1. What is your greatest regret?


I try very hard not to dwell on past mistakes, preferring to focus on the present and my resolve to do better. However, one thing I have always regretted is not taking time out after leaving full time education – where I was completely sheltered from the realities of life – to gain more experience and simply enjoy being young before rushing headlong into the very different demands of a career, relationships and the inevitable responsibilities that come with both.


Although I definitely do not regret the path I chose in life, had I taken that break and maybe travelled more, I would have hopefully been more mature – and better prepared – to deal with the unexpected challenges that were ultimately thrown at me, instead of having to stumble my way through it on a daily basis, without the luxury of time – or worldly experience – to do a better job.


Despite this, I managed to have a successful career and a very happy marriage… but I still regret not taking that gap year!


2. Please explain more what you do


I had a long career as a graphic designer, mainly working for a magazine publisher in London. I was primarily responsible for designing and producing the company’s weekly news magazine for the fresh produce industry, but I was also responsible for other publishing projects, including involvement with the PR and marketing department. In this capacity I designed exhibition stands and took care of clients’ marketing needs, such as brochures and other printed matter. From time to time I even wrote the odd press release.


These activities meant that I worked extremely closely with journalists – proof reading their copy and occasionally writing captions and headlines. I was already an avid reader and had enjoyed writing essays at school, so being exposed to this environment helped to hone my skills as a writer.

Sheila Rawlings – Biography 

Having always been a prolific reader, I soon began to expand my literary passion by writing short stories as part of my English Literature projects at school, a process that was actively encouraged by my teachers.

​During my secondary education – at Bexley Technical High School for Girls in Bexleyheath, Kent – I also discovered I had a gift for art and design and, after obtaining 6 O Levels and 2 A Levels, went on to complete a four-year course in Graphic Design at Medway College of Art in Chatham, Kent (now the University of Creative Arts). However, my interest in literature and writing remained.

​After graduating from college, I worked as a graphic designer for two separate mail order companies, designing and producing their catalogues, before finally joining a magazine publisher. As well as designing and producing their weekly trade magazine, I was also involved in the production of a variety of their other publications, working closely with editors and journalists.

​When the company decided to form a PR department, I was enlisted to run it. As well as the design and exhibition side, this involved producing press releases and marketing literature, giving me an opportunity to hone my writing skills.

​While exposed to this environment, I began to write my first novel. However, due to the long hours and pressures of publishing, I was forced to abandon what I had begun. It was only after recently retiring, and missing the focus and discipline of the schedules I was used to, that I finally managed to complete the novel – a thriller – which went on to be nominated as a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award 2014. I have since completed my second novel – book one of a trilogy – which is also a thriller.


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