Gillian Harvey on her Route To Being Published

Cover of Perfect On Paper by Gillian Harvey

It’s always fascinating to hear how our favourite authors got their first break. Here Gillian Harvey, author of Perfect On Paper, details her journey, and the positives of this happening at age 40+. Find out more about her latest book, too…

Perfect On Paper – Gillian’s fun and uplifting novel is out now!

Clare’s life might look “perfect on paper”, but it’s time to shake things up a little and put herself first for once…

With a successful career, loving husband, two kids and a gorgeous townhouse, it seems everything is going her way.

In fact, she’s never felt more invisible. Her boss barely remembers her name, her husband is distracted by his new TV job and her daughter has never found her more embarrassing!

But when she’s given a chance to turn her life upside-down she wonders whether she should risk everything she loves…

Perfect On Paper (Orion, Paperback Original, £8.99 eBook £2.99 and audio) is available now on Amazon.

Gillian On Being A Late Bloomer…

Yesterday I had to fill out a form.

When I got to the bit where they ask for your age, I hesitated. Then wrote 43.

I’ve been aware that I’m this age since my birthday in May, but it still feels odd to write it down.

I’ve wanted to be a published author since (almost) the word go. So why has it taken so long?

In 1983 when I was five years old, reading the Garden Gang written by Jayne Fisher who was 7 when she published for the first time, I was determined that I would, too, be a young prodigy.

In my late teens, I was sure I’d be published in my 20s.

Then my ambition morphed into “making it” by 30, and being named on one of those young up-and-coming lists.

The reality? I published my first novel in May 2020, when I was 42, and my second last May.

But in retrospect, I’m quite glad I turned 40 before my first book was published.

Don’t get me wrong – I’d still love to whizz back in time to the early noughties and pen an instant bestseller (as well as actually make the most of the fact I looked fabulous, which I never realised at the time). But I’ve also realised there are lots of reasons why it’s better I finally started climbing this ladder a little later in life.

For starters, it’s been stressful. OK, I was a bit unlucky to debut at the start of a global pandemic (especially with a book called Everything is Fine), but having a bit of life experience under my belt has meant that somehow I’ve coped with a process that is much more emotionally challenging than I’d expected (when I say coped, I mean for the most part… I’ll admit to the odd meltdown).

Also, as a wizened old midlifer, I’ve got more life experience; more to say. I’ve had failed and successful relationships, health struggles, various jobs, house moves, country moves, fertility treatment, four pregnancies and have raised a family to their tweens. I’ve experienced personal and professional rejection, despair and utter joy.

Having lived a little, I feel that I have more natural reserves and emotional depth to draw on – and for a writer, that can only be a good thing.

(Of course, being a late bloomer, I’m lucky that my creative outlet is the written word. If I’d wanted to sing or act, the ship would have more or less sailed by now. But writers hide behind ink on a page; we can be as old and shrivelled as can be, and still hit the bestseller lists.)

Throughout the process, I’ve continued to grow. My understanding has deepened. I have just revisited and edited a novel which right now I am so proud of that I almost can’t believe came from my brain. Could I have written it at 20? Definitely not.

Plus, 40s are the new 30s, right? And 30s are the new 20s. So in a way, I’m just as young as I ever was…

Don’t miss 11 exclusive short stories in our issue out this week, including Enough by Gillian Harvey. Inside you’ll find great reading, plus additional content on our website. Just click on he QR codes within the mag to find out more about the authors and their work. And you can win a book from each featured author in our competition here – good luck!


Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.