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Novelist praises Halesworth support

PUBLISHED: 09:00 16 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:34 01 August 2010

A HIGH-flying first-time novelist has heaped praise on the Halesworth writing group that helped nurture her talents.

Nicky Hodgkinson won an ITV competition entitled The People's Author, which afforded her a publishing deal with Orion.

A HIGH-FLYING first-time novelist has heaped praise on the Halesworth writing group that helped nurture her talents.

Nicky Hodgkinson won an ITV competition entitled The People's Author, which afforded her a publishing deal with Orion.

The resultant book, Life with the Lid Off, is selling incredibly well - and she attributes much of her success to the support she received at the Halesworth writing group Caboodle.

Caboodle meets at The Cut on Friday mornings, and Nicky, from Bedfield, has been attending for the past four years.

"It's a marvellous group of people, a complete mix," she said. "Writing is such a personal thing and you've got to trust people. They've all been really great mates."

Nicky reserved special praise for Ruby Ormerod, who runs the group. "I've been to other writing groups but Ruby's so good," she said. "She criticises constructively. With writing you can so easily be put off and she brings out the best in everyone."

The People's Author competition was launched by Alan Titchmarsh on ITV Lifestyle last year. Nicky heard about the competition from her fellow Caboodle member Kate Chesman.

It asked for real-life inspirational short stories, which were read on television and subjected to examination by judges.

After several rounds Nicky came up against a public vote, where she came first out of 1,000 other writers.

She then had just six weeks to write 75,000 words, which turned out to be a gruelling process.

"It was quite exciting to win," she said. "The downside was they wanted a book really quickly. Having never done it before, it was quite a trip!" She said that the friends at Caboodle helped her through this difficult time.

Life with The Lid Off was published last month and talks of Nicky's struggle to get her life back together after her husband left her with three very young children.

Last month she did a book signing at Halesworth Bookshop, which she was told was the most successful signing they had ever held.

If you are interested in joining Caboodle, they meet at The Cut at 9.30am on a Friday morning. For more information, telephone Ruby Ormerod on 01502 676101.

Life with the Lid Off is available from www.orionbooks.co.uk at £12.99.

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