ALL Fenella Miller has wanted her whole life is to write, to take care of her mischievous cat and to write some more.
She figured if she was a published writer before the age of 60, it would be pretty good after a career as a teacher, which would often see her working 60-hour weeks obliterating any hope of free time.
That’s how the 76-year-old embarked on her dream of taking early retirement in 2004 – a move that would see her publish two books two weeks before her 60th birthday.
Since then the author, who lives in Weeley Heath, has written almost 100 books, focusing mainly on WWII sagas and romantic Regency adventures.
It’s a feat Fenella in her twenties couldn’t have begun to imagine.
“That’s always what I wanted to do,” she explained. “When I was in my twenties at home with young children, I wrote about six books by hand in pencil on every piece of paper I could find.
“I never wanted to publish them because my life was too busy, it was just a process that I loved.
“When I retired as a 6th grade teacher in 2004, however, I never looked back.”
Now a best-selling author, Fenella earned £60,000 from her books last year and continues to grow, with the new version of The War Girls of Goodwill House hitting libraries this month.
But it was no easy task for the writer, who suffered a tragic end to the most tumultuous years in 2020.
Novel – Fenella Miller’s latest book, out this month
Her beloved husband, who had vascular dementia, died of Covid on Boxing Day, before her close friend Maureen, another writer, died two weeks later.
“I couldn’t see my husband when he was dying in the hospital and we couldn’t give him a proper funeral,” Fenella said.
“Writing has kept me sane, it keeps me going.
“In the morning, when I need something to get me out of bed, having books to write inspires me.
“I don’t think I would still be mentally capable without writing.
“Other people have knitting and sewing, but putting pen to paper is exactly what I do.
“You just don’t know how many days you have left and I want to make the most of everyone.”
There must have been a flicker of light amid the darkness that began Fenella’s 2021, however, after being chased away by indie publisher Boldwood.
He was offered an eight-book deal to write a Second World War series set in an old house next to the RAF base at Manston in Kent.
Fenella added, “I needed something positive to take home during these difficult weeks and having a new editor was exactly what I wanted.
“I think I may be the oldest writer in Boldwood, but they trust me.
“I pointed out to the CEO that I might fall off my perch before I finished my eight books, but she said she had every confidence that I would still be writing when I was 90 – hopefully ‘she’s right.
“My dream now is to see my books turned into a movie or a TV show.
“I thought putting my books on shelves was an impossible dream, but I’ve made it happen. Maybe that could be my next challenge.
“It’s never too late to make your dreams come true.
“My book royalties last year are double what I used to get as a top teacher and I’m living my dream.”
l You can purchase Fenella Miller’s latest book via amzn.to/3HZBFDV.
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