A Billingshurst mum is celebrating after achieving a life-long dream with the publication of her first novel.
Juliet West wrote ‘Before the Fall’ over several years while juggling a part-time job and a busy family life with three children.
The novel, which is set in London during the First World War, is inspired by real events and tells the story of Hannah Loxwood, a young soldier’s wife who falls in love with another man while her husband is away fighting.
Published on May 22, the book has already received glowing reviews from bestselling authors.
Booker Prize-longlisted author Alison MacLeod has praised the novel as ‘powerful and poignant,’ while US novelist Ann Weisgarber described the book as ‘an astonishing literary achievement.’
Juliet, 43, first came across the heartbreaking true story nearly eighteen years ago while working as a journalist in London. In 2010 she finally sat down to write the novel, and says she was ‘amazed and delighted’ when publisher Pan Macmillan offered her a book deal.
‘I’m an avid reader and always dreamt of writing fiction,’ says Juliet. ‘But I found it hard to get started, so I joined Horsham Writers’ Circle for inspiration and advice, and later took an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University.’
She adds: ‘Writing the first draft of ‘Before the Fall’ was a real challenge – it was a huge time investment with absolutely no guarantee that the book would be published. But I kept going because I wanted so much to tell Hannah’s story. It has haunted me for many, many years, so I was determined to write the book, even if no-one ever read it!’
Juliet has signed a two-book deal with Pan Macmillan and is now busy working on her second novel.
For more information on ‘Before the Fall’, visit www.julietwest.com or www.panmacmillan.com/author/julietwest.
‘Before the Fall’ (published by Mantle/Macmillan) is available now in hardback and Kindle. A paperback edition will be published on 28 August 2014.