How Sunderland Author Glenda Young is Inspiring Creative Writers
Bestselling Sunderland-based author Glenda Young has joined forces with her former university to launch The Glenda Young Prize for Creative Writing
Glenda’s path to becoming a full-time writer came about in the second year of her degree when she needed a placement. At the time she was running a Coronation Street fan website, and she asked if anyone could help. ‘I studied as a mature student in my late 30s and learned a great deal from the younger students,’ Glenda says. ‘As part of the degree course I had to find my own work placement and that's when ITV got in touch and asked if I'd like to help out in the Coronation Street press office. It was a dream come true.’
Since then, Glenda has written eight historical sagas set in Ryhope, the first of which, Belle of the Back Streets, was published in 2018, and the most recent, The Sixpenny Orphan, was published in paperback this year. Now Glenda is a proud member of the Crime Writers' Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, and was one of just six finalists in the coveted Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais Comedy Award in 2019.
‘I’ve loved writing stories ever since I was a child,’ Glenda says. ‘I live in the North East where my saga novels are set, in the coalmining village of Ryhope, where I was born and bred. You don’t need to know Ryhope to enjoy the books, which have a feisty, young heroine at their core. The novels are gritty sagas, inspired by my love of soap opera, really dramatic with lots of action and some wonderful female characters! There’s a lot of warmth and humour too. All of my sagas are standalone and you can read them in any order.’
Glenda also has a unique 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,’ she says. ‘Riverside is now available as an audio drama. My short fiction has appeared in magazines including Take a Break, My Weekly, The People’s Friend, Best and newspapers including The Sunday Post, The Mirror and The Express. A life-long fan of the soap opera Coronation Street, I’ve been commissioned by ITV to write official 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, and I have written major updates to Coronation Street: The Novel and Coronation Street: The Complete Saga. I also run and own the internet's first and original Coronation Street fan website online since 1995.
‘I've always written, ever since I was a child, but have only started being professionally published by Headline since 2018,’ she says. ‘My short stories for women’s magazines were my way into the world of fiction, then The People’s Friend magazine asked me to write their first ever weekly soap opera, Riverside, in 2016. I still write it to this day and it’s now an audio drama starring ex-soap stars. I had no idea I’d become so successful and I feel as if I’m living my childhood dream – finally!’
Glenda has also written three cosy crime thrillers set in Scarborough, which were shortlisted at the Dead Good Readers Awards, alongside Val McDermid and Richard Osmond, at the 2022 Harrogate Crime Festival. ‘During lockdown when I couldn’t get out to research my historical novels I turned to crime,’ she says. ‘My novels are set in Scarborough, a place I adore, and it was a joy to write about Scarborough, which helped cheer me up and got me through lockdown.’
Using all the valued experience Glenda has earned, she’ll now be sharing her wisdom with budding writers thanks to The Glenda Young Prize for Creative Writing. ‘It’s available for anyone applying to Sunderland University for a course in Creative Writing,’ she says. ‘Applicants must be from Sunderland and the first in their family to go to university. As well as the financial incentive to apply, I hope to give advice and support to whoever is chosen for the award too. I'll give them as much, or as little, help as they would like. My hope is that the award will encourage someone from a working-class background like mine to apply for a university course and to succeed in whatever area of creative writing they feel passionate about.’
Glenda is currently writing a trilogy of historical novels for Headline. The books are inspired by Horner’s Toffee Factory which was in Chester-le-Street where they produced the Dainty Dinah brand of toffee. The first book, The Toffee Factory Girls, will be available in the summer of 2024.