Best selling Norwich author reflects on whirlwind six months

The Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance conference for Dementia carers. Norwich bestselling author

The Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance conference for Dementia carers. Norwich bestselling author, Emma Healey. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

It is a touchingly-accurate depiction of the struggles faced by those living with dementia that has left readers around the globe laughing and choking back tears in equal measure – and it was written in Norwich.

Now, the wordsmith behind best selling novel Elizabeth is Missing has reflected on a whirlwind six months which has seen production companies champ at the bit for the TV rights to the book.

Norwich-based Emma Healey's debut novel centres around 70-year-old Maud who, while battling the onset of dementia, sets out to solve the mystery of her friend Elizabeth's disappearance.

And inspired by seeing her grandmother Nancy live with dementia, 29-year-old Miss Healey's poignant tale has a personal connection.

In an article penned for Alzheimer's Research UK's blog, Miss Healey said: 'When I began to write Elizabeth is Missing there wasn't so much fiction about dementia and I was looking for a way to explore the subject in a meaningful manner.

'To be honest, I wasn't really thinking of other readers at that moment, it was a selfish beginning. I just wanted better ways to guess what my grandmother, Nancy, and several other members of my family were going through, how they might feel, what they might be thinking, why they said and did the things they did.'

Since its release last summer, Elizabeth is Missing has become a regular on bestseller lists, is now sold is 20 countries and won the Costa First Novel Award 2014.

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Miss Healey said that the journey had changed her 'ambition, career, address and sense of self'.

'2014 was one of the strangest years of my life,' she said. 'I have been able to give up a nine-to-five job, look beyond the dream of seeing my work in print, to the dream of actually managing to write a second novel, buy a house, and I've even found that I can talk to a room of people with a fair amount of confidence.'

She said that it was 'an incredible privilege' to see the book, which was sold for a six-figure advance, on bookshelves in shops and libraries.

'I've travelled up and down the UK taking part in book events and festivals, and it's been wonderful to meet readers all over the country, readers with their own stories of how dementia has affected them.

'Nearly all of these stories have been heartbreaking, but they've also been funny, joyous and bizarre even, and the really strange thing has been how familiar each one is to me as a relative of someone living with dementia, but also as a writer,' she said.

To read the full blog post, click here.

For information about Alzheimer's disease, click here.

Do you have a story? Contact lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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