A DISTURBING childhood incident in Haddington is the inspiration for a debut novel.

Susi Holliday’s debut offering ‘Black Wood’, published by Black & White, goes on sale next week after she created the story in just three months.

The 40-year-old grew up on Haddington’s West Road and Somnerfield Crescent, with her parents running Inglis Newsagent and The Plough Tavern.

The family moved to Longniddry before Susi, who has released the book as SJI (Susan Jennifer Inglis) Holliday, went off to university and started work as a statistician with a pharmaceutical company.

She said: “I’ve always been keen on writing. Originally, I thought I would do something with English but when it came to leaving school I was not sure.

“It’s quite difficult at that age because you do not always know where you are going, so I went into science – something completely different.

“I’ve always read a stupid amount of books, all the time.” Susi went travelling in 2006 and, upon returning, started attending creative writing classes.

It was from there that her passion for writing was once again re-ignited.

She started writing short stories, winning online competitions and getting plenty of positive feedback.

She said: “That got me really into writing and I thought I would write a novel.

“I wrote so many short stories and to go from writing something that is 500 to 3,000 words up to 80,000 words is a bit of a stretch.” Black Wood tells the tale of Claire and Jo, who go to Black Wood.

Something then happens that leaves Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars.

Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance.

Susi said: “It is set in a fictionalised version of Haddington.

“I had to cut a big chunk out of the town because it was too big, so I stopped at the Nungate Bridge and changed the names of places.

“It is almost like a 1990s version of Haddington turned into the fictionalised place.

“The idea of the story was something that happened to me and a friend down by Burnside.

“We bumped into two boys who threatened us and we were scared and forced out. It always stuck with me that something could have happened.” The first copy of the book dropped through the door of her London home last month.

She said: “It was fantastic.

“I did not even know it was coming that quickly because it is released on March 19.

“I got the book through a couple of weeks ago and I was wondering when it would come.

“There was a little Jiffy bag there with it in it and I had already seen the cover and bits and pieces but to see the full book was quite fantastic.

“Some people are sending me pictures [of the book] in Waterstones, which is just amazing.”