Ever since she can remember, Hazel Allen wanted to write.

“I remember at school I decided to rewrite Snow White,” she laughs, “I was always telling stories to myself on the way to school and back.”

But, as so often happens, life got in the way and it wasn’t until around ten years ago that Hazel, now 46, finally set about writing her debut novel.

“My husband said ‘just do it’, so I’ve been writing ever since,” explains Hazel, who lives on Boscombe Overcliff.

It took a good two or three years for Hazel to complete her first book, Summerchester Secrets – a romance set in a seaside market town.

She self-published the book, but was delighted when it received international recognition, winning Best Romance Novel at a prestigious book awards.

“I was looking online at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in Chicago, which is one of the biggest international book awards for independent writers. I thought ‘why not?’ I just popped it in the post.

“It got there just within the deadline and I thought nothing more about it. I’d had a busy day at work, was checking my emails on my phone for something to do with work and it was ‘congratulations, you’ve won’!

“I was so chuffed – these book awards are judged by New York literary agents, one who has worked with Stephen King, and lots of fairly serious people in the publishing world.

“It was really the first professional evaluation I’d had, so it was very nice.”

Hazel is now working on editing her second book, which is based in Bath, as well as writing the story for her third novel – in between her full-time job as a consultant nurse in liver disease at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

She finds time to dedicate to her books in the evenings and at weekends, but says a lot of her writing is done on holiday.

“My third book is based in Florida,”

she explains, “I like to go to Florida, I like to get away in the winter. I like to sit there and write – that’s where most of my writing is done.

“I’ve got so many story ideas, I just want the time to write them. I often have one thing that is the one idea and then it just grows from there. I do pretty much know the beginning, the middle and the end, but when I’m writing each chapter it takes off in different directions.”

Hazel says she has had nothing but positive feedback from those who have read the first book, and is now also hoping to write a couple of short stories based back in Summerchester, exploring some other aspects of some of the characters.

“The thing that amazes me is how focused I can be when writing,” she says.

“I could just write morning, noon and night. I find it quite relaxing – I get lost in the characters and the world I’m creating.

“They do say that people tend to blossom as writers in their 40s, probably because they’ve got something to say, they’ve had a bit of life experience.

“I quite fancy taking early retirement and maybe working part time and writing part time. But I will see where it takes me. At the moment I’m just doing both.”

Just completing a book and publishing it is a huge achievement for Hazel, but she feels she has come such a long way in a short period of time.

“I can be very confident in my work life,” she says, “I can stand up and do talks at conferences. But to stand up and say ‘I’m an author’, it’s harder – what gives me the right to say that?

“But I’ve published a book and I’ve won an award, so I can. It’s very self-fulfilling.”

 Summerchester Secrets is available on Amazon, or can be ordered from any bookshop.