Budding Welling author puts pen to paper

PUBLISHED: 09:12 19 April 2013 | UPDATED: 09:12 19 April 2013

Author Mary Gibson

Author Mary Gibson


Budding Welling author Mary Gibson is proving that age is no barrier in pursuing your dreams as she is about to have her first novel published at the age of 59.

She was given a three-book deal by Heart of Zeus in January and hardback copies of Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts will hit the shelves in March next year.

Mary couldn’t be happier that she is on the verge of becoming a published author. She said: “I know getting published is the dream rather than the rule so I was realistic.

“This time I thought I had a good story but it can be hard to be subjective, so when literary agent Kate Hordern showed an interest I was over the moon.”

She took early retirement from her publishing career in 2009 to pursue her writing and enrolled in a creative course at Bexley Adult Education College in Brampton Road, Bexleyheath.

Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts tells the story of 16-year-old factory girl Nellie Clark at the start of the 20th century.

She works in a custard factory in Bermondsey and the novel charts her adventures as she gets caught up in a strike and the start of the First World War. There is also an element of romance.

Mary was born and brought up in Bermondsey and had the initial idea from her grandparents’ stories and from reading about a strike in the factory.

“I wanted to write the book because that once-tight knit community has disappeared. These are the stories I wanted to tell before people forgot.

“Over the years I’ve written a lot of stories and sent some to publishers, but without success.

“The class has helped me enormously and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

“They say writing can be one of the loneliest occupations, so having contact with other writers in the class has been invaluable. My classmates helped give me the push to send my first three chapters to Kate Hordern.”

Anne Williams, from Kate Hordern, who Mary originally sent the first three chapters of the book to, was effusive in her praise of Mary.

“I thought it was an outstanding piece of storytelling, with a totally authentic feel for the period and characters that I really cared about – it made me cry three times, which is a record for me.

“Mary has a bright future and her publishers think so too – they were quick off the mark in signing her.”

Rather than revel in her success, Mary has already started penning the second book of the deal. She says all three will be set in Bermondsey.

She also has some advice for anyone else who is contemplating whether or not to send their manuscripts to a publisher.

“Age shouldn’t be a barrier. This doesn’t feel like retirement but a new start in life.

“I love to write and this is a huge bonus. People should follow their dreams and I thought I’d give it a shot when I was offered early retirement. Now I’m doing something I love and getting paid for it.

“I wasn’t really expecting this – so much of getting published is about landing on the right desk at the right time, which I know from working in the industry.

“The feedback I’ve received from people I’ve shown the book to has been excellent and long may it continue.”

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