Books by Glenda Young - click on the picture below to find out more

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Why I set my latest novel in Scarborough

Researching a new novel can be done anywhere in the world (or at least, it could, pre-covid).  Armed with a suitcase, laptop and my writing head firmly switched on, I set forth on a magical adventure to research my new book, The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon.  But it was no luxury destination that I was heading to, it wasn’t even overseas. It was just two hours from home, to Scarborough, the British seaside town I used to holiday in as a child and a town that remains special in my heart. 

Why Scarborough?  Well, our family had many happy holidays there when I was a child and it’s where I returned to be married, too. Just thinking about the place now, writing this makes me smile. Scarborough is old fashioned, unpretentious, northern, cold and often rainy seaside town. But on the days when the sun shines, oh, the days when the sun shines and the cliff tops along the coast twinkle and shine… well, it’s the most magical place in the world. 

And so I headed to Scarborough to carry out a week’s research for my novel The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon which is out now in paperback from Headline. It’s my fourth novel from Headline and there are another two to come. All of my books are stand-alone and can be read in any order. They all feature a very strong heroine at their core and are set at the end of the first world war in northern England. They’re dramatic books, fast-paced, exciting and influenced by my love of TV Soaps and my experience writing TV tie-in books for ITV about the soap opera Coronation Street. 

All of my books begin in Ryhope, a northeast coalmining village by the sea where I was born and bred. In The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon, I wanted to include a family who were outsiders to the village, who didn’t fit in with the ways of life there. I began to think about where the family would have come from and there was only place I knew I could write about with confidence and joy. Scarborough. So off I went, by public transport – buses and trains – trying to make the journey as similar as it would have been to the journey my heroine would make in my story set over 100 years ago.

Once in Scarborough, I eschewed the usual tourist trips of walks on the beach, crazy golf games on the seafront and eating salty fish and chips. Instead, I visited places I’d never been to before. I spent time researching in the library and local studies centre; I interviewed a historian and took a private tour behind the scenes at The Grand Hotel, once Europe’s largest hotel.  I soaked up the history of Scarborough as much as I could in the week I was there and it was a joy to see the place through different eyes.

However, I still needed something to tie Scarborough and Ryhope together in the book. I was fully prepared, as all novelists must be, to go ahead and make something up. And then it came to me, not once but twice, in the course of my research. Talk about a lightbulb moment! I discovered that in the 1800s the Earl of Scarborough used to holiday in Ryhope village in the very house in the village that I was fictionalising as my heroine’s home. Well, that just about knocked my socks off but there was more to come. In a maritime heritage centre in Scarborough, I found an advertisement from the early 1900s for a journey by steamship from London to Sunderland (where Ryhope is situated) and that ship, you’ve guessed it, stopped off in the summer months at Scarborough to pick up and let passengers disembark. 

Armed with this exciting information that linked the two places I was writing about, I knew I had to include a steam ship journey in the book too.  What happened next meant that I had to research steam ships, not something I ever thought I’d need to do but writing leads you along all kinds of weird and wonderful paths. The steam ship finds its way into The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon to form one of the most dramatic sections of the novel where something happens which changes the fortunes of everyone involved.  And that’s as much as I can say without giving away spoilers, I’m afraid! 

If that’s whetted your appetite for more, and I do hope it has, you can find The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon in all good bookshops, supermarkets, online and via my website at


Glenda Young
Author of historical novels with Headline
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Plotting, planning, writing and drinking tea


My name’s Glenda Young and I’ve loved writing ever since I was a child. I live in the northeast and my novels are set in the coalmining village of Ryhope where I was born and bred. You don’t need to know the village to enjoy the books, which are gritty and dramatic and have a feisty, young heroine at their core. All of my books are stand alone books and you can read them in any order. 

I’m a life-long fan of the soap opera Coronation Street run two Coronation Street fan sites – online since 1995 and the Coronation Street Blog which was launched in 2007.

