Successful Shropshire author Emma Cooper has returned here to her former college, sharing her inspirational story with a new generation of budding writers.
Emma Cooper came to talk to our A level English students about her career and what it takes to become a professional author. Mother of four Emma studied art and design here at Telford College, before taking a job locally as a teaching assistant at Wrockwardine Wood Junior School. Her latest novel, The Songs of Us, is a big success and has been translated into seven different languages!
She talked our students through the process of taking a book from an initial idea, through various setbacks and rejections, before finally securing a publishing deal.
She said: “I was reminded of why I loved working in education for so many years; I was bowled over by their clear work ethic, enthusiasm and welcoming nature and any pre-talk nerves I had were instantly dismissed. It was a wonderful experience to be able to share with them my writing journey.”
Speaking fondly of the college, Emma revealed that she had been nervous when she had first arrived for her course but soon made great friends with a girl who would become her sister-in-law, as she introduced Emma to her husband, Russell.
“I have such great memories of my time at Telford College. I did a BTEC in art and design and always remember my time fondly… even the charcoal deep in my fingernails and clothes covered in paint! Of course, my life is very different than that teenager studying art could have ever predicted; I swapped my canvas for a notepad and my charcoal for a keyboard.”
Emma added: “You only have to take a step into the Telford College campus to know that we are heading into a very exciting future and I for one can’t wait to see what it has in store.”
Former Charlton School student Faye Oliver, who was part of the workshop, said: “I’m trying to get a book published myself, so this was perfect. Finding out about publishing was the most useful part, and hearing it from Emma’s experience was great.” Amelia Lambie, another former Charlton School student, added: “The workshop was very inspiring and motivational and added to my understanding of what sort of career I want.”
Emma, 42, explained how she started out fitting her writing around her part-time job, while at the same time bringing up four children.
“The idea for The Songs of Us came while I was working in the dining hall. I wrote The Songs of Us in my lunchtimes. It was with much trepidation that I then began submitting it to literary agents and publishers. Rejection letters came in thick and fast – I received over 50 in the end and started to believe I wasn’t good enough. In March 2017, I had an email from a literary agent, Amanda Preston, telling me she loved my novel. By July, I had received publication offers from all over the world. My book was even being fought over in a six-way auction in France!”
It was at this time that she was able to hand in her notice and follow her dreams of being a writer. Her final message to the students was, “Never give up on your dreams, because dreams can come true; it can happen to you.” ?
Her next romantic story, The Last Time I Saw You, is due to be published in summer 2019. You can find out more about Emma on Twitter @ItsEmmacooper, her Facebook page @EmmaCooperAuthor or through her website emmacooperauthor.wordpress.com.