Writer in Training


Writer in Training

Author Spotlight - Emma Hornby

emma hornby.jpg

 Today I'd like to welcome Emma Hornby to the blog, bestselling author of historical fiction. She's written a post for us about her journey to publication.


I've always had a deep passion for the Victorian era and have read sagas for as long as I can remember. Therefore, writing historicals was the inevitable route I took when hit with the author bug. I chose to set my books in Lancashire; it has such a rich and interesting past. 

I’d been researching my family tree for years and was fascinated by what I unearthed. Generation after generation lived, worked and clawed out a life in the poorest slums in Bolton and Manchester. I’d spend hours imagining what their lives must have been like, picturing these faceless characters, wondering about their struggles, their relationships, loves, fights, hopes. My mind was soon swamped with imaginary scenarios and I began penning down snippets, immersing myself in the research of the time. The result was a full-length novel and, after honing my craft and learning the ins and outs of publishing, the time came to send my baby into the big wide world...

Some months later, an email pinged into my inbox that had me shaking my head. It had been a week since submitting the first three chapters of my debut to a literary agent in London and automatically, I thought, here we go - 'Thanks, Miss Hornby, but no thanks...' I read its contents a dozen times and still, the words weren't making sense. She enjoyed what she'd read and wanted to... see the full manuscript...? In a daze, I whisked it off and then came the wait. Weeks of obsessively checking my emails, filled with hope one minute then convinced in the next that any moment, I'd receive a big fat NO.

The message arrived. She was around halfway through the book and was loving it. Would I be free to talk on the phone on Monday?


Said day came and my shaking hands could barely hold my mobile. I stuttered and babbled away in my nervousness, even blurted that I'd wanted to submit to her for a while but until now hadn't been able to afford ink for the printer - cringe! Luckily, she laughed kindly, told me she was glad I'd got in touch and that she was very excited about the book and about me. She offered me representation. Somehow, I managed to squeak a yes!

The following weeks were a blur of calls and emails. The book had gone to auction. Publishers left and right were throwing in offers. Finally, my agent informed me we had a winner: Transworld, Penguin Random House, home to Dame Catherine Cookson's publishing, one of my all-time favourite authors. I thought yep, I'm asleep and any moment... Except I wasn't. It was happening. I'd done it! Not only had I secured a top agent with authors on her list whose novels I'd grown up reading, I'd also signed with my dream publishing house. And do you know, sometimes, it still doesn't feel real.

Here's the thing. You have a dream? Please, do not give up. It can and does happen. It really, really does.


A Shilling for a Wife & Manchester Moll are available from all good bookshops and supermarkets as well as online. My third saga, The Orphans of Ardwick, is out 8th February 2018.





Emma Hornby - Official Website


Lancashire saga author Emma Hornby. Hello and welcome to my website.