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EGA’s Mysterious Librarian

Hello everyone. You are reading Seven Questions with Anna, a Year 7 student at EGA. In a warm, dim room engulfed by books swallowing us, I interviewed a woman that I found out wrote a book that resulted in Amazon’s top twenty of Amazons Hot New Releases in Psychological Thrillers. This woman has been walking in EGA’s corridors for many years right beneath our eyes. A writer of great talent amongst us, a librarian, a teacher...Ms Cheetham!

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Good afternoon Ms Cheetham. I have read your book and I find it a real page turner, amazing all the way through. What or who inspired you and motivated you to write your book?

 

‘I am very interested in friendship and female relationships and I wanted to write something about a close female friendship. How I originally came up with the idea was something that happened to me when I was 10. I went to Spain on holiday and made friends with a girl from Brentwood in Essex. Sometime later, she invited me to her house for a week. Her house rules were different from mine, her parents were extremely strict. We were not allowed to do anything, but she was very naughty, and her cousin used to snitch to her mum. We were then grounded and kept strict watch on. It was horrible! What triggered the idea was that what if there was a bigger secret between the two girls?’

 

Every day we all learn new things that sometimes fascinate us. Writing a book might take a lot of time and effort behind-the-scenes. Is there anything you learnt on your journey that you found interesting or surprising?

 

‘Yes, it is hard work. What always interests me is that when you’re writing you’re always learning. There is a lot to learn about you, your writing and the process. I find that extremely fascinating. One of the things I learnt when I was writing was to manage my time well. It was very difficult to give myself some time off. Well, I work almost full time and I don’t really feel like writing in the evenings, I really don’t enjoy it because I am very much a morning person, so I start very early at the weekends and spend most of my weekends writing. I’ve also learnt that if you’re stuck, you can always get through it. Sometimes, you just have to leave it for a bit and have some thinking time. Thinking time is very important. I do a lot of running and swimming and they help me a lot to think. For example, plots or things that I can’t untangle come to me when I’m exercising.’

 

As children and young people, we all have dreams and aspirations. Most of the time when we grow older, we have new dreams and aspirations but sometimes they stay the same. Obviously now you are a teacher, writer, librarian and I am sure many more but when you were a child, what did you dream of being and when did you discover your passion for writing?’’

 

I discovered my passion for writing at primary school really. I used to write a lot of poems, probably very bad poems but I remember filling a whole exercise book full of my poems and that was really like a novel. I loved reading and I read very often. Though, it wasn’t a concrete thought that I wanted to be a writer because you’re usually not really aware of those kinds of jobs. When I was at school, we didn’t have authors come in or exciting events like that. I had a lot of grand ideas: I wanted to be an actress for quite a long time but then I decided I wanted to be a tennis player. Who inspired me back then was Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. They were just fanciful ideas, but I really had nothing in mind for when I left school. When I was fifteen, I got my first Saturday job which was to work in the public library. That’s when I kind of realised I would find it very hard not to be working with books!’

 

Being one of your readers, again as I have mentioned previously, I think your writing is phenomenal and I read to the very last page. On the last page I saw some links to your social media accounts. Do you hear from your readers much? What kind of things do they say?

 

‘In particular on twitter I had a lot of feedback from readers and book bloggers. Most of them are known for reviewing books. Generally, I’ve had really positive reviews, I’ve also had a couple of people following my website but not actually contacting me. Then obviously, there have been some negative comments because not everybody likes the same kind of books. But I’ve got enough reviews saying that they couldn’t stop reading my book, and now I feel really confident about my writing’

 

Personally, I quite like my English class and creative writing generally. I hope to write a book one day and I am craving for tips and advice. For me and for anyone interested in writing, what do you think makes a good story?

 

‘Firstly, I hope you write a book if that is what you want to do and I am sure you can. If you want to be a writer, you need to read a lot. This would be my advice for anyone really, but If you’re going to write you need to read around your genre. Also, I think characters play a big part in writing a good story. Your characters have to be well developed and in any genre.  At the beginning of the book the characters should have some sort of quest that they go on, through stages in the book and that at the end they achieve it. Everything you write has to relate to the plot and the characters because you can’t have excess stuff that doesn’t string along. A good story line and something with a hook should be good especially in my genre which is psychological thrillers.’

 

In writing your book there are most probably ideas and thoughts that were discarded, was there possibly an alternative ending for the Orchid Girls?

 

‘I think the ending has pretty much always been the same, although I did toy with the idea of a twist that the person responsible was still amongst them. Then I thought that wasn’t really true to the character, so I left that out. I had many other little things that I took out, but they are not very important. Loads changed when I was writing the book: there was a cousin in the beginning, some characters were men that are now women. One character especially, had a big role in the very early days of writing but now he has a very small role. Because I was writing the book for quite a long time, it did change a lot’

 

Lastly, a bit of gossip! Word has reached me that you are writing another book. Could your readers have a bit of a sneak peek on what it is about?

 

‘Of course! It’s publishing on March 28th and it is called “The Woman at 46 Heath Street”. It’s about a house in Hampstead, four women that have lived in that house and all their secrets that relate to the house. In particular, the main character Ella finds out her husband is having an affair and she makes him leave the house but she needs company and support and one of her friends that come has her own reasons for staying there…’

 

 

I have to say it has been a really enjoyable and inspiring evening for me, interviewing Ms Cheetham. She is a woman of great creativity and really fun to talk to! I wish her the best of luck with her new book and all future projects.

 

Thank you Ms Cheetham

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Remember Ms Cheetham’s new book: The Woman at 46 Heath Street is available for pre-order and it is being published on March 28th!