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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Skyros Writers' Lab participant, Paula Iley, snags a publisher ...

The Skyros Writers' Lab in Skyros island, Greece, offers an escape in which to enjoy the joys and struggles of the writing process in a beautiful location with first-class tutoring, delicious food and great company. We are always delighted when we hear news from our holidays participants, especially success stories. And this week we are pleased to introduce the achievements of soon-to-be-published author Paula Iley (pen name Paula Coston).

Paula at The Writers' Lab
Three years ago Paula Iley thought she knew what she was doing. She went to Skyros island for a two-week writing holiday with a novel in progress for the teenage market under her arm. But day after day of sunshine, sea, good company and stimulating workshops changed all that. They workshops were facilitated by Jane Bidder, who also writes as Sophie King and Janey Fraser, and whose latest novel, a crime thriller, Guilty, is coming out under her own name. Not only during the sessions but in between, Paula and Jane shared parts of Paula’s life story that Jane found fascinating. Jane advised her strongly to think again about where her real tale lay.

Encouraged by Jane’s interest and her firm belief that she had talent, Paula sketched out a synopsis and wrote the tentative first few pages of something else.

If you can get them to me before we leave and if I like them,’ Jane suggested, ‘I’ll discuss your ideas with my agent and get advice for you when we get back to the UK.
Jane Bidder with Paula (far right) in Skyros
Jane loved what Paula came up with; and although her agent was too busy to help Paula at the time, Paula persisted in following Jane’s steer.

Paula has a full-time job; but fast forward three years of evening and weekend writing, research, re-writing and more, and the novel is done. And after twenty-three attempts, she has found a publisher for the result. Called On the Far Side, There’s a Boy, Paula’s novel – to be published in late April-early May by John Hunt Publishing – is a tale of a woman who discovers she will possibly always remain childless, unless she rediscovers a boy she once wrote to long ago in the exotic landscape of Sri Lanka. She goes to find him, but, as it transpires, it’s not all about the boy….

The Book Cover
Already acclaimed by Jamila Gavin (Whitbread-award-winning author of Coram Boy, made into a show for London and Broadway) as ‘an absorbing tale… written in a wonderful new, contemporary voice’ and Katie Fforde, women’s novelist, as ‘a well-written and intriguing read’, the book can be described, Paula says, as ‘Philhomena meets Life of Pi meets 84 Charing Cross Road’.

We'd like to say a massive congratulations to Paula for her achievements. If you'd like to know more about them, Paula blogs under her pen name Paula Coston on the themes of the book at Or if you are interested in hearing more about her writing journey, do contact her at and she can send you her e-letter.

If you are a budding or closet author who would like advice, support and encouragement from an experienced author, then the Skyros Writers' Lab holidays could be ideal for you. Follow your dreams. Find out more, including dates and prices for this summer's writing holidays in Greece, at the Skyros website:

You can also view the online Skyros brochure:, or send us an email to We'd be delighted to talk you through the details.

Happy writing!

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