I’ve written six novels to date published with Headline. The first four are now available and these are Belle of the Back Streets, The Tuppenny Child, Pearl of Pit Lane and The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon

Still to come are The Paper Mill Girl, The Miner's Lass and two more novels which have their titles to be confirmed. The novels are gritty sagas, inspired by my love of soap opera, really dramatic with lots of action and some great women characters!

I’ve also built an impressive reputation as an award-winning short story writer.  Plus, I have an unusual claim to fame! I’m the creator of the first ever weekly soap opera Riverside to appear in The People’s Friend, the longest running women’s magazine in the world. My short fiction has appeared in magazines including Take a Break, My Weekly and The People’s Friend. In 2019 I was a finalist in the Clement & Le Frenais Comedy Award.

As a life-long fan of the soap opera Coronation Street I’ve written TV Tie-In books about the show including Coronation Street: The official colouring book, Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street, A Perfect Duet. The Diary of Roy and Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, and have written major updates to Coronation Street: The Novel and Coronation Street: The Complete Saga.

I write in the mornings when I can concentrate better. I stop for coffee and have a break, do some thinking and then return to writing. I try to write 2,000 words per day. I find I’m much more able and creative in the mornings than in the afternoon. I live close to a lovely beach so I walk on the beach in the afternoons or go for a bike ride. This helps clear my head after writing all morning.

I always plan my novels loosely as I think all writers know that once you start writing your work takes on a life of its own and you should go with the flow to a certain extent. I liken my plotting and planning to building a frame on which to weave my words. It’s always flexible to change as I go but I always have a structure in place so I know what I’m doing and where I’m going, even if sometimes I go off on a side road for a little while.

When I'm planning out my novels I take sheets of A4 paper, one for each chapter and lay them out on the floor. Then I take my plot points and spread them out on post-it notes across the book, moving them around until I’m happy. Then I type up chapter plans, just a couple of paragraphs for each chapter so I know what I’m doing within each one. Then once I start writing, characters appear I never planned for, incidents happen I never envisaged and the book takes on a life of its own. It’s quite scary how it happens and I don’t truly understand it. Perhaps that’s the secret?
I do find it hard switching off once I start writing. When I’m writing a novel it’s all encompassing, my entire concentration goes into my work for the duration I’m writing it. I’m living in that world and I love it, it’s all I can think about as I immerse myself into the story.
Everything! From getting that initial spark of an idea to seeing my books on the shelves of the bookshops and getting amazing reviews online and in the press and on radio, etc. There’s nothing I don’t like.

And if I could offer any advice for other writers it would be to never, ever give up. Never.

Glenda Young
Author of historical novels with Headline
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor

Friday, October 23, 2020

What does a writer really do all day?


My day begins with tea made in the pot and warmed by a tea-cosy. I try to schedule my days in advance into writing and non-writing so that I know, for instance, on a writing day I won’t even look at email or social media or do anything other than crack on with my work in progress.  This may make me sound as if I am incredibly disciplined. But in truth, as anyone who works from home will know, the lure of the hour-long coffee break, daytime TV and the call of the biscuit tin are often difficult to ignore. In order to get any writing done at all, I have to be very focussed. Hold on a moment, would you, while I go and pop the kettle on?

On writing days I aim for 2,000 words and no matter if I’m in the thick of it or not, once I reach those 2,000 words, I force myself to stop. This leaves me itching to get started again the next day, rather than being stuck as to how to start. It might sound odd, but it works for me!

And if it’s a non-writing day, then it’s admin – emails, social media, appointments, arranging talks and events. As a debut novelist, giving talks is very new to me. It’s exciting but more than a little scary as I’m really quite shy and have to force myself out into the world to stand in front of people and talk. Fortunately, all talks so far have gone down well, and (I hope!) people are laughing at my anecdotes rather than laughing at me.

