Wanstead dinner lady publishes book after leaving it in attic for 20 years

Author Karen Clark with her new book The Down and Outs

Author Karen Clark with her new book The Down and Outs - Credit: Archant

After leaving the manuscript of her debut novel gathering dust in the attic for more than 20 years, a dinner lady said she almost gave up hope of getting it published.

Karen Clark, 52, of Cranbourne Avenue, Wanstead, stashed her futuristic science fiction novel in the loft and had almost forgotten about it.

She wrote The Down and Outs in 1989 about a young girl who is brutally assaulted while in an area she is forbidden from and her search for justice.

Miss Clark even had a literary agent on board but said publishers were put off as she wanted to write a series.

“It was just left collecting dust in the attic,” she said. “Then in February I filled out a questionnaire from the publisher and I thought I would never hear anything further and then they rang me and said to self-publish the book.”

The book is about a futuristic world after the fall out from class riots in 2030.

The world is divided into five sectors based on class and the people banned from mixing. After breaking this rule, the heroine is punished in her native quarter before being banished to the non-hemisphere quarter of down-and-outs.

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Miss Clark says she gave up on her dream of getting it published and worked for a magazine for 15 years. She then started working as a kitchen assistant in school canteens.

“I think this should have happened years ago,” she said. “I gave up on my ambition of getting it published but this has woken me up.”

She has already received the final proofs and said seeing the front cover was particularly exciting.

The design is inspired by a dream she had while suffering from anxiety and depression during her 20s.

“I love the cover design,” she said. “It’s so beautiful. It’s the silhouette of a girl. They capture it beautifully.”

n Priced £11.99, it is available from Amazon.