Author takes 'one last shot' and fulfils lifetime ambition
It has been a lifetime ambition for retired social worker Steve Brotherton and one he has now fulfilled.
Partly inspired by his teenage romance, the 57-year-old has written a trilogy of novels about second chances, fractured relationships and real emotions.
His final book in the series, One Last Shot, has now been published and the Mr Brotherton, says it asks the question of whether love can ever be re-ignited.
"It's a story that's been in my head all my life," he said.
"It's a huge tick off the bucket list."
Mr Brotherton's first book, Another Shot, was released in 2017, and was followed by, An Extra Shot, last year.
The books follow the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, two old flames who reunite in a coffee shop 35 years after the end of their relationship.
The early part of the trilogy is set in Bloxwich, where Mr Brotherton grew up, but the story moves to Shropshire - where Mr Brotherton now lives - when they reunite.
He said: “It’s semi-autobiographical - it’s about a first love relationship I had when I was 17.
"It didn't work out but the story fictionalises that.
"It shows what happened when they lived their lives apart and asks can you ever re-ignite real love.
"At the end of the second book Jo-Jo tells Freddie about a dark secret - something that happened before. She has an abortion.
"He's quite a fragile character. At the start of the book he's taken an overdose of tablets.
"The rest of the book is about what happened then.
"They are still together but they are hanging by a thread.
"It's not just about their relationship. It's about their relationship with their parents and siblings too.
"Some of it is quite painful."
The story is told in first person from both of the character's perspectives, and through a series of flashbacks.
Mr Brotherton, who retired last April, had worked as head of commissioning for Wolverhampton Council, managed a care home for Shropshire Council and was a senior manager in adult social care for Worcestershire County Council.
The father-of-one moved to Telford in 2004 and is now in a relationship with his partner, Tracey Chappell, 53.
"This is the culmination of a lifetime ambition for me and means my full story is now out there in the public domain," he said.
"I would like to carry on writing books.
"Since I retired I've been researching my family tree.
"What I've managed to identify are some really interesting characters.
"I'm drawing up a project proposal to tell their stories in a fictional way.
"Writing is an outlet for your creativity and if anyone is thinking of doing it I would definitely say go for it."
The paperback costs £7.99 and is available from book shops and Amazon.
It will be available in e-book form later this month.
Steve’s top tips for turning real-life fact into best-selling fiction
- Choose your story carefully – Real life is made up of lots of stories, some extraordinary, but mostly everyday life tales, common to everyone – your fiction story needs to be strong enough and told in such a way to hold the reader’s interest and be worthy of their investment, both time and money.
- Avoid mundanity – Real life stories unpack themselves slowly, over years, interconnected with lengthy periods of trivia and everyday events – people living their lives. Fiction writing gives you a licence to be dynamic, creative. Use it wisely.
- Make the most of primary research – Use photos, diaries, notebooks, birthday and Christmas cards that help transport you back to the time in your life you’re writing about. These will all help stimulate your creative juices.
- Edit. Edit. Edit. – Get the basics right: grammar, punctuation, structure, rhythm. Read your drafts out loud. How do they sound? Does it hold together? Have you given the reader time to breathe? Put the draft away, come back to it a week later and repeat the process until you’re 100 per cent happy.