Michelle King releases first book – almost nine years after being inspired by Bishop's Stortford College Festival of Literature
When Michelle King was short-listed in a short story competition as part of the 2012 Bishop's Stortford College Festival of Literature, her passion for writing was unleashed.
Now, nearly nine years later, the 52-year-old mother of two has had her first book published: @MagicManTerry and the Old Fridge-Freezer.
Michelle took about four years to pen her comic novel, in which protagonist Terry Shufflebottom discovers that his fridge freezer grants him magic powers; when he gazes at it, he has visions, such as the whereabouts of his wife's lost engagement ring.
He gains internet fame, thanks to his Twitter account, and decides to use the item of kitchen white goods to try to win the lottery – but mayhem ensues when his mother replaces the enchanted fridge freezer with a new one as an anniversary gift.
The silly story provides readers with much-needed laughs amid the Covid-19 pandemic. "It's completely daft, and it's got escapism in spades," said Michelle.
At the heart of her farce is a serious message that revolves around her characters and their relationships with one another. "The characters are very real. It's not just about a man what wants to win the lottery – it's a whole lot more than that,"said its author.
Michelle, who has lived in Patmore Heath, Albury, for the past 18 months, was born in Bishop's Stortford in the former maternity unit at Herts and Essex Hospital. After she married husband David, 55, the couple moved to Stansted then spent a few years in Somerset before making their way back to Michelle's home town.
They lived in Lavender Close on the Bishop's Gate estate for 23 years and raised two children: son James, 27, who lives in Hampshire with wife Maria, and daughter Abby, 22, who has been living with her parents for the past six months with her fiancé Owen and their three-month-old baby Henry.
Michelle taught music at The Christian School in Takeley, where James and Abby were pupils. She also worked as a hypnotherapist, counsellor and a musician, writing and recording her own material.
Shortly before her commendation at the 2012 Festival of Literature, her musical talent saw her featured in the former Herts and Essex Observer newspaper. Michelle had recorded an EP in aid of the Alzheimer's Society and Cancer Research UK, and got thinking that if she was able to write songs, she might be able to write stories too.
She entered that year's festival short story competition, the theme of which was a character's mistake – and her love of stories was born. "It all came from the encouragement I had from the festival," said Michelle.
From there, she joined a writers' group, Harlow Writers Workshop, where she has been a member ever since. Her peers gave her notes on her #MagicManTerry story while she was working on it.
She has self-published her debut novel with the help of a professional editor who helped to finesse her story. "I wrote it just for me. I thought to myself 'I just want my friends and family to enjoy it and have a book in my hand to say it's done'."
Michelle has been amazed by readers' response. Within a week she sold 52 copies and now hopes to sell it via Amazon.