A WRITER has described the ‘surreal’ moment he found out that his debut novel would be published.

Steve Sheppard, 66, moved to Bampton in west Oxfordshire from Surrey 20 years ago and lives in the village with his wife, son and pet cats.

Mr Sheppard works as a technical advisor for website motors.co.uk.

He said he had waited all his life for this moment and was now looking forward to seeing how the 240-page novel called A Very Important Teapot sells. The newly published author said: “Writing is something I’ve always wanted to do.

“I’ve started several books but never got anywhere, for one reason or another.

“Then when I went to Australia with my family two years ago, I got the inspiration for a book.

“I was on the flight back from Australia when I decided to go ahead with the idea.

“I just sat down and wrote – and then carried on writing.

“It was a combination of it being fresh in the memory and being a great place to use.

“Lots of the book is set in Australia.”

After finally overcoming his writer’s block, Mr Sheppard was left with a finished draft.

He describes the book as a comedy spy thriller, adding: “It’s not quite a spoof but not far off.”

“I hope it is an entertaining and funny romp,” he said.

“When I’d finished it, I took it to loads of agents and got rejected, as everyone else does.

“I took it to Claret Press just over a year ago and they told me they were interested and really liked the book.

“All I had to do was take it down from 100,000 words to 80,000 words, which was very difficult as I loved all the words.”

London-based Claret Press was founded in 2015 as an independent publisher focussing on political fiction and creative non-fiction.

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They publish four or more books a year, typically both paper and digital.

Mr Sheppard added: “I’ve been getting some really good feedback from people who have read it.

“It’s quite surreal. I’m 66 and I’ve got a book published and can call myself a published author.”

Local indepedent bookshops are currently stocking the novel, including Madhatter in Burford and Wantage, Mostly Books in Abingdon and the Woodstock Bookshop.

Oxford Mail:

The book is also available online from Amazon and Waterstones. It will also be stocked in libraries across Oxfordshire.

The book itself has a cover endorsement from comedian and writer Helen Lederer. Famous for her roles in Absolutely Fabulous and Naked Video, Mrs Lederer described the novel as "a curiously magical thriller with suburban subterfuge and sparkle" on the book’s cover.

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Mrs Lederer is the founder of the Comedy Women in Print Prize and also appeared on Celebrity Big Brother 20 in 2017, when she was the seventh housemate to be evicted.

Mr Sheppard said he has a sequel planned for publication next year.

He explained: “It’s not finished yet, I’m about three quarters of the way through. I’ve still got to write an ending and complete the first draft. Hopefully it will be ready next month."