This week Siobhan Curham reveals how she used her maternity leave as an opportunity to finally pen that first novel and land a publishing deal. I love her story because it just goes to show that becoming a mother doesn’t mean our careers have to go on hold- in fact, it can be the perfect opportunity to start the project you’ve been dreaming of and the beginning of a whole new career for you.
Read on to discover Siobhan made it happen.
What was your career path before becoming a writer and coach?
For as long as I can remember, I’d dreamt of becoming a writer. As a child I was a total bookworm and it wasn’t long before my love of reading spilled over into a love of writing. But when I was half way through my English degree, I lost confidence in my dream. All of the other students on my course who wanted to become writers seemed to already have contacts in that field through their parents. Coming from a council estate and having no contacts at all in the writing world made me feel that I didn’t have what it takes – that I didn’t belong in that world. And so, at the end of my second year at uni, I dropped out and went to work in a shop. For the next few years I worked in a series of office jobs that made me want to staple myself to death from boredom. But my writing dream refused to die and then, when I became pregnant with my son, I seized the opportunity to have another stab at it, setting myself the challenge of getting a book deal before the end of my maternity leave.
What inspired you to start writing your first novel SWEET FA?
I guess it was the old adage, ‘write about what you know’. I was at home with a new baby and we had moved to my then husband’s home town so I was feeling quite isolated. One of the main sources of friction in my marriage at the time was his love of football – if he wasn’t out playing it, he was watching his beloved team play – and I was feeling quite neglected.
But then it dawned on me that moping about feeling sorry for myself wasn’t really achieving anything, so I decided to take a leaf out of his book and follow a passion of my own. So while he was out at football, I started to write. And I decided to use my personal situation as inspiration. So I came up with the idea for a novel about a group of four very different women who are united by their partners’ obsession with football and come together to form a secret club called the Football Widows. I wanted to explore the issues I was facing at the time and write a book celebrating female friendship that would hopefully encourage other women to pursue their own passions and not settle for relationships or situations that made them feel bad about themselves. In a wonderful example of life imitating art, Sweet FA won me a three book deal with Hodder & Stoughton, which transformed my life.
You’re also a coach as well as a writer, how do you find the two work together?
I find that they work very well together as there is a definite overlap. I’ve written eleven books now and although they all cover very different subject matters, they all share a common theme – which is also the name of my coaching practice – and that is ‘dare to dream’. I love sharing my own experiences with coaching clients and helping them to see that if I can turn my life around and achieve my wildest dreams, then so can they.
What’s the thing you like best about your career?
That is has been such an adventure. I really never know what is going to happen from one year to the next and I love that sense of freedom and surprise. And when readers or clients email me to say that I’ve helped them to make real positive change in their lives. That just blows my mind every time and makes me feel so fortunate to be in this position.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Sometimes, being self-employed can be really scary – especially as a single parent. But this is also what makes me the proudest. I don’t have a wealthy husband or family supporting me – I work my butt off to provide for myself and my son. And when I’m in meetings with publishing folk who are clearly from much wealthier backgrounds than me, I feel extremely proud that I’ve got where I have today.
What advice would you give for women who want to become a published author?
Write about the things you feel most passionately about. Don’t try to follow trends or take the ‘safe’ option. When you write from the heart there is a real energy and authenticity in what you create – and the reader will pick up on that. Also, don’t be put off by rejection. It’s never been a more exciting time to be a writer as there are now so many options open to us. Indie publishing can be a great way of launching a writing career on your own terms.
What are your currently working on ?
I’m just making the final tweaks to a non-fiction book for women called TRUE FACE which is being published by Faber & Faber next spring. It’s all about the importance of living life as your true self, following your true calling and not succumbing to the incessant media pressure to be and look a certain way. I’m also about to re-publish my first novel, under the new title THE SWEET REVENGE OF THE FOOTBALL WIDOWS. And I’m writing a book called DARE TO LOVE, which takes the reader on a four week course, helping them choose love over fear in their lives.
What’s your favourite quote?
‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.’ ~ Goethe TWEET IT!
I try to live my life by this quote and have found it to be so true. Try it for yourself and see . . .
Siobhan is an award-winning author of books for adults and young adults. Her Shipwrecked series is currently in development for television. She is also runs a blog and life coaching practice called Dare to Dream
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