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Success Story

Sean Doyle came to the writing course in June 2004.  Like many people he had an idea, a story he wanted to tell, and he thought that the course would be just the thing to get his characters and story developed in order to write and finish the book.
As he said at the end of the course...

"I feel I have come away with the knowledge of how to structure the story, create the storyline and actually write it.
What's more I now also have the belief that I can go and write it - so no more excuses.

The course was everything that I hoped it would be"

Sean Doyle's When Fate Comes Calling is proof that with determination and faith, the dream of writing a book and having it published can comes true.  Here is Sean's story in his own words.

Sean's Story
in his own words...

It was late 2000 and I was sitting at my desk, in the ninth floor office in Manama, looking out at the clear blue sea below, a matching cloudless sky above. It should have been idyllic, but my time in Bahrain was coming to an end, and I had nothing to do. I was stuck in a deserted office, waiting for a phone that was never going to ring – and I still had three months to go!

I was quietly going crazy with boredom, the daily quick crossword completed, and the computer trumped at Hearts, when from nowhere, I got this strange and irrational desire to write. During my time in the Middle East, I had been fortunate to travel to many countries, meeting different cultures, visiting fascinating cities, but Beirut was the city I fell in love with, and it was in Beirut that my imagination was going to be allowed to run wild.

I remembered a brief holiday romance from my student days, and tried to imagine what it would be like for a couple to meet up years later, much older, much wiser, with unanswered questions hanging precariously over their accidental reunion. How would they have changed? How would they react to each other? Where would it lead to? Lots of questions, but the challenge was to wrap a story around the concept, and link together the two separate episodes.

I have to confess, at that stage I had no idea of where I was going, no idea how the story would develop, let alone end – I just knew that I had to put the ideas buzzing around my brain down on paper.

Over the next few months I put a few chapters together, constantly rewriting parts, going off at different tangents, excited by what I was doing, but with little idea of what I was actually trying to achieve.

In the spring of 2001, we left Bahrain, came back to the UK, and more importantly came back to the real world, a world of full time jobs, commuting, long hours and no time to write. On my daily walks across Waterloo bridge, I would still think about plots, different storylines (I hadn’t got anywhere near endings at that stage!), but only on holidays or occasionally at weekends, would I actually get the chance to write.

After a couple of years of going nowhere, the story hardly progressing, I was beginning to think I should give up on the dream, but I’m not in the habit of giving up, and with my then nine year old daughter nagging away at me to carry on, I realised I needed some help.

I searched online, and when I discovered a weeks’ writing course in France, it sounded just what I was looking for. The thought of spending a week learning how to put my novel together, not to mention the food and wine, was too good an opportunity not to take. It was now or never.

The week was fantastic, I learnt so much, I knew by the time I returned that I could, if I wanted, write a novel, not one that would get published, but one that I could say I had written – I had finished. Apart from how to structure a story line, I remember three key lessons that were drummed into us, and hopefully that I have kept to: Tell the story through the characters’ speech, ‘show don’t tell’; each chapter should take the story forward, and most importantly ‘murder yer darlings!’…the most painful part, removing your favourite lines, because they probably won’t be anybody else’s!

The first thing I did when I got back to the UK was try to persuade my wife to take a romantic break…in Lebanon. She took some persuading, but if I was going to write the story, I had to go back to Beirut and do some proper research. It was October 2004 when we boarded Middle Eastern Airways and I remember the excitement I felt, I knew I had got over the doubt, I was going to write the book, I was going to finish it.
Lebanon was fantastic, for four days I just absorbed everything, I took in the smells, the sounds, the history, the politics, but most of all the people. To visit a country that is still recovering from two decades of civil war is inspiring, it makes one believe in the goodness of mankind, rather than the daily diet of terror and abuse that is served up by our media.

My wife found Beirut too intense, too claustrophobic, it does take getting used to, but I was buzzing and she, for my sake, went along with everything I planned. Our trip to the Bekaa was the highlight, to see the temples of Baalbek, to de dwarfed by pillars that were built before Christ visited this earth was incredible – to discover we were in Hezbollah country was less comforting, but nonetheless incredibly exciting.

When I came back, I felt inspired to write, every weekend, sometimes late at night in the week, and I started to plan the next summer holiday, I had one more place to visit, the last chapter of the book needed a trip to Paris. So after persuading the family that was what they wanted, the summer of 2005 was a trip to France, via a little island in the middle the Seine, that lurked in the shadow of Notre Dame, and my research was complete.

It took another two years to complete, to review, to edit, but eventually by the Summer of 2007, I had taken the manuscript as far as it could go. I sent a synopsis off to half a dozen agents – always polite rejections, but so standardised, it made you wonder if anyone had actually looked at it! In 2008, I decided to try the publishers directly and after a number of refusals, the first ray of light, a small publisher in Brighton, Book Guild Publishers, was interested in publishing my novel.

The rest is history, the published novel comes out Thursday June 25th 2009.

When Fate Comes Calling

Sean Doyle

I don’t know how long I stared, open-mouthed, astonishment no doubt etched across my face. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, who I was seeing, after so, so long. It was a lifetime away. Spain 1986, a summer of love, a summer that promised so much, yet in the end delivered nothing more than agony and anguish. I’d often wondered how she’d coped, what had happened to her, but here she was, as stunning as the image embedded in my memory.

On holiday in the Catalan resort of Rosas, carefree student Jack meets and falls in love with a beautiful French girl, the mysterious but enigmatic Abrielle. The swift intensity of their relationship surprises everyone – not least Jack himself. But darker forces are at play and the spectre
of terrorism overshadows their dwindling days together, before their youthful affair is brought to a sudden and devastating end.
Almost two decades later the couple meet again by chance while on business in Beirut. They are now very different people – Jack is a successful businessman with a troubled marriage, while Abrielle is a committed political journalist, entirely wedded – or so it seems – to her career. As they reacquaint themselves and reminisce about old times, Jack realises that old feelings are being awakened and sleeping fires rekindled. Is this their second chance, he wonders. But life is more complicated this time around and as their brief reunion comes towards its end, fate yet again threatens to intervene…


After qualifying from university in London with a degree in Economics, Sean Doyle worked as an investment manager in London for 12 years, before moving to Bahrain to set up a joint venture Company with a local financial services company. He spent two years travelling throughout the Middle East, and it was from these experiences, the seeds to his novel were sown. He and his family returned to the UK in 2001, when he joined a small London based Asset Manager, where he is now a Director. He now lives in Surrey with his wife and two children.

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© 2009 Peter May & Janice Hally