Research is also a key and ongoing part of writing a novel and it’s one I enjoy tremendously (although, yes, just like the hour-long coffee breaks mentioned above, I know it can work as displacement activity from the real task in hand of writing!). My novels are set in the northeast village of Ryhope, where I grew up. It prospered as a coalmining village and there is still a very strong sense of community there. My family still live there and I visit Ryhope often. The Ryhope Heritage Society have been extremely generous with their time and resources in helping me research for my work.

On a Wednesday afternoon all writing of my novels and admin come to a halt. Wednesday afternoons are sacrosanct. This is when I write my weekly soap opera Riverside for The People’s Friend magazine. I’m honoured to be writing the first ever soap opera in the history of the longest running women’s magazine in the world.  I love Wednesday afternoons and writing Riverside. It’s a fun, sunny break bringing life to a community I’ve created.

And whether it’s a writing day or not, one thing I like to do as long as the weather allows, is take a bike ride outside in fresh air. I’m very lucky to live on the coast and we have cycle paths stretching for miles in each direction. As a writer sitting at a desk all day, getting outside to cycle is a real luxury and one I enjoy a lot. It’s also important for me to get out and talk to people and so I try to arrange meet-ups with other local writers. Mondays are my “day off” when I’ll go shopping in town or treat myself to the afternoon at the cinema (or at least I used to, pre-covid)  – phone off, cup of tea in hand, cocooned in the dark and utterly, totally switched off.


Glenda Young
Author of historical novels with Headline
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Super Saga! The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon in My Weekly magazine

Really chuffed to see my latest novel The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon featured as a Super Saga in the My Weekly Special magazine, which is in the shops today.

Glenda Young
Author of historical novels with Headline
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor

Why romantic sagas are a feminist issue

The Girl with the Scarlet Ribbon is my fourth novel set in the northeast coalmining village of Ryhope, in 1919. Like all of my novels, it has a strong young woman, a really fantastic heroine, at its core.

At a book signing in Waterstones last year before Covid knocked book signings on the head, a woman came up to me to ask about my books. I was about to start telling her about the kick-ass feminists I write about but before I could get a word out, she said: "I don't like soppy books."

I dug my heels into the floor, straightened my shoulders and smiled through gritted teeth. 

"I can assure you," I told her, "my books are anything but soppy."

When I'm writing, I do all I can to get my readers behind my heroine from the very first page, to root for them all the way through the book and rejoice in their triumphs, when they finally come. That doesn't mean that I don't put my heroines through the wringer. I do. I chuck everything and the kitchen sink at them. My god, do I make them suffer, but I know that they can cope because they're pit village lasses, and they're made of stern stuff.

For instance, in my second novel The Tuppenny Child the heroine, Sadie, arrives in Ryhope with no money, no friends, no family. She is there to find her baby who has been stolen from her.  She becomes the first woman in the village to wear trousers, to ride a bike, to set up her own business – and all the while she’s searching for her stolen child. Not just that, but she brings down one of the most powerful men in the village while she’s on! It’s a rollercoaster of a ride that includes the fantastic traditional Irish custom of Nollaig na mBan – the Women’s Christmas –  done in heartwarming, pit village style.

If the strong, determined, fearless women that I write about aren't feminists, then I'm not sure what is.   
I hope you enjoy reading about every one of them. 

Glenda Young
Author of historical novels with Headline
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

5 things I want my readers to know about me – and 5 things I don’t!

Five things I’d like my reader to know about me

I love writing. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking and planning about what I’m going to write next. I’ve loved writing since I was a little girl when I’d make up stories and plays, poems and sketches. But I never knew what to do with them and so they ended up stuck at the back of my knicker drawer.

I have a big knicker drawer.

I’m often inspired to write by pictures I see, especially historic ones where those being photographed are suspicious of the camera and wary of the person wielding the camera. I also love listening to conversations on the bus.

