France 2000: Two babies are born on the same day just two hours apart – but to very different lives. Isabella is a Princess and heir to the French throne, while Sophia is born into a life of poverty and abuse at the hands of her father. At the age of 18, Sophia runs away from home. That same night, Isabella is also fleeing from the burden of her royal life when she finds Sophia slumped at the palace gates. Amazed by how alike they look, Isabella proposes a daring plot – to exchange their lives for one week. ‘The Pretender’ is an emotionally intense and compelling story of friendship, love and the strange power of destiny.
I am happy to share a guest post, written by the author with you about achieving goals. I a beautiful and emotional story. Take a look at her book as well, please. Enjoy!
As a child, I remember being told that everyone was born with a talent, that there was one thing everyone excelled at. That this was their calling in life. So, when my Primary teacher asked to show my mum a story I’d written, commenting “Katie certainly knows how to tell a story” I was sure this was my calling in life.
However, after a tumultuous time at secondary school the odds were stacked against me. Sitting in the chair opposite my careers officer ready to discuss my options after I left school, I felt optimistic. After all, I knew exactly what I wanted to be…a journalist. Relaying this to the careers officer, I remember there being a slight pause until she replied “I think working in a shop would be more suitable for you”. She then proceeded to pass me leaflets on this as I sat in stunned silence.
An extended period of sickness that saw me admitted to hospital in the beginning of Year 10, had set me back but I was confident I could turn it around. However, as the exams approached, I realised that I needed support. I spoke to my teachers to ask for extra tuition but each time I was told I was fine and that I should carry on the way I was. They weren’t aware that my aunt had been recently diagnosed with terminal cancer with a prognosis of three months to live. Previously, when I had tried to seek support from my teachers for bullying which saw me unable to take the school bus I was called a liar. Only when they were told it would be escalated to the local education authority did they address the issue. So, I had little confidence in them understanding this situation and I wasn’t going to tell them and give them the opportunity to call me a liar once again.
I worked hard to try and prepare for my exams but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. The circumstances were too difficult and even in my best subjects I did badly in, not gaining enough to take up my college course as planned. Suddenly, a voice asked me how I’d done. Looking up, I saw it was one of the teachers who had called me a liar. She had never said a nice word to me, in all my years at school. I didn’t want to answer.
“Not very well, I didn’t get enough to go to college.” I replied.
A broad smile crept across her face as she replied smugly, “Oh dear, you’ll just have to come back to school next year, won’t you?”
In that moment, I vowed to myself that whatever I did, I would not go back to school.
Speaking to my mum, I was inconsolable, the tears I had tried hard to stop at school came streaming down my face.
“The best revenge is success, Katie. There’s more than one route to get to where you want to?” My mum gently soothed.
As her words sunk in, my tears stopped. Asking my aunt if I could borrow her phone, I called the college. For the next two days, I negotiated with a frankly perplexed tutor for a chance to try. Finally, the tutor agreed to a second interview to decide if I should be given a chance.
So, the day after my aunt’s funeral, I gave a presentation on the British media’s differing portrayals of Princess Diana from saint to sinner and everything in between. I was immediately accepted to start the course on a three-month basis, on the proviso I retake my GCSE English and that I have a formal review at the end of term to ascertain my suitability to continue.
By the end of term, I was doing so well that I didn’t need a review and completed my course as well as successfully retaking my GCSE English. By the time I left, I had been accepted to my first choice university to study Journalism. Despite 2500 people competing for 48 places I took up my course having gained more than the required grades I had needed to get in.
After successfully completing my degree, I sent a photo of my graduation to the teacher who had said I should go back to school.
As I prepare to release my debut novel, ‘The Pretender’, I feel a great sense of relief that I’m on my way to achieving the dream they always believed I couldn’t.
Thank you, Katie Ward and RachelsRandomResources.
About the author
Katie Ward always knew she wanted to write for a living. However, she was told by her careers advisor that “it might be more appropriate for you to work in a shop”. When Katie didn’t get the grades she needed to get into college, she negotiated a three month trial. After successfully completing the course she secured a place at her first choice university to study Journalism.
After realising she wanted to be an author, Katie moved to Dublin where she worked her way up from receptionist to Executive Assistant at Merrill Lynch. Katie continued to write in her spare time, submitting her short story into the “Do the Write Thing” competition being run by Irish TV show ‘Seoige and O’Shea’. This story was originally written when Katie was 14 after she was inspired by an article in her favourite teen magazine. Katie was the only non-Irish author selected to have her story published in an anthology of the same name which reached 19 in the Irish Best sellers List. Katie was also shortlisted for a competition judged by MAN Booker Prize winning author Roddy Doyle which was run by Metro Eireann newspaper.
Katie currently lives in Devon with her cat (aka ‘Her Royal Fluffiness’) where she sings in a community choir and has recently taken up Archery. Katie’s favourite author has been Roald Dahl since she was a child as she loves the dark edge he brings to his books. On the flip side though, Katie loves Disney, magic, unicorns and a good rom com film at the cinema with her friends.