Archway author’s debut novel success following rejection from publishers

Tina Seskis

Tina Seskis - Credit: Archant

Three years ago Tina Seskis began writing and found she was not only good at it, but enjoyed it.

So when literary agents rejected her, she set about forming her own publishing house instead.

Now the Archway writer has just released her first novel One Step too Far which has been selected for the WH Smith airport and train station summer charts and looks set to be one of the top holiday reads for 2013.

The novel is about Emily Coleman, a woman in a happy marriage with a beautiful son and a great job. But one day Emily gets up and leaves all this behind to live in a hovel in Finsbury Park and as the story unravels, the reader begins to guess why.

Tina has lived in Archway for more than 10 years and the setting for her debut novel was inspired by her familiarity with the area and the alliteration-friendly ‘‘Finsbury Park Palace’’ where her character Emily stays.

Initial reviews have been full of praise, especially for the unpredictable twist in the plot.

But Tina hasn’t always had dreams of becoming a writer. After studying business at university, she went on to work in marketing and advertising for more than 20 years.

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Then a few years ago Tina set out to spend a couple of months doing all the things she’d wanted to do, but had not had time to – acting classes, yoga, tennis and a writing course at Lauderdale House in Highgate.

Tina said: “I loved the writing class. The teacher was fantastic as was meeting the other writers and having the chance to talk about writing.

“I just loved it. But I had no intention of writing a novel.”

She had never written before and was just writing for fun, citing influences such as Agatha Christie and Jilly Cooper.

It was while she was on holiday in Venice in 2010 that Tina had the idea for One Step too Far. Tina began writing the novel and was finished within two months.

At the time, she was also working full time, visiting her ill mother and raising her seven-year-old son.

She said: “I wrote it anywhere and everywhere, propped up in bed, while watching TV or waiting for hospital appointments. I had a weird non-stop energy at the time. I was convinced it was really good from the moment I started writing.”

Once finished, Tina sent out manuscripts to seven literary agents, only to be rejected or never contacted back. By Christmas 2011, she still hadn’t got a deal.

She said: “I worked out the pros and cons of starting up my own company and there were so many more pros, I thought if I do it and fail, at least I’ve tried.

What began as an e-book, turned into a full scale production and Tina’s background in sales and marketing allowed her to create a solid business plan. “I deliberately set out to write a page-turner. I thought if my book can be as commercial as it seems there must be loads of other manuscripts out there that could be too.”

But her one-man operation – Tina did all the copy-editing and proof reading herself – only works if a book is good enough. “It has to be a book I really believe in.”

One Step too Far has been featured in Grazia magazine, is already climbing the charts in the Kindle Top 50 and Tina has been contacted by a film production company and national media.

In just over three months all this has been achieved pretty much single-handedly. She said: “It couldn’t have gone better.”

She hopes to one day have someone else running the publishing side of things so she can focus on her writing. Her second novel, A Serpentine Affair – another mystery novel set in and around London – will be released in autumn.