Wigan author rewarded for his patience as debut novel is published

An author who faced more than 100 rejections is finally looking forward to the publication of his debut novel.
Pete FoleyPete Foley
Pete Foley

Pete Foley from Standish Lower Ground, wrote The Shelter last year while on furlough from his job as a service department manager.

He had been writing for a few years and was keen to see his book in print. But he certainly had to persevere when he attempted to find a company willing to publish the book.

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He said: “At one point I was getting lots of rejections.

“You can hire an editor and I didn’t really have the money, but I needed to know where I was going wrong.

“I got a 7,000-word report which was brutal, but it wasn’t good enough.

“I must have got rejected well over 100 times in different forms of the novel.”

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But Pete says he had the “desire” to keep going and finally secured a deal with Cambridge-based Bloodhound Books, which will release his novel on June 7.

The Shelter tells the story of five strangers who are forced to seek cover in a woodland bunker when an unusual category five hurricane threatens to devastate California.

But they discover it is already occupied, as a community leader has built a church within the walls. And while the storm rages outside, he locks the doors, trapping everyone inside.

However, while the book may be set in the USA, it was Wigan’s wintry weather that was the initial inspiration.

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Pete, 37, said: “It was a conflation of many things. I remembered before I started writing it, that year in January we were hit by a pretty big storm by Wigan standards. It rained and rained and my roof was damaged.

“I thought ‘what if it never stopped raining?’ and I got the idea of a storm and people fleeing from it.”

Pete had been listening to podcasts at the time about the People’s Temple in Guyana, where 909 people died in 1978, which further inspired his writing.

It took around 12 months for the book to be finished and despite the initial rejections, Pete is glad he kept writing. He said: “I’m happy with it. I can’t wait for people to read it.”

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He hopes the book will prove to be popular, but he realises just how much competition there is.

Pete said: “It’s difficult for a debut author to get a book off the ground. More than 250,000 fiction books are published each year, so it’s very competitive.

“The real success is being stocked in Asda and Tesco so that’s where I want to go, but I need people’s support.”

He has already started work on his second book. While it is a separate story to his debut novel, he said there is scope for a sequel to The Shelter if readers want more.

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Pete said: “I want to be a full-time writer. Hopefully, this is a big step towards that.

“I am working on another book, but that will be another year in the making.”

The Shelter will be available to buy from Amazon and can also be ordered via book shops.

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