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Oldham Author Jacqueline Ward talks about her new book, being ‘deeply’ in love with Manchester and ‘older’ female representation in literature

Oldham based author Jacqueline Ward spoke to I Love Manchester about her new book, representation of older women in literature and why she's donating 10% proceeds of her book to charity.

Her new book, Teenage Kicks is set to be published on International Women’s Day with 10% of all proceeds going to coffee4craig.

It is set in the Northern Quarter of Manchester around the iconic Castle Hotel set in the time frame spanning from the beginnings of Manchester’s punk scene in 1978 to today.

The two main characters, Kaye Macey and her friend Janet search for Kaye’s lead-singer sister, Stella, but find much, much more.

The blurb reads: “Kaye and Janet have seen it all. They’ve partied with the best of them and fallen in and out of love with unsuitable men.

“But one thing is missing. Stella. Kaye’s sister left in the late seventies, and their mother, Imelda, forbade Kaye to look for her. But now Imelda has gone.

“The women search across the city for each member of the punk band Stella sang with. They toast dead pop stars, travel in a camper van called Mavis channelling Debby Harry and Kate Bush, and search for lasting love.

“But both of them know this could be their Last Hurrah and want to go out with a bang. Will they find Stella? Will they find love? Will they find out who was really at the Sex Pistols gig at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1976?”

Jacqueline usually pens psychological thrillers, however, has changed tact for her latest book.

Like all of us, during lockdown when the book was written, she got so fed up with dark stories she turned her hand to writing an uplifting comedy.

Although admittedly, it does harbour a tragic twist.

Jacqueline spoke to us about her role as an author and the difficulties of getting published as an ‘older’ working-class woman.

Speaking to I Love Manchester, Jacqueline, who for this book is writing under the pen name Jax, said:

“As an older working-class woman, I operate a bit of a unique spot as a writer. There doesn’t seem to be that many of us about or represented in contemporary stories.

“I think a lot of people recently related to characters like Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley and celebrities like Tamsin Outhwaite. So that’s why I chose to write about two working-class Manchester Women from the 77/78 days of punk to now.

“There are lots of older, working-class women authors writing about older working-class women. The problem is getting those books published. It’s really difficult to break through into publishing, as many literary agents take on only a few clients per year, and publishers have limited publishing slots.

“Add to that the invisibility of older women in society and it’s the perfect storm for not finding many older, working-class women in commercial fiction.

“Someone I showed the book to asked me to change the location to London and make the women ‘a bit younger’ and I wasn’t prepared to do that! I had to really fight to get this book published and I knew when Spellbound Books offered it had found the perfect home with a publisher who really understood the concept.

The book is already attracting the interest of several film developers.

Jacqueline says it’s based on her experiences hanging around the Castle Hotel, where some of the action takes place, and nightclubs across Manchester.

She continued: “Back then I hung out in The Castle Hotel,  where some of the book is set, and went to most of the nightclubs, and since then I have loved Afflecks Palace and the whole vibe of the Northern Quarter.

“I am deeply in love with both Manchester and music.

“I have always wanted to pay homage to the halcyon days of pub bands and small venues. I hope Teenage Kicks recaptures those times around the Northern Quarter and more.”

All of Jax’s books are set around Manchester, with her best-seller Perfect Ten set around Central Park and the Police Headquarters.

The book is launched on International Women’s Day 8th March,

Jacqueline started writing at the age of 50, having been brought up in Oldham by her teenage single mum.

She is also a psychologist with a PhD and has received an MBE for services to vulnerable children too.

She continued: “I didn’t start writing seriously until I was 50 and now I’m 61.

“I wanted to showcase working-class Manchester women and in Teenage Kicks, we meet Kaye and Janet who search down the decades for Kaye’s lead singer sister, Stella.

“I believe it’s never too late to follow your dreams, and one of my goals was to write the novel my heart wanted to write about Manchester. It is my love letter to Manchester!

“When my publishers, Sumaira Wilson and Nicola East at Spellbound Books first read Teenage Kicks, they were so taken by Kaye and Janet’s friendship and strength they were adamant it would be released on International Women’s Day to showcase older, working-class women and I am honoured that it is.

“But yes, I am proud to be an older, working-class author. It’s fulfilled a lifelong dream.”

And it’s clear the city she loves is getting behind her for the launch of the new book.

Someone has donated a billboard, and the iconic Castle Hotel where lots of the story is set has offered their venue for free for a launch to support the charity.

Central Manchester venues such as Afflecks Place and The Manchester Shop have also agreed to host flyers and posters too.

“It’s the perfect illustration of the city and its people really isn’t it. Everyone’s been so helpful, I love this place.

“Once I told people that we were supporting Coffee4Craig by donating a percentage of royalties, offers of help started to roll in. The Castle Hotel on Oldham Street has donated their venue for the launch, where Manchester artist Mancsy has donated artwork to be raffled for the charity. The Manchester Shop on Oldham Street are showcasing the book and will partner in a giveaway, and lots of people are pitching in to make sure it all goes well. Dave Foran at The Lion’s Den has shared social media and will host the launch of a second book. I even had an anonymous donation of a billboard on Ancoats!

“But it just reinforces what I already know about Manchester – the people are generous and amazing and will step up.

And we asked Jacqueline what advice she had for aspiring female writers.

She said: “I’d tell them to join a writing group. Get writing and get some feedback. There are many supportive writers in Manchester and beyond. I started out writing short stories and submitting them to magazines and anthologies. That gave me the confidence to write and submit novels. Don’t be scared of showing your work to people and think of feedback as a learning opportunity. We all start somewhere.”

10% of all profits from Teenage Kicks will be donated to Coffee4Craig, A Manchester homeless provision which is open every evening, providing a hot home-cooked meal, access to a medic, shower facilities and much more.

Teenage Kicks is out on 8th March 2023 in ebook on Amazon.

You can pick up a copy by clicking here. 

10% of author and publisher royalty profits will go to Coffee4Craig, plus all proceeds from a charity raffle at the launch and any direct donations.

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