SHIT HAPPENS: Jeremy Kyle meets The Thorn Birds
Eileen Wharton, a novelist from County Durham, says that you don’t have to be posh to be published.
Abused wife Rose Starling is living on benefits with her three children on a sink estate in a small town in the Newcastle area, keeping one step ahead of the tally man and dancing in the shadows of various illegal dealings.
Her problems begin when bits of her ex-husband turn up in different places and slimy DI Savage seems to be bending the evidence to link her to the death. Set against a backdrop of Northern council estate life, this fast paced, humorous novel exemplifies the problems caused by poverty, piles and unruly children – think Jeremy Kyle meets The Thorn Birds and you won’t be far wrong.
How was SHIT HAPPENS conceived? Like many of my children, ‘twas a rainy night in Durham on a number 9 bus. Just kidding. I’m much more classy than that. ‘Twas more likely the back seat of a taxi. Still kidding. I was an ugly child so I used humour to make people like me.
I’ve always been a writer, ever since the days when I could pick up a pen and write my brother’s name on the mustard-coloured, 70s wallpaper (well, I wasn’t going to write my own name; my Mam had a hard hand). I used to make books that were held together with pins and practice storytelling by coming up with creative reasons for not having done homework.
When I married I bought a typewriter and tapped away while breastfeeding and watching Supermarket Sweep. I wrote very bad poetry in secret which I’m sure my ex-husband burned along with our wedding album and my Harold Wilson autograph.
Truthfully though, SHIT HAPPENS was conceived when I was going through an acrimonious divorce. I was living with the kids in a council house, in poverty and in debt. My phone had been disconnected because I couldn’t afford to pay the bill and I started writing as a kind of therapy. I entered the first chapter and last paragraph of the novel in a competition run by writer Wendy Robertson in partnership with Bishop Auckland Town Hall and was delighted to achieve a highly-commended. My chapter was anthologised along with those of the other winners and read by a top London publisher who loved my writing.
I used many of the colourful characters I’ve met as inspiration for the people in the novel and many of the scenarios actually happened. However, I’ve never been made pregnant by a Catholic priest, never been a topless waitress and I’ve never smuggled drugs from Amsterdam (at least not in this life). I was born on a Northern council estate, raised on a Northern council estate and still live on that same Northern council estate. Who says you have to be posh to be published?
Sadly, by the time I’d finished writing the novel the London editor who loved it had moved on; gone to that great publishing house in the sky, so I had to try and flog my wares elsewhere. I don’t think I was grand enough for the London market and I eventually came across the fabulous Byker Books. I bribed them with Newcastle Brown Ale until they agreed to publish me.
They published SHIT HAPPENS as an ebook and before Christmas it reached number one in the Amazon humour chart. And so begins my rise to fame and fortune. Well, I’m making enough to keep the tally man and the bailiffs at bay (incidentally, if you happen to be an executive of a film company who’d like to make SHIT HAPPENS into a movie then I’m sure we can come to some arrangement over champers and nibbles – or Lambrini and a donner kebab; Robson Green would make a fabulous Father Down, Denise Welch could be Elsie, I’m sure Jill Halfpenny will turn up somewhere and Mark Benton could play the debt collector when he’s done with wearing sequins and dancing in tights).
I’ve always wanted to see my name in lights and not just because a police officer flashed his torch on my driving licence. I’ve heard a lot of disparaging remarks over the years about young girls living on council estates with four kids. I was that young girl, I live on a council estate and I now have five kids. It doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams and it doesn’t mean I’m not prepared to work hard to fulfil them. I haven’t always got things right and at times I’ve had to struggle. When something bad happens, I look on it as material and think to myself, SHIT HAPPENS.
By Eileen Wharton
SHIT HAPPENS is available for only 99p on your Kindle now on a Special ‘Countdown’ deal from Amazon. Hurry though as it only lasts for a few days! Follow this link for more information http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shit-Happens-Eileen-Wharton-ebook/dp/B0089MN4TU
- “I think kids like to see an old bloke behaving disgracefully.” Steve Delaney talks Twitter, telly and being Count Arthur Strong
- Picture Gallery: Dudley Edwards, I’ve Got Rhythm, RedHouse Originals Gallery, Harrogate
- Fleetneedles Forage: Heavenly Hives at Manchester Cathedral
- “A reader has their own way of interpreting your whole story.” Poet Jackie Kay talks to Northern Soul
The Northern Soul Awards 2018
The Northern Soul Awards 2018 took place at the stunning Manchester Cathedral on November 15. Here’s our list of winners, along with the Highly Commended and Special Mentions for each category. Congratulations!
Sign up for Northern Soul newsletter
The Northern Soul Poll
Recent Tweets for @Northern_Soul_
Right Good Mid-Week Read: Prick Up Your Ears by John Lahr pic.twitter.com/IHSKIhIVVV