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Young Author Revives Lost Labour of Love


Sep 18, 2016

A Sunderland graduate has fulfilled a widower’s wish to help edit and posthumously publish his wife’s final unfinished novel.

After respected North East author, journalist and broadcaster Eileen McCabe died in 2015 following a three-year illness, her husband John Ward, OBE, was determined to see a manuscript she’d been researching and working on in her final months finished.

With the novel almost complete, but with chapters and notes still needing to be pulled together, John turned to the University of Sunderland for help, where he is honorary treasurer on the Development Trust Board of Trustees. He was then put in touch with Amy McLean, an English Literature graduate, who has already successfully penned three of her own novels at the age of just 23.

The pairing proved a huge success and after several months of meticulous editing, Yours in Sisterhood – which interweaves the lives of two extraordinary women over a 200-year time span – has now hit the bookshelves. And just like the connection between the central characters in the book, Amy has effectively channelled and interpreted Eileen’s own words and thoughts.

“When I read through the manuscript I didn’t hesitate to support this project,” explained Amy. “Anyone familiar with my own work will know that I have always loved looking at the ways in which events in the past have shaped the world today and in particular our outlooks and attitudes towards life.

“It’s certainly been a wonderful, emotional journey and a big part of my life over this past year.”

She added: “It was the first time I had thoroughly edited someone else’s work. I have written my own novels, but working on someone else’s journey is so different, you are trying to work out what they’re saying and how they perceive things. But we got to the point where John and I were happy, more importantly we believe Eileen would have been happy with the finished novel. Making sure I translated her work to a standard she would have been satisfied with was a very big deal to me.”

John, from Whitburn, a retired Regional Director at Barclays Bank, is delighted with the results, he said: “All I ever wanted was to see my wife’s labour of love in her final years completed.

“I think she will be very proud of what we have achieved in her memory, and delighted that others will be able to read her work.”

He added: “I am so very grateful to the university and Amy for the marvellous help and advice they provided – without which this historical novel might never have reached the publishing stage.”

The official book launch for Yours in Sisterhood was launched during the summer at Waterstones in Newcastle. It’s also available to buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Yours-Sisterhood-Eileen-McCabe/dp/1533121834

By Emily