A former Chesterfield College student launches her first published novel after landing a three-book deal
Sally-Anne Martyn has set her dark thriller in a former asylum-turned-health and beauty clinic run by a mysterious doctor. When a former asylum patient is paid by a promoter to return to the building, she finds that it’s not as bad as when she left, it’s much, much worse!
Ahead of the release of her book titled The Clinic on October 27, Sally-Anne gave a glimpse of her inspiration. She said: “In 1994 I worked as a nurse’s aide at Hill End Hospital in St Albans, which was one of the last Victorian asylums in England. It was a baptism of fire and I been thrown deep inside myself, placed in very scary situations with little support or training, the place was falling apart inside and out. is the building itself, many rooms were closed at the time and walking alone along these long corridors was unnerving, just echoes of screams and screams that came through the almost deserted rooms I think a building like this that has seen so much pain keeps him in the walls, he just never felt right.
As the hospital closed in 1995, the memory of the strange building never faded for Sally-Anne. She said: “It was an experience I always wanted to write about, so it became the perfect setting for my first novel when the time came.”
She started writing the novel in 2020 and sent it to various publishers. Sally-Anne said: “When it was first published, major publishers felt the issue of weight and diet was too sensitive, which surprised and disappointed me in equal measure. I am one of the millions of women who struggle with weight and yo-yo dieting and I think this is something we need to address.We are bombarded with representations of what the female body should look like leaving lots of food issues for years. I thought it was high time a novel addressed this issue, As with most things, it all worked out for the best, because I landed with Joffe Books …Joffe is incredibly forward-thinking and innovative, unafraid to tell stories they know readers want to read.
“I have a three book deal with Joffe Books so I am currently finishing the second book to be published by them, this time in Derbyshire, with witchcraft and mother/daughter relationships as the theme. It was inspired by my time working at a nursing home in Darley Dale and some of the brilliant residents I was lucky enough to meet during my time there. Everything I write about always seems to go back to my childhood, those bright working class women I grew up with and the incredible Derbyshire landscape.
Sally-Anne was born in Darley Dale 49 years ago, grew up in Hathersage and returned to Darley Dale as a teenager. She said: “I studied at Hope Valley College, then did performing arts at Chesterfield College of Technology and Arts, before spending a year in America as an au pair. , working in a movie props department on Gladiator and various care roles in nursing homes and hospitals.”
This is the second time Sally-Anne has appeared in the Derbyshire Times, having been cast in the Friday’s Child column in 1981. She said: “I was about eight or nine and a pupil at school St Michael’s C of E in Hathersage I had been flower girl to Hathersage Carnival Queen Julie Wood (née Barber) and was told she had recommended me for ‘Friday’s Child’ I can still remember very good from the interview, i couldn’t stop talking… i talked about my train, horror movies and a recent operation i was always proud of this derbyshire appearance Times, because no matter where I’ve lived, everything I do seems to hark back to that happy childhood in Derbyshire.
Seven-year-old Sally-Anne won a primary school prize after plagiarizing a poem a friend had read to her on vacation. Sally-Anne, whose maiden name was Atkinson, said: “It was read in church to my great mortification. I’m surprised lightning didn’t strike the steeple! After that I kept my own ideas and over the years I’ve written parts that have appeared in the Daily Mail, Vegan Food & Living Magazine, Scriptwriter Magazine and various online publications. won a place in an ITV writing course with Bill Lyons from Emmerdale.
“I didn’t go to college so I was convinced I couldn’t write a novel, it was for graduates. Eventually I gave it a try, took a few classes and found a mentor. I wrote my first book and sent it in 2019 and got agents interested. As soon as I sent this one I started my second book which was quickly picked up by my agent, Katie Fulford, which was later picked up by Joffe Books and will be my first published novel.
“I would love to continue writing for Joffe and putting out a book a year, and becoming known for my dark female characters. Obviously it would be great if a book got picked up on TV, I think the setting and characters of The clinic would make great TV!”
Sally-Anne has a 16-year-old son, Gabriel, and has lived with her family in Cheshire for eight years. She has an array of animals including three dogs, five pet pigs and three snails.