Lockdown life-change leads to debut novel for Mansfield grandad
Life in lockdown has been anything but tedious and monotonous for Mansfield grandad Michael Elliott.
For at the age of 50, he has upped sticks at his previous, long-standing job and transformed his career to become both an author and a part-time funeral celebrant.
He is now on the brink of publishing his debut novel, ‘The Wrong Man’, which is a crime thriller set in Mansfield and Nottingham.
"I worked for ten years for a great company, Bapp Industrial Supplies, at its Doncaster and Leicester depots, leaving the house early in the morning and not getting home until ten or 11 hours later” said Michael, who has been married to wife Debbie for 26 years.
"Like many people, I just thought that was how it had to be.
"But then I decided I wanted to do something different with my life.”
Michael, who has two children and three grandchildren, explained: "Initially, I planned to go into property, but then the pandemic hit us and lockdown came.
"I then decided to be a funeral celebrant, which is someone who delivers a service for non-religious funerals.
"But I still had one other dream – writing a novel. My wife has always said I had one in me.
"Debbie believed in me and I knew that if I put my mind to it, I could do it. So we sat down and put the characters together for my first novel. I wish I’d done it years ago.”
Michael has self-published the book, with the help of Gail Powell, from the Yorkshire-based Solopreneur Publishing, who supplied her proofreading and editing expertise.
‘The Wrong Man’, which is released on Monday, May 3, focuses on veteran crook Frank, who sits at the top table of the criminal underworld but has an Achilles heel – his twin sons.
Frank loves one of them and sees him as his natural heir, but despises the other, whom he blames for the death of his beloved wife in childbirth.
"I have already had some orders and some good reviews,” said Michael. “The common theme of the reviews is that it is a gritty, raw and real story, very much in the ‘Get Carter’ vein.
"They say it has a street-level, working-class feel to it. I wrote it to reflect the Mansfield way of speaking so, hopefully, it will resonate with local people and they will enjoy it.”
Michael is already halfway through the sequel to ‘The Wrong Man’ and is also penning a psychological thriller, so he is hoping to “make some kind of a career out of being an author”.
But also thriving is his side job at funerals, which he took up after a suggestion by his future son-in-law, who works as a pallbearer.
"I have always been comfortable with public speaking, and I enjoy giving people a fitting send-off,” said Michael.
“I meet some wonderfully interesting people, who are so appreciative of what I do for their loved ones.
"I feel very lucky to be doing things I enjoy. I was sitting in the garden the other day, thinking: this is how life should be.”
‘The Wrong Man’ can be ordered from Michael’s website, www.mjelliottauthor.co.uk