As a child Charlene loved books.
“I hung around in the library all day, and I wrote stories for friends at school, and for the school newspaper. But I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I wanted to work with people.”
Charlene’s first job was as a family support worked in Birmingham.
Then I moved to London and worked in Social Services, with families who had been reported for neglect. After a few, intense, years, I worked with young people for various councils.”
After ten years, feeling burnt out, Charlene moved to Brighton and worked in an office – but soon realised office life was not for her.
“I had my baby and stayed at home for a while. That’s when I started writing, through a blog.”
She went back into youth work, on a part-time basis, but then her marriage ended, suddenly.
“I didn’t know what to do with myself, and I started writing a novel for therapy.”
That’s when she heard of the Write Now scheme, started by Penguin Random House to encourage writers from a marginalised background.
“They mentor you, and develop your writing, and help you to understand the publishing process. I was accepted onto the scheme in April 2017 and received my offer at the end of last year.”
Who is Charlene Allcott
Date of birth: 1981 in Croydon
Education: Sydenham High School. Birmingham University: Psychology.
Family: Single mum, Rosco, 4. (Two sisters and a brother – and her parents fostered lots of children.)
The Day Job: Youth Work.
In Another Life: “I’d be a dancer, because I’d love to tell stories with my body, but I’m very clumsy.”
Favourite Writers: Curtis Sittenfeld; Jeanette Winterson; Alice Walker; Marian Keyes.
Second Novel: “It’s about a mother trying to find herself. It’s quite different.”
Top Tip: Be gentle with yourself. “Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t written enough.”
Web www.moderatemum.co.uk Twitter: @charleneallcott
The Debut: The Reinvention of Martha Ross. Corgi Books: €10.80 Kindle: €5.67.
Martha Ross’s life is in crisis. Her marriage over, she struggles to care for her small son whilst working in a call centre and dreaming of bigger things – like becoming a singer.
“There are no right answers in love and relationships.”
The Verdict: Funny and touching.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 28th July.
© Sue Leonard. 2018.