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Catching up with Chinley author Mandy Berriman

Gabrielle Pickard Whitehead

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Mandy Berriman Home Festival of Writing Peak District Chapel-en-le-Frith Rems Café Bar

Chinley author Mandy Berriman

When I met up with Mandy Berriman  I listened transfixed to her story about becoming a published author and the inspiration for her recently published novel – Home.

Mandy was born in Germany and grew up in Edinburgh. After a series of relocations around the Britain and a short period in New Zealand, Mandy and her husband, who she met at Sheffield University, finally settled in Chinley, where they’ve been for the last 11 years with their two boys and dogs.

Mandy, a primary school teacher, has always loved to write stories but it wasn’t until she was teaching a session on creative writing that the spark was ignited to begin writing properly.

She began to write short stories and owes much of her success to The Writers’ Workshop, which gave her invaluable editorial feedback on her manuscripts. Mandy’s journey to becoming a published author also took her to the Arvon Writer’s House, Britain’s ‘home of creative writing’ which offers residential courses and retreats led by highly acclaimed writers in Shropshire, Devon and Yorkshire.

However, Mandy admits the most influential component of her ‘writing apprenticeship’ has been the Festival of Writing in York, the annual festival designed to bring writers, agents and publishers together.

As Mandy and I shared our enthusiasm of the unspoilt and unique landscapes of the Peak District, the author recalled an incident when she was suffering from a bout of writer’s block so went for a bike ride around Cracken Edge. Halfway through the cycle, Mandy had a ‘lightbulb’ moment, with the first line of a short story popping into her head. Not wanting to forget the eureka line, Mandy hastily cycled back home, where she scribbled down her idea, soaking and caked in mud.

We both agreed, if you’re looking for creative inspiration, the Peak District is the place to get it.

Since the launch of Mandy’s first novel, Home, the book has been warmly received, generating a string of five-star reviews on Amazon.  Home is an emotionally powerful story that explores the issue of homelessness through the eyes of four-year-old Jesika who lives in a rundown flat with her Mum and baby brother Toby.

Mandy Berriman

Mandy says Jesika ‘walked into her life’ as the protagonist of a short story she was working on for Stories for Homes 2, an anthology of short fiction with home-based themes in support of the housing charity Shelter. Jesika kept ‘nagging away’ at Mandy, compelling the author to write a full novel on the youngster and her and her family’s plight.

Testament of the stir Mandy Berriman’s novel is creating in the world of literacy was how well attended Mandy’s Reading Matter’s book launch event was at Rems Café Bar at Restaurant in Chapel-en-le-Frith. In March this year, a group of around 60 gathered to listen to a Q&A session with Mandy and to buy a signed copy of Home.

And that’s not all! In between writing, book launches and Q&A sessions, Mandy has been filming video diaries for her appearance on ITV’s ‘This Time Next Year’ with Davina McCall. Mandy appeared on the show, which was aired in May. True to her aspirations, through hard work, commitment, not to mention an incredibly rousing and emotional book, Mandy did, of course, get the publishing contract she’d dreamt of, her achievements proving to be a hit on ‘This Time Next Year.’ 

“Being on the show was incredibly daunting – I don’t think I’ve ever felt that nervous!”, said Mandy. 

“However, the experience over the whole year was well worth it. The day at the book printers is one I’ll never forget, and the filming team were brilliant at helping me to relax and forget about the camera in my face.” 

You can purchase Mandy Berriman’s heart-stopping novel Home on Amazon.

Though be warned, once you start reading this book, you won’t put it down!