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Julie Houston and the real life inspiration behind The Village Vicar

Julie Houston and the real life inspiration behind The Village Vicar

It is thanks to two lovely young women, both under thirty and both now on maternity leave with gorgeous new babies, that The Village Vicar went from being the germ of an idea to actually getting off the ground and out into the world, this Thursday January 19th.

The first was my local village vicar who sat down with me in the vicarage and took me through all things to do with not only training to be a vicar, but being female in a traditionally male role and what the job actually entails. I spent a most productive Saturday afternoon with her as she answered questions and tried her best to tell me all I needed to know in order to write a book where the main protagonist is a young, attractive female vicar.

Secondly was Olivia. I know Olivia won’t mind me giving her name, as she was more than willing to be put in touch for a further chat with the journalist who wrote the super article in last week’s Yorkshire Post about my books. So, Olivia is the daughter of a friend of mine, originally from my village but now living in London. She’s gorgeous, bubbly, bright and was planning her wedding to partner, Ben, when she started to feel unwell. She put it down to working long hours in London and thought it possibly a resurgence of the glandular fever she’d suffered as a teen. Unfortunately, it was far more serious and, three years ago, she was diagnosed with Hodgkinson Lymphoma, a cancer which, I’ve since learned, is not uncommon in young women of Olivia’s age.

I needed a reason for Rosa, one of the thirty-year-old triplet sisters in my story, to not only abandon her high-flying financial business in London where she’d been awarded Businesswoman of The Year, but to also to return to the village where she grew up and become a vicar like her grandfather before her.

Olivia took me through her own diagnosis, her treatment and, very importantly, the freezing of her eggs prior to chemotherapy, a process of which I had little knowledge. She was frank, very brave and not afraid to tell it how it was, and provided much information on which I could build Rosa’s story.

I am absolutely delighted to report that, not only was Olivia’s treatment successful and she is now cancer free, she and Ben are the proud parents of the very gorgeous Frey, conceived naturally without recourse to the frozen eggs she thought she would have to turn to in order to become a mother.

I am so proud of Olivia, not only because she helped me so much with Rosa’s story in The Village Vicar, but because she has been willing to share her story. As she said in the Yorkshire Post article: “In many ways, my little hiccup year has been a blessing: it taught me some great life lessons and I believe I am a better person for it.”

In reply to this, I would say, as an author, her story taught me lessons too and, certainly, helped The Village Vicar to be the book it is today.

Julie’s latest book The Village Vicar is published in paperback and e-book by Aria on 19 January 2023. Buy it here.

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