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Ceril Campbell’s writing journey to SECRETS IN THE DARK

I am sure we all experienced some level of anxiety in our personal lockdowns of the last year, whilst the fear of the unknown and the once solid ground under our feet turned into quicksand and an ever-changing new-normal. Brain fog, especially, was an issue for me, together with a limited capacity for concentration in between regular and compulsive fifteen-minute fridge visits to consider what I could find to snack on that I hadn’t already mindlessly eaten.

I forced myself to think positively, banishing any negativity in my first waking moments of the day.  As soon as we were allowed, I started a daily morning walk, dodging armies of sweaty, heavily puffing joggers who now filled the local streets. However, on my Thames-side walk I found myself surrounded by nature. I appreciated every single beautiful and unusually abundant flower bud and blossom that bloomed larger and more extravagantly than ever before, with vibrant colours contrasting against the cloudless clear blue skies devoid of aircraft. With no traffic or plane noise, birdsong seemed more noticeable and maybe more melodious and I felt grateful to be alive. This somehow more intense and visually beautiful new version of nature bought joy and calm into my lockdown prison that had, until then, felt oppressive, dark and lacking in direction.

With the onset of this pandemic, all my motivational speaking work within schools and organisations on first impressions, body language, positive body image, self-confidence and the effects of social media on mental health had ceased; as had my regular radio and TV work as a fashion and style expert and commentator. I considered the options of what I could now do to fill my days in lieu of eating, binge-watching Netflix, planting tomatoes, beans, spinach and herbs in my tiny South West London patio garden, and posting positive social media messages and images of my banana bread baking failures. Zoom exercise classes had all been attempted and swiftly rejected. I needed new motivation for focus.

Sometimes life has unexpected twists and turns and my decision to re-visit, re-edit and finish writing SECRETS IN THE DARK, a story I had first begun in 2019, became my personal lockdown challenge – my sole reason to get out of bed each day. This fictional novel was based very loosely on my observations of life on the Kings Road Chelsea in the 1970s and on my career of over thirty years as a celebrity stylist in glamorous locations around the world.

As lockdown continued, I focused, concentrated, edited and re-edited for increasing stretches of time until the book was finally finished. Now that I have seen the wonderful new cover design and book that Headline Accent worked so hard and incredibly quickly to create from my initially self-published novel, I became even prouder of what I had managed to achieve during lockdown.
I am now currently hard at work writing my second novel and am so excited to see what the future holds for my new career as an author. To have been so flatteringly called ‘the new Jackie Collins’ in some of my book reviews, has given me an impossible task of walking in her very high and extremely sexy stiletto footsteps. I would be absolutely honoured.

Instagram: @cerilcampbell


SECRETS IN THE DARK is out now in paperback.