In October, my debut novel will be published. Some folk have assumed it’s the first book I’ve written when in fact it’s my third.

My first novel, Sunbirds, was inspired by a Caribbean cruise I went on with friends from work in 2004. I’m sure I’d cringe reading it now as it was a ‘practice’ novel.  I knew I needed professional guidance so in 2009 I went on an Arvon residential course called ‘Starting to Write a Novel’.

The experience kick-started my second novel, Buy, Buy Baby, the story of two very different women united by one common desire – they desperately need, want and crave a baby. This novel made it to the short list of the Hookline Books novel competition and to say that it was a boost to my confidence would be an understatement. It was the biggest ‘up’ on the bumpy road to publication. The feedback from the book groups judging it was contradictory but positive enough to keep me motivated.

In 2011, I went on another Arvon course, ‘Work in Progress’, and once home, even keener to see if I could write THE one, I enrolled on the MLitt in Creative Writing at Stirling University . There’s no doubt that the course helped me find my ‘voice’ and one of my assignments morphed into my debut, Talk of the Toun. It’s a coming-of-age black comedy telling the story of love, family life and friendship set in the central belt of Scotland in the summer of 1985.

Finally, after ten years of writing, I’ll swap the title ‘aspiring’ for ‘published’ novelist but the journey doesn’t end there.  If you want to keep me company on the next steps you can find me at or Twitter @HelenMacKinven or Facebook