Nancy Revell

Nancy Revell

The first two novels I remember reading were Roots by Alex Haley and Follow A Wild Dolphin by Horace E. Dobbs. I can't have been much older than ten or eleven, but I will never forget the wonder created by the words I found in those books, the knowledge gained, and the images they painted onto my mind's eye. Those two heavy hardback books were the start of my never-ending love affair with the written word.

I believe in Guardian Angels. I should have died in a car accident when I was 17-years-old. One minute I was heading straight for a lamppost, the next I was hanging upside down with my safety belt strapped across me. There were wooden stakes through every part of the vehicle - bar the driver's side. It took the fire brigade over an hour to cut me free. After being taken to hospital I walked out a few hours later with nothing more than a few stitches and a pebble-sized bump on the back of my head. My rescuers later told me that on arriving at the scene, they'd presumed they'd be taking bodies straight to the morgue. When the car was careering out of control and I thought I was going to die, a voice in my head told me, 'It's not your time yet'. I believe I had a guardian angel looking after me that evening and that she or he has been keeping an eye on me ever since.

My first job as a trainee journalist was for a rather bizarrely named free newspaper in north Oxfordshire called The Banbury Cake. It was a great local paper and incredibly popular. I still have a vivid recollection of driving home after my first week and being on cloud nine. I couldn't quite believe I was being paid to write for a living.

Although I had no great aspirations of being a national journalist, three years later I ended up working for the tabloids - something I continued to do for the next two decades. I've had an incredibly eventful and exciting career - exposing sex offenders, investigating unsolved murders, highlighting society's many injustices and wrong-doings - I was even contracted to stalk Brad Pitt and ended up staying uncover in the luxury Cliveden House Hotel, best known for its part in the Profumo Affair. But it was always the stories of ordinary people who'd overcome the greatest tragedies which both moved me and inspired me the most. The resilience of human nature never ceases to amaze me.

I've had a few of my own ups and downs in life: I've had two failed attempts at IVF and found out at the start of the third that I was in an early menopause. During this time, my husband Paul fought two very brave battles with head and neck cancer. Having interviewed so many other people over the years who had gone through similar experiences or far worse, I was determined to follow suit and try to be as strong as I could and count my blessings. I feel incredibly lucky that my husband is still alive - and well (fingers always kept firmly crossed). And after deciding not to go down the egg donation or adoption route, I made a conscious decision to live a 'positively childless' life.

According to family and friends I cook a great Sunday roast - and my Yorkshire puddings are the 'best ever'. But that is about as far as my culinary expertise goes as I seem to have the knack of incinerating just about anything else I cook, and have burnt more toast than I've actually eaten. Hubby Paul says I'm like Wendy Craig from the wonderful Carla Lane 70s TV series, Butterflies.

I am a self-confessed 'Born Again Northerner'. Since moving back to my hometown of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear after living down south since the age of eighteen, I have become a rather annoying walking/talking advert for the north east. I don't seem to be able to stop myself extolling the many virtues of life up north - the amazing beaches, dramatic landscapes, and, of course, the unique people and their inherent kindness and great sense of humour. It's something I try to portray in my books.

I learnt a lot about myself while researching the background to The Shipyard Girls and had my own 'Who Do You Think You Are?' moment when I found out that generations of my maternal family, going back to the mid-1800s, had all worked in the shipyards - and that both my grandfather and great grandfather were killed in accidents in the yard.

I'm a real dog lover and admit, unashamedly, that my ten-stone English Bull Mastiff, Rosie, is my surrogate child.

And my books, of course, are my babies - my own creations which I strive to nurture and infuse with life, love, and laughter.

The Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell is published by Arrow and available now.