At Retford Ladies Probus Club’s October meeting, President Judith Goodall introduced Sue Wilkins to take members on her literary journey from shy 16 year old school leaver to children’s author.
Sue started her working life in Chesterfield Public Library and stayed there for a number of years. She had always been good at rhyming couplets and often composed them on special occasions for friends and family, so it was suggested she might take it further and try writing a story using this method, which was akin to the old Rupert Bear annuals.
Write about what you know is the mantra here and a stray black kitten gave her the inspiration for her first book, Alfie the Cat. This was the easier part, finding an illustrator proved trickier but enter Liz Furness who had just completed a course at Lincoln University.
A garden centre was her first outlet, followed by Cromford Mills which inspired another one of her books, Arkwright the Duck. The National Trust, particularly Calke Abbey, are also heavily involved. Sue also travels the country setting up at book fairs, and gives credit to her husband who is as passionate about the project as she is and, saying she couldn’t have done it without him.
Everything came to a standstill during the pandemic but Sue had an extraordinary piece of luck when out of the blue came a phone call from Marriott Hotels who ordered 600 copies of her books to place as freebies in their country clubs. To date she has six books and has sold 21,000 copies, no mean feat for someone who has had to go it alone with no financial backing or publisher.
The club’s annual luncheon will take place at Ye Olde Bell on Wednesday 9th November when harpist Lucy Nolan will entertain. On 14th December, members will be indulging in a bit of festive fun at Westhill Community Centre, Ordsall, at 10.00am for 10.30am. All are welcome.