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Leave Well Alone: Stansted author AJ Campbell launches debut novel

A Stansted mother of three, who admits to being “a crime and thriller girl at heart”, is excitedly awaiting publication of her first book.

Amanda Campbell, 51, of Bentfield Green, sees her debut novel Leave Well Alone – written under her pen name of AJ Campbell – launch on Saturday (August 1). She will be celebrating the occasion with her family at home with champagne, balloons and party poppers.

The debut novel by Amanda Campbell (39041990)
The debut novel by Amanda Campbell (39041990)

“We’ll certainly have a party!” said Amanda. “I have the Amazon proof of my book but I’m waiting for any moment now the box of goodies to arrive. It’s all so exciting.”

Leave Well Alone is described as “a gripping story with a killer twist”. It tells the story of Eva and how discovering her traumatic past threatens her future. When her brother Ben announces he has found their mother, Eva is determined to have nothing to do with the woman who abandoned them 18 years ago to a traumatic childhood in foster care.

She is happy now, in a loving relationship with rich and dependable Jim, and is pregnant. But when her baby is born with a serious hereditary illness, she is forced to confront her mother and her past, leaving her fearing for her baby’s, Jim’s and her own life.

Author Amanda Campbell (39041986)
Author Amanda Campbell (39041986)

Amanda said she was inspired to write by a true event. “What really fascinates me is people and what makes people tick and the things they do. I read newspaper articles and think ‘how could that possibly have happened?’, and I started to create the story around a true event I read about.

“And, being a crime and thriller girl at heart, I love a psychological thriller and what makes people do the things they do.”

Married to Andy, the couple have an older son, Billy, 22, but it was only after the birth of twin boys Edward and Josh, now 14, that she began keeping a journal and creating short stories.

She worked as an accountant for several investment banks in London and then worked for Essex Court Services, but gave up her employment after the twins’ arrival as Josh was born with cerebral palsy and is profoundly deaf and required her full-time care.

Amanda with her son Josh and their dog Max (39041988)
Amanda with her son Josh and their dog Max (39041988)

Amanda said that writing gave her “time out” from caring. “It was my way of dealing with what I was going through at the time, but it’s also something I just love doing – my escapism.”

She enrolled on several writing courses, applied to the Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course and graduated. She started Leave Well Alone in 2017.

“It’s been quite a lengthy process and last year I started working with an editor and I finally got it together,” she said. “I’ve started writing my second book now and am three- quarters of the way through the first draft.”

Launch party live on Facebook on Saturday (August 1) from 5pm (39244814)
Launch party live on Facebook on Saturday (August 1) from 5pm (39244814)

She never imagined her debut novel would be launched amid a pandemic. There will be a live Facebook launch at 5pm on Saturday at www.facebook.com/events/744785246292805.

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