Peeling a spud led to author's success

By Charles Heslett HER novels are read across the globe.

Yet romance writer Margaret Allan has not let success go to her head.

She and husband Charlie still live in the same bungalow in Bilton, Harrogate, that they moved into 43 years ago.

Despite having books translated into languages ranging from French, German, Italian, and Danish to even Slovak, her Yorkshire roots remain firmly on the ground.

"Everyone thinks I should have a Mercedes on the drive," she said. "But you only get that kind of money if you marry into a publishing family.

"I've been writing as a professional since 1975. I've had 40 books published and my latest, A Woman of Faith, which has just come out, is my 41st.

"People often think they can write a bit, so I say 'sit down and get on with it'. They soon find out it's hard graft."

Margaret credits the Yorkshire Evening Post for her foray into the world of literature.

Back in 1973 she was a humble Post Office worker until she noticed an advert for a YEP writing competition while making the tea.

The 81-year-old said: "I was scraping potatoes onto a copy of the YEP when I read about the competition.

"I sent in a short story, which I'd written a long time before and was set in the school where my daughter went.

"I forgot all about it until a bouquet of flowers was delivered to my front door along with a telegram which said I'd won."

As well as a year's subscription to Mills & Boon novels, the first prize included having her short story put into print.

Her works are now available in bookshops and libraries across the world, and some have been serialised in women's magazines.

Margaret's latest title, A Woman of Faith, published by Severn House, is part of a series inspired by her minister daughter Heather, 44, and features heroine Andrea Cameron.

Minister

"This latest series is the best thing I've written," said Margaret.

"Ever since I wrote the shorts it has always been in my mind that I would like to write a really big book, set in Yorkshire, about the lives of Yorkshire people.

"Nydd Beck, where Andrea is a minister, is basically a fictional village but it's based on a real place, Knox, which is just down the road and a place where I love to walk.

"These are not goody-goody books. They're not blow by blow descriptions of sex either.

From the letters I get from readers, they like Andrea because she's a flesh and blood woman, not a saint."

The new book, which is set to be published in the US next year, is the second piece of good news Margaret has had this year.

She and Charlie, also 81, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in April. Margaret said: "I bought Charlie a new Fiat Punto – he'd never had a new car before.

"As for the future, as long as I can go on writing I'm looking to live till I'm really old."

l For more information about Margaret's books visit www.severnhouse.com

charles.heslett@ypn.co.uk