The Crime Readers' Association

Helen-PhiferSaturday Sixers: Six Hours Can Change Your Life

13th July 2013


It’s a busy day at work today and probably the first time in a few hours that I haven’t checked my e-mails. I have been working with a wonderful editor from Harlequin who I call ‘the lovely Anna’. She sent me three pages of revision to make to my manuscript before she could take it to the Carina Team to see if they would buy it. I’m a nervous wreck, have chewed nails and I’ve been eating chocolate like it’s going out of fashion. It has been a long six weeks.


I have training at the Police Station where I work so my phone is on ‘silent’ because I’m sitting between two Sergeants. I take a very sneaky peak and there is a missed call from a number I don’t recognise – I bet myself it’s either a PPI or do I want to claim for an accident I didn’t have last year? I put the phone away, listen to my trainer and forget about the phone call.


Two hours later I’m back in the office and remember to check my phone. I have a voicemail and dial it.  I hear the lovely Anna’s voice and almost faint. She tells me she has wonderful news and could I please ring her back today? I am in the office with my friend and colleague Sam. I let out a squeal. I try to tell Sam and say something like ‘oh my God I feel sick, the editor wants me to phone her back about my book. I don’t think I can.’ My heart was racing and my stomach was churning so much I just wanted to throw up. Sam laughs and waits patiently while I ring Anna. For once in my life I am speechless as Anna tells me she is very pleased that Carina would like to offer me a two book deal. I thank Anna and then apologise for talking a load of waffle. I end the conversation with a smile that reaches from ear to ear and I want to jump onto my desk and shout ‘Yesss! I have done it!’ Obviously I don’t because I’d break the desk and probably my neck in the process. Instead I text my daughters, I tell John who walks into the office and then I text my writing tutor and let my writing group friends know on our Facebook page. It’s very hard to concentrate but I still have to do some work because I don’t finish my shift until five o’clock.


It’s finally time to go home and I haven’t stopped grinning. Steve, my husband, is on his way home and I can’t wait to tell him. I had a fantasy that I would be waiting for him to arrive home, I would announce the good news and then we would pop open the bottle of champagne I’ve been keeping in the fridge. Actuality is that when he finally walks past the kitchen door I blurt out the news while trying not to burn the sausage and mash I’m cooking. He asks if we can now move to Bowness and can he retire?  I reply that unfortunately we cannot but I am going to be a published writer. He nods and carries on wheeling his bike around to the back garden.  The most important thing to me is that I will finally be able to call myself an author, the grin is still there and there is this feeling of self belief inside me that money could never buy.

Helen’s debut novel, The Ghost House, will be published by Carina UK in October.

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