I have to write in silence. Pure, utter silence. No radio, nothing. It has to be just me and the tapping of my keyboard while I concentrate fully.

The kettle is always on and tea fuels my writing day.

And five things I’d like to keep secret

Being a writer means sitting around a lot at your keyboard so you need to be comfortable. Therefore, you probably won’t want to know about the tracksuit bottoms I wear with fluffy pink slippers when I sit down to write. Ah, the glamour of it all.

When I write an angry scene I thump at my keyboard. When I write a touching scene, I often cry. Hmm… wonder if I should write erotic fiction some time?

I clean my writing desk thoroughly after each book is complete. I clear my walls of all pictures, maps and plans. Before I start researching the next book, I give my writing room a good going-over. This often takes some time.

I don’t really have a writing room. It’s just our spare room. No-one else is allowed in and if they wander in while I’m writing they’re greeted by very unfriendly stare.

I still have poems I wrote when I was six, they’re in my knicker drawer.

Glenda Young
Author of historical novels with Headline
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

How childhood love of writing lead to my author career

My name's Glenda Young and  I’ve always loved writing, ever since I was a child.

However, it’s only been in the last five years that I’ve been writing fiction seriously. I started by sending a short story to The People’s Friend magazine and was overjoyed – and shocked – when they took it. I kept submitting to them and they loved my stories so much that they asked me to write their first ever weekly soap opera, Riverside, which is an absolute joy to write. 

I started submitting stories to other women’s magazines too and then decided to start writing a novel. It was a huge leap from short story to novel writing, difficult at times, but I’m so pleased I persevered. I found an agent who took me on and she sold my debut novel Belle of the Back Streets on a three-book deal with Headline. 

Belle of the Back Streets is set at the end of WW1 which was a period of much change for women, especially, and for society in general. I wanted Meg, my heroine of the book, to have an unusual job for a woman and sure enough, she takes on her dad’s rag and bone round. Let’s just say – she doesn’t get an easy ride but as with all good sagas, she triumphs in the end.

There were three publishers fighting over my debut, it’s been unbelievable. I still pinch myself.  I've since been given a second three-book deal with Headline and a third deal with them to write a further two books.   

All of my books are set in the north-east coastal ex-coal mining village of Ryhope, where I grew up, and all are set at the end of WW1.  There are some characters who appear in all three novels, but they are standalone books.

Before my fiction writing, I contributed to two TV tie-in books for ITV – the Coronation Street Saga and the Coronation Street Novel. When the actress Anne Kirkbride passed away (she played Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street for 42 years), ITV asked me to write the official tribute book, Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street. It was a real honour and a privilege to be asked to write that book and I was also tasked with choosing all of the images. I have also written the text for Coronation Street’s first colouring book for ITV and I was asked to pick all of the images. 

In addition, I’ve written three unofficial Coronation Street fan books, one for a small publisher and two I self-published. These books are A Perfect Duet: The Diary of Roy and Hayley Cropper; Norman Bates with a Briefcase: The Richard Hillman Story and The Little Book of Carla Connor: A Decade in the Life of a Soap Queen.

I’ve been a fan of Coronation Street since before I can remember. It was a show I used to watch with my mam and grandma while I was growing up and it has always been a part of my life. My husband is also a huge fan of the show and he proposed to me while we were on a private visit to the set many years ago. He got down on bended knee and I had no idea what he was doing. I looked at him and thought: ‘What’s he doing down there? He’s going to get his jeans mucky!”

On running the successful Coronation Street blog – you have to have the passion for your subject in order to keep it going. Actually, I’ll rephrase that sentence. You must have the passion for it.  There’s a team of us now who contribute to the blog and we meet at least once a year, we’ve become friends.

