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OUT NOWRosemary Dun has been here before– almost. Thedébut author of romantic comedies with a twist almost had a book published 17 years ago, but tragedy in the form of a serious illness scuppered her dreams. Which makes her publishing deal with Little, Brown imprint Sphere for The Trouble With Love all the sweeter. ‘It just shows that persistence is very important,’ says the 50-something novelist of her late-blooming career(‘The same age as Madonna,’ she quips, when I ask exactly how old she is.)Seventeen years ago Dun was on the verge of signing a book deal when a major neurological illness knocked her for six. A veteran winner of prestigious short story competitions, she was at the Ian St. James Award with a baby clamped to her, when agent Maggie Noach tapped her on the shoulder and asked: ‘Do you have a novel?’‘It was very funny,’ Dun recalls. ‘Maggie was there with Lene Lovich (of Lucky Number fame). It was very surreal.’ She is laughing as she recounts the tale. Noach lined up a book deal, but then – boom! – the illness struck.Dun, a creative writing teacher, had written through trauma before – after her belovedDEBUT INTERVIEWROSEMARY DUNPersonal tragedy and serious illness slowed her down, but a Zen-like persistence got Rosemary Dun’s novel finished in the end, she tells Danuta Keanbrother was left brain-damaged by a motorbike accident,she found writing eased the emotional aftermath. But this illness affected her vocabulary: at its worst, she could barely string sentences together.What strikes me about the mother of two is her determined positivity. The illness was more than a cruel blow. It struck at the core of her identity. Anyone would be forgiven for packing away their laptop for goodin such circumstances. ButDun is different. She is a firm believer that we make our own luck, and knew that unless she kept writing, she’d never be published. ‘It means you are there when the luck happens,’ she explains with Zen-like simplicity. ‘I was not going to let go of my dream that easily.’Painstakingly, she beganto piece her writing life back together, starting with poetry and moving on to short stories, even performing at events like the Hay Festival. An addiction to storytelling indulged in since childhood drove her. ‘I have been telling stories forever,but they were too untidy to get published,’ she says.The messiness, not the illness, she says, is why it took her until The Trouble With Love to get a book deal. It is also why she looks at her time in the wilderness as one in which she could quietlyand with determination hone her talent, and when she realised her voice.The Trouble With Love emerged from two persistent characters in her head, Polly and Spike.‘I started writing about them ten years ago,’ the formerphysiotherapist explains. ‘SoI eventually wrote a novelabout them.’ By the time it was finished her agent Maggie Noach had died. ‘So I started submitting to other agents.’Compared to signing with Noach, finding a replacement proved more difficult. ‘I was getting lots of feedback, saying I wrote really well, and they loved the book, but it wasn’t “quite right”,’ she says. Far from giving up, she realised that any feedback from agents (rather than just a rejection slip) must mean she was heading in the right direction.It was time to get help, which came from more courses and working with bestselling author Julie Cohen. Dun learned thatThe Trouble With Love by Rosemary Dun (Sphere) More romantic débuts by older women writers...Miss You by Kate Eberlen (Mantle) A charming romantic comedy about near misses and more, the novel follows Gus and Tess from teenage sweethearts to 30-somethings, as they deal with the big issues of adulthood. Billed as One Day meets Sliding Doors, it draws on the idea of couples needing to find ‘the one’ – though 50-something Eberlen provides a twist.Forging On by Catherine Robinson (Orion) Robinson’s experience of farming and horse- breeding informs this novel full of charm and dry humour that will appeal to fans of James Herriot. Will starts work as an apprentice farrier, but finds the going rough. However, with his fellow apprentice and gruff boss, he soon finds that he has more to learn than horse care.DUN’S PITCH‘When Polly meets Spike he’s emigrating to Australia in six months’ time. That’s fine: no commitment, no mess. But she doesn’t bank on falling in love,or on making a certain discovery after he’s gone... Three yearson, Polly is a single mum, she’s dating lovely Max, and she might be ready for love again. But then, out of the blue, Spike returns.’mslexia Mar/Apr/May 2017 65

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