Female heroines have captured the imagination of readers and authors for time immemorial. From Hermione Granger to Arya Stark, they can usually be found vanquishing evil and uncovering mystery.
Rarely do they speed into the mind's eye as a 75-year-old in a camper van, clutching a bottle of spirit and leaving a trail of broken hearts and distressed offspring in their wake. But this is exactly the kind of protagonist that Professional Writing graduate Judy Leigh had in mind for her first published novel, A Grand Old Time.
Her book hit the shelves at the beginning of May and is available at Waterstones, on Amazon and just about anywhere that stocks quality published works. It will also be sold internationally, in countries such as Canada, India, Sweden and Japan.
The misadventures of the character in question, Evie Gallagher, began during Judy's second term at Falmouth, whilst working on her dissertation. She explained: "Evie decides to leave her care home in Dublin and have an adventure, involving the purchase of a camper van and heading to the south of France.
"She is followed by her unhappy son Brendon, and his wife Maura, who are experiencing marital difficulties. Evie is unaware that they intend to bring her home, and she enjoys herself eating and drinking, singing in a bar, pretending to be a porn star and chatting up a septuagenarian hunk."
Judy aimed to create a story in which older women were trail blazers and role models, rather than characters included for what they couldn't do. Evie's older years are a source of strength, allowing her to cast her worries to the wind and enjoy herself. As Judy puts it: "I thought of my own mother, who would've done what Evie did, if she'd had the chance.
"It's a dream come true to be published. I've always wanted to write and, when the chance came, I couldn't turn it down. It's exciting and a privilege to write full-time and entertain others through my writing."
Judy feels that her time at Falmouth enabled her to hone her skills and gain an insight into how the field she desired to work in operates. She reflected: "I wanted a Masters course that would not only help me improve the craft of writing a novel, but also give me an in-depth understanding of the industry.
"I found the course at Falmouth to be a perfect fit. I learned to blog, to pitch, to improve journalistic skills and to work alongside professionals to improve my writing. I even had a masterclass with Matt Haig, which was a great opportunity."