Wanstead’s history is full of cultural contributors, says local author Michelle Harris, who pens racy novels in between creating engaging content for businesses
Wanstead is renowned for its cultural heritage and buoyant High Street with numerous cafés and artisan shops. In this wonderful village environment, creative inspiration and expression has thrived. Whether writing about love and romance, or even anarchy, local literati have made their mark both on the national and international stage.
I work as a copywriter during the day and founded local marketing and advertising agency Star Copywriting. But at night, when the computer is turned off, I pick up my Montblanc writing instrument to pen racy, romantic novels, which are popular with the local community and are selling internationally via Amazon.
Thousands of books are piled high and on bookshelves throughout the house. An eclectic mix of French and English literature, poetry, history, art, philosophy, and even Jackie Collins and Harold Robbins. My favourite writers are Maupassant, William Shakespeare, Frederick Forsyth and Sylvia Plath for poetry.
Diamonds and Secrets – my debut novel – is a racy and romantic novel set in London, Prague, Munich and Venice. Upon its launch, local celebrity Michelle Keegan reviewed and commented on Twitter: “Ladies, if you want a really fabulous read, get Diamonds and Secrets.” My most recent novel, Gayle’s Secret, is a science fiction and political thriller set in the near future with intrigue, passion and a poignant social comment, which has been described as prophetic – especially with consideration for current world events.
Other creatives from Wanstead include poet and writer Victoria Richards, who was highly commended in the 2017 Bridport Prize awards for her novel, Unthinkably, I Leave You. But it is not all love, romance and high drama. Another local writer, Colin Ward, educated at Ilford County High grammar school, advocated anarchism through his books, which he published almost annually from 1970 to 2012. Ward felt that: “Anarchism in all its guises is an assertion of human dignity and responsibility. It is not a programme for political change but an act of social self-determination”.
EastEnders actors such as Tom Watt and Jessica Wallace are other notable residents but also, one of the most revered cinematic names, Alfred Hitchcock was born nearby in Leytonstone. But the proverbial cherry on the cake is Wanstead’s cherry orchards, as referenced by poet Thomas Hood in the 1830s.
So, across multiple formats, our leafy suburb has inspired thoughts, political discussion and entertainment, but most importantly and for its residents – Wanstead is home.
For more information on Michelle and her novels, visit mbharrisauthor.com