homemaker’. It’s not as easy as I thought, being a stay-at-home mum. It can be very lonely too, particularly if you’re an avid fan of office banter or even just general interaction with the over-threes. But, it was during this pre-school era that I discovered I could make a decent birthday cake – my design degree wasn’t wasted after all.
I began with my boys’ birthday cakes, then, I was asked to make one for a friend. From the friend’s party, another order came in and so Nouskie Noo’s, my bespoke cake business with the ridiculous name, was borne.
Again, I felt a sense of achievement. I had created a business around my family and I had a reasonable work-life balance. When I eventually had enough orders to think about premises I took the plunge, secured a very small business loan and opened my own shop. With my sister’s help, I spent a year building my reputation and client base. Things were going swell, and had we have kept at it for another year or so, I’m sure we’d have been successful. The trouble was…overheads! A year into my venture, the shop was only just starting to break even. The kids broke up for summer, and I had to make a decision. Pay for them to go into a summer of childcare, or close the shop and have a rethink. I know that businesses need longer than a year to establish themselves, but I realised then that for me, success wasn’t about living in a big house anymore, lovely though that would be. I just wanted a happy home life for my little family of monstrous boys and, if I’m really fortunate, a job that brings me some degree of fulfilment.
I have to admit, when I shut up shop, I did feel like a big fat flop. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. The plan was to get any old part-time job to help with the home life, and I’d satiate my creative needs by penning a novel. Then, I entered a competition on ITV, The “Racy Reads” nationwide competition featured on ITV’s Lorraine programme.
Despite fierce competition from over two thousand entries from aspiring writers, my manuscript stood out for its emotional observation and relatable characters. The prize, awarded in February 2013, included lunch with Jackie Collins in Los Angeles and a publishing contract with leading romantic fiction publisher, Mills & Boon.
My new “employer” Mills & Boon know what’s important to me. They know I’m a busy mum who needs ‘me-time’ away from work and kids – even if it’s just so I can read a bit of passionate entertainment myself!
We have 2 x copies of “Since You’ve Been Gone” to give away. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org