AUTHOR Paul Westmoreland is living proof that perseverance pays off.

He has spent his whole life writing novels and short stories in his spare time from his full time job as a teacher, which included a 23-year spell as Head of English at Carlisle’s Austin Friars School before retiring 10 years ago.

Rejection letters from publishers piled up over the years, but now, following his 70th birthday last week, Paul is turning his thoughts to a third novel after seeing two published in the last three years.

Paul – who saw his second novel, Christmas Night, published at the end of last year – has had a passion for literature since childhood, when he began writing stories.

“I did have a desire when I was younger to be a published writer, but it has taken me a lifetime to do that!” he said.

His break arrived by chance several years ago, admits Paul, who lives in Penrith with wife Linda.

“I had always written to other publishers. I have certainly spent a lifetime in collecting rejection slips,” said Paul.

“I had never heard of Austin Macauley. I bought a music magazine one day and there was an advert for them in there. They asked me to send a few chapters, then they asked me to send the rest. I had waited for that letter all my life, I am enormously grateful to them.”

That first novel was Raineland, which Paul originally wrote in the 1980s. Set in an old country house, it is a story of hiding places, secrets, romantic love and second chances.

“Raineland I began in the early 1980s. When that was rejected I thought ‘I am going to have to improve it’’. One of my problems is if two or three people reject a novel I start on something else,” said Paul.

“I never lost heart thought I must admit there were moments were I thought ‘where am I going with this?’”

Over the years he has written seven or eight full novels, and a number of short stories. The second one which was published at the end of last year – Christmas Night – shares some themes with his first. It is a story about ‘personal history, the burdens we carry in life and the road we must travel’.

Paul says of his latest book: “I dedicated this novel to all those who encouraged me and kept me going. I don’t expect to make a fortune out of writing, although if I did that would be most welcome!”

He first finished Christmas Night at the end of 1998, revising it in the summer of 1999, and then revised it again in the summer of 2003. “I used to be a teacher, so I did most of my prolonged writing during the school holidays,” he said.

It begins with James Rayburn, Rector of Saint Luke’s, who faces various challenges as Christmas approaches. These include a sense of his own weakening faith, unhappy memories and what to say in his Christmas sermon. But Rayburn is to be distracted by the arrival at his house, one wintry night, of a sick, exhausted and seemingly destitute teenage girl called Corrie.

Corrie’s journey has led her to meetings with others, including Kate Raynor, the Dowling family and several of the rector’s friends and colleagues. That journey, and the road she takes, “with its demanding, relentless highway” are before her as the story comes to Christmas Night.

Paul – who writes all his stories in longhand before transferring them to computer – revealed that his favourite novelists are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Walter Scott.

“When I was writing Raineland there was an appeal of the big country house. Sherlock Holmes stories are often set in country houses where people are isolated, and if something goes bump in the night it is quite frightening,” he said.

Now that two of his novels have been published, he is hoping that Christmas Night will be successful enough to persuade his publishers to back a third book of his. He has written seven or eight novels over the years, and admits: “I have another three or four I would love to have published, because I think they are good enough.

“For all these years I have tried to write regularly. I didn’t like it if month after month passed and I had nothing to write.

“People ask where do you get your ideas from? First of all, ideas are very precious because without them you can’t do anything. If you have a good idea jot it down when you have it or it will go out of your mind.”

Paul , who is originally from Nottingham, added: “But what matters most to me is that the people who are close to me and who encouraged me should think what I did was good.

“There was a time when I wanted to make a living out of writing and it didn’t work, so I want my writing to have at least moderate success so the publisher will think they were right to back me and will publish my next piece as well!”

Paul’s books can be found in bookshops – and are available as ebooks – or ordered from the publisher –

He also has his own website –