Soap opera has always been a part of my life since I was little while saga writing is still new to me. But I think there’s a great deal of crossover between them both – strong women, cliff-hanger storylines, obstacles to be overcome, intrigue and scandal around every corner, a man who isn’t all that he seems, a woman who is no better than she ought – the list is endless. The important thing is the story, no matter which way you tell it – soap or saga – it needs these strong characters, these believable storylines.
My favourite authors have always been Margaret Atwood, Maeve Binchy, Erin Pizzey, Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton (as a child) and I adore the Tales of the City books by Armistead Maupin. I also enjoy reading TC Boyle, William Gibson and Douglas Kennedy. When I do get a chance to read (when I’m not writing) I love reading autobiographies of women, especially women involved in music and TV. I have a book of Victoria Wood sketches that I love reading and I go back to it often whenever I need cheering up. Her use of every single word is superb.

One tip for writing a successful saga? A rollercoaster of drama with some really (really) great women!

Glenda Young
Author of historical novels with Headline
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor

Monday, October 19, 2020

How soap operas influence my novels

I’ve been a fan of Coronation Street since before I can remember. It was the show I used to watch with my mum and grandma, all three of us huddled on the sofa. My grandma and I used to love Elsie Tanner, the wicked woman of Weatherfield, no better than she ought to be. She had a string of men in her past and I loved the naughtiness of Elsie, the cheek of her.

I went on to write TV tie-in books about Coronation Street, commissioned by ITV. I also contributed to the official ITV Corrie website, to their official magazine and to various one-off ITV publications about the show. I have also written unofficial fan books. 

In addition, I set up and now edit the Coronation Street Blog, a fan site written by and for fans. It’s been online since 2007 and remains unique, a real labour of love. And I’ve been writing online Corrie weekly updates since 1995. So being a fan of the show and writing about it is in my blood. It comes naturally to me. You could say I’m steeped in soap opera. I know their twists and turns, their cliff-hangers and signposts. Most of all, I know their women.   

It’s a privilege and pleasure to write the TV tie-in books for ITV. But I was acutely aware that writing these books meant that I was re-telling someone else’s story. I hadn’t created the wonderful characters that I was writing about. Someone else had invented Hilda Ogden, Ena Sharples, Deirdre Barlow and  other women who've become cultural icons.  After writing the official tribute book to the character of Deirdre Barlow after actress Anne Kirkbride sadly passed away, I knew I had it in me to write a book of length. And I knew then, felt it surely, that I wanted to create my own characters and write my own story. And so, in 2015, I began writing fiction. I found a home for my stories with the women’s magazine market where the central character was female and the story revolved around her family, friends or home.

Since then I have had short stories published in many of the major women’s magazines including Take a Break’s Fiction Feast and My Weekly. The People’s Friend magazine enjoyed my stories so much that they commissioned me to write the magazine’s first ever weekly soap opera, Riverside. Now, not only do I write about the world’s longest running TV soap Coronation Street, I also write my own weekly soap for the world’s longest running women’s magazine – The People’s Friend!  

Away from women’s magazines, I also write darker, more edgy short stories. These I often submit to competitions where I’ve had success in winning, being placed or published in anthologies.

And now, with my novels, it is the women who continue to shine. I write gritty and determined young heroines who take on everything that life can throw at them – and more – and still come out smiling at the other end. Along the way they meet feckless fellas, evil villains, women that will help or hinder them as they make their way through. It is always the women I am drawn to writing most – the more gritty the better. I think my favourite type of women to write is the female villain, she’s everything I’m not – evil and mean and I really have fun with this type. 

But while I take my inspiration from TV soaps and drama in terms of dynamic story arcs and fast pace I absolutely do not attempt to write my own Corrie or EastEnders for the page. My novels are my own, the stories and characters coming from nowhere other than my own imagination. However, the influence of soaps on the novels cannot be denied especially in terms of place, pace and tone.  There is a great deal of crossover between soap and saga and the more dramatic either of these can be, the better.

You need a good sense of place in saga – and the same goes for soap. Whether it’s a street or a square – or in the case of my novels, a village – you need a place for characters to operate in. You need a good sense of time – in the case of my novels it’s circa 1919. 

