Michaela gets it write

Michaela Allen

Michaela Allen always believed she was “no good at English” until her daughter Piper jokingly suggested one day, “mum you’ve got to write me a book”.

Michaela, who is dyslexic, said the idea had never crossed her mind before and she initially laughed.

But she began thinking about it every day while out running and found it rapidly morphing into a serious project, as a pirate tale began to crystallise in her mind.

“Every day more and more would come to me,” she said.

“Eventually, I had this idea of everything that was going to happen and how it was going to fit together like puzzle pieces.  I had it in my mind, that dream, and that kind of drove me onwards.”

By the time she sat down to write, Michaela had mentally mapped not just one novel, but an entire series of four.

However, actually getting her vision onto paper was “like climbing a mountain”.

“Dyslexia was constantly rearing its head,” she said.

“I don’t jumble words, I jumble whole sentences.  So I’d write something down and then come back and discover it was back to front.

“I would say I had to do three times as much work as someone for whom writing comes naturally, especially early on.  The first book was the worst; it was nails on a chalkboard to start with.  It was so hard, it was just like, why am I doing this?  But I just had that clear drive to keep going.  And then all of a sudden it started getting fun, and I started enjoying it, and my words actually started making sense.  Putting that effort in actually worked.”

By her fourth book she was cranking out two chapters a week.

“I freaked out because I was reading my writing back and couldn’t find anything wrong with it,” she said.

“But I’d turned a corner.  I don’t think dyslexia affects my writing any more at all.”

Michaela, who has lived in Cambridge all her life, eventually plucked up the courage to send the first novel, The Bonny Pirates, to London-based publisher Austen Macauley, never dreaming it would be picked up.

“I thought this is absolutely ridiculous,” she said.  “So I was amazed when I got a letter back outlining all the reasons they wanted to publish it.”

The book is being marketed to readers aged 15-17, but would also appeal to adults, she said.

“Right at the start it’s pretty hard-hitting… it is fiction but it deliberately incites a reaction from the reader.  It’s a bit old for Piper just yet, but I’ve read her a censored version and she loves it.”

Having “caught the writing bug” Michaela, a product owner at Spark, has no plans to give up her day job, but said she would definitely keep writing in her spare time.  She is already planning her next book series.

The Bonny Pirates is available from Paper Plus Cambridge and Te Awamutu, and online at www.amazon.co.uk/Bonny-Pirates-Michaela-Allen/dp/1528981006.

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