A FIRST-time novelist from Poole is using her real-life experience to write crime fiction.

Delle Shepherd, who lives in Oakdale, Poole, works for the Dorset Forensic Team at St Ann’s Hospital by day.

However, after work, she has been penning her inaugural book, The Bookworm that Turned, which is now on sale.

She said: “I work as a clinical secretary for the team, but I have been there for 10 years now, and I’ve started to pick up on all the things that are going on.

“I think that’s really fed into the book.”

The team works closely with Dorset Police and probation service to support people with serious mental disorders who are going through the courts.

Delle, 42, said: “It’s a suspenseful thriller, and I’m very proud of it.

“It took around four years to write, and it’s just amazing that people can go out and buy it now.”

The book is already garnering top reviews, with author Peter Lovesey – author of the Peter Diamond books – a big fan.

And Delle, who has lived in Poole her whole life, said she is “thrilled” with its success.

“It’s getting some very nice reviews, and I’m so thrilled,” she said.

“I’m essentially self-taught – I have done a few creative writing workshops, but nothing more than that. To read the lovely things people are saying about the book is just wonderful.”

Delle began writing crime fiction after a chance meeting in 2007.

She said: “The Bournemouth Writing Circle had a competition running to find the best piece of crime fiction in 1,000 words.

“As soon as I found out about it, the hairs on the back of my neck rose. I just knew I was going to do everything I could to win.”

And after creating a chilling tale about a man who buys his beautiful girlfriend a headstone – before her death – Delle took the prize.

“That’s what started it all off for me,” she said.

“It has been an amazing experience.”

The Bookworm that Turned is on sale at Gullivers Bookshop in Wimborne, D J Brooking in Ashley Road, and via the Amazon website.