Hundreds of you entered our memoir competition run together with publisher Hodder & Stoughton, and the judges had a tough job, but our winner, Kath Hardy, has a truly compelling story.
Kath, 58, is married and lives in Coddenham, Suffolk. She has two grown-up children and now works
as an education adviser, following a career as a drama teacher.
“I was standing at the sink, peeling potatoes for dinner, when Sue James rang with the news I’d won the woman&home memoir competition and my story had been chosen by Hodder to be published. I was so shocked I could hardly speak!
I only started writing my memoirs last September to help make sense of my somewhat chaotic childhood. When I read about the competition in w&h, I had just four days to pull something together before the closing date, but my husband, Colin, encouraged me to go for it, as he knew I had a good tale to tell.
My upbringing is certainly unusual - I was one of ten children, and my tale involves the mysterious fantasy life of my charismatic but misunderstood mother, and a cache of secret letters we found hidden away in her house after she passed away in 1989.
When I met with the publishing directors at Hodder, Rowena Webb and Fenella Bates, they said my story was intriguing and connected with the reader emotionally. Nothing can describe that feeling when people believe in you and are moved by your writing.
Of course, now I have an incredibly tight deadline and am writing on my day off and at weekends, but knowing I have an amazing book deal with a top publisher like Hodder is making my fingers fly.”
And the runners-up, who each receive a Kindle e-reader along with an introduction to a literary agent, are…
Louise Tucker, 45, a freelance editor who lives in London. Louise was inspired to write Looking For Mr Bill after losing her father to suicide. It follows him to Thailand, where he lost a sense of reality and replaced it with fantasy.
SA Johnson, 62, lives in Bristol. Shirley’s mother died, leaving her with an abusive father. Despite escaping to the Cotswolds, he tracked her down and she became prisoner in his caravan, which inspired her story, The Tinhouse.
Dorit Wolff, 76, a retired singer and boutique owner, lives in Eastbourne. Born to Jewish parents in 1936, Dorit fled Hungary during the war. In Against All Odds, she describes how she never gave up on her dream to be a pop star.
Christine Larkin, 58, lives in Southampton and is a training consultant. Christine had an unhappy childhood after being adopted, but later tracked down her Irish family, which she writes about in Catch Moments As They Fly.