The latest novel in The Shipyard Girls series has proved a riveting read after making it into the Sunday Times Bestsellers List at the weekend.
Released a fortnight ago, Shipyard Girls In Love, which has also made it to Number 1 at Waterstones Sunderland, is the latest fictional novel in the series inspired by the true story of the 700 women who went to work in Sunderland’s shipyard during WWII.
The successful series is from the pen of Amanda Revell Walton, under the pseudonym Nancy Revell, whose own family worked as platers in Sunderland’s once world-famous shipyards.
Amanda, a former journalist who writes from her home in Roker, said: “When my editor called to tell me that Shipyard Girls in Love had made it into the Sunday Times bestsellers list I was absolutely thrilled! Over the moon!
“The past 18 months since the first book in The Shipyard Girls series was published have felt like a whirlwind – and to have made it into the top ten is amazing.”
She added: “I have to say, though, that the encouragement, support and genuine enthusiasm I have had from local people from the very start has been really heart-warming. It has meant an awful lot, and has spurred me on to do my best.”
Emily Griffin, deputy publisher, Arrow Cornerstone, Penguin Random House, said: “We are thrilled and enormously proud that Nancy Revell’s Shipyard Girls in Love is a Sunday Times top-ten bestseller. It’s been wonderful to see so many readers take the Shipyard Girls series to their hearts since Arrow published the first title in September 2016. We can’t wait to see where Nancy takes her brilliant cast of characters next.”
As the men fought on the battlefields, hundreds of Wearside women took on the backbreaking work of the shipyards, which were pivotal to the nation’s war effort.
More than 700 women were employed in the yards at the height of the conflict, including 130 at Doxfords. Almost a thousand more found work in marine engineering shops.
Though the characters in Amanda’s books are fictional, the shipyards and places they inhabit, as well as the bombings they face, are based on fact. The author references many well-known places in the books and always has a character reading a copy of the Sunderland Echo.
As well as enlisting the help of Sunderland Antiquarian Society, Amanda delves deep into the Echo archives during her research of the era.
She said: “The Echo archives have been invaluable and I always feature a character reading the Sunderland Echo in the books. Funnily enough, I set about creating these characters and have come across real women whose lives are similar and some of their stories you couldn’t even make up, it’s become a case of fiction mirroring real life.”
One of the real life women mentioned in the historical notes of the book is welder Florence Collard, who worked at Bartrams during the war, who Amanda discovered in the Echo archives. Florence was bombed out of her home in Portsmouth, came back to her hometown (Sunderland) and was then bombed out of her home here - and still went to work that afternoon.
The books have proved so popular that Amanda is now half way through an eight-book deal with her publisher, with the next edition coming soon.
•Shipyard Girls in Love is available on Arrow Paperback Original, £6.99, as well as on eBook. Signed copies are also available at Fulwell Post Office in Sea Road, who have long supported the author.