Research is key and Google is not your friend. You need to get out and explore – museums, archives, records offices. Find old maps, deeds, plans, photographs. More importantly of all – speak to people. You’ll be surprised where this can lead, opening up avenues for subplots in your novel that you’d not explored before. I’ve been up inside a bell tower in a church as part of my research, an experience I’ll never forget.

And possibly the most important link of all between saga and soap is the cliff hanger device. I use this a lot because I enjoy it and it’s fun. I try my best to leave the reader in a state of suspense at the end of each chapter, eager to read on, begging, desperate for more.


Glenda Young
Author of historical novels with Headline
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor

Saturday, October 17, 2020

My writing week in the media spotlight

With the paperback release of my fourth novel THE GIRL WITH THE SCARLET RIBBON earlier this month, I've been rather busy media-wise.  

Pushing myself forward for promotion in this way is never easy. It's hard to make a song and dance about myself when I'm not a song and dance kind of girl. And so I'm enormously proud of myself for the following this week:

The book shot into the Bookseller's Heatseekers Chart at No. 20. More on that here.

I had a short story included in My Weekly magazine where there was also a competition to win 10 copies of the novel.

And there was a lovely little mention of the novel in this week's People's Friend magazine, at the end of this week's episode of my weekly soap opera Riverside.

Last week all of this happened:

Isn't Yorkshire wonderful? Featured in The Scarborough News and The Whitby Gazette and Yorkshire Evening Post

Featured in Books by Women chatting about my choice of locations in the book

Reviewed in Peterborough Telegraph (this one came via my publisher, Headline)

The novel went on a blog tour and you can read all the reviews here. (Blog tour organised by my publisher, Headline).

Plus, I had two short stories published. A contemplative, uplifting autumn story in The People's Friend magazine and a naughty, fun one in Take a Break's Fiction Feast.

And the week before last all of this happened:

Here I am on YouTube chatting about the new book and you can watch it here.

I've been on Radio Newcastle, Radio York daytime and again in the evening with Bek by the Sea. 

I've been talking about how I write in Frost magazine and was featured by Sunderland University

Plus,  there was a competition to win signed books in The Sunderland Echo.

I was even called Sunderland's best selling local author by Waterstone's. 



Glenda Young
Author of historical novels with Headline
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor

Coronation Street 60th anniversary - making all my dreams come true

I'm very proud to be invited by ITV Coronation Street to join in their "60 for 60" celebrations in the show's run up to its 60th anniversary on December 9th.

On each of the 60 days before the 60th anniversary, Corrie have invited celebrities, charities, business partners and fans like myself to record a 30 second video to say hello and wish the show happy anniversary. 

And today's my day, Saturday 17 October 2020. 

You might be wondering what my involvement is with Coronation Street.

I'm editor of two Coronation Street fan sites, the Coronation Street Blog and Plus, I've written TV tie-in books about the show which led to my writing confidence level shooting through the roof.

I then, finally at the grand old age of er, 21 plus VAT, moved into writing fiction where I've built an impressive reputation as an award-winning short story writer.  Plus, I was one of just six finalists in the coveted Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais Comedy Award 2019.  I now have my own novels in the shops and an eight book deal with Headline!  

Since 2016, I have been writing my own weekly soap opera, Riverside, for The People's Friend magazine which is the longest running women's magazine in the world. So not only do I write about Corrie which is the longest running soap opera in the world, I also write for the longest running women's magazine in the world too!

So, thank you Coronation Street, for making all my dreams come true.

I'm on ITV's social media today at 
TwitterFacebookInstagram and if you're reading this after October 17 2020, then you can find my video on the special "60 for 60" page at ITV Coronation Street website.
You can watch the short video below... and do stay for the end when a surprise visitor pops in.


Glenda Young
Author of historical novels with Headline
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...