Journalist as author: Ella Dove – Five Steps to Happy
By Vanessa McGreevy
20 Feb 2020
Ella Dove is commissioning editor at Good Housekeeping,
Prima and Red magazine, and writes real life and celebrity stories across the portfolio.
She’s also an ambassador for the Limbless Association and has just been
nominated for the Positive Role Model (Disability) category in the National
Diversity Awards. Her first novel Five Steps to Happy, based on her
personal experiences, is out now.
Can you introduce your book in a couple of sentences?
Five Steps To Happy is an uplifting commercial fiction novel
based on a true story. When protagonist, Heidi Jackson, trips over on a canal
path one Sunday morning, she has no idea of the shocking and lifechanging way
her entire life will change direction….
How did you come to write Five Steps to Happy?
In 2016, I had the same accident as Heidi. Out for a morning
jog, I tripped over, shattering my knee and cutting off the circulation to my
foot. After three days in intensive care, the only remaining option was amputation.
And so, aged 25, I lost my right leg below the knee. Just like Heidi, there was
a man on the path that day, who phoned an ambulance – but then he disappeared,
telling me he had a train to catch. I couldn’t stop thinking about why he had
abandoned me, and what was so important that he would leave an injured person
lying there. I decided to examine this idea through fiction – and that was the
beginning of Five Steps To Happy.
Are you working on another book or do you have other
projects under way?
Yes, book two is underway! I can’t say much at the moment,
other than that it is completely different to Five Steps. Still commercial
fiction, but a whole new idea. I’m really excited about it.
Can you offer any advice to other journalists thinking
about writing a book about their own experiences?
Find the time of day that works for you, and stick to it.
Juggling a full-time journalism job with writing a book hasn’t been easy. In
fact, at times, it has been very tough. But I am a morning person, so I quickly
learnt that setting my alarm an hour and a half earlier than usual and writing
in bed with a coffee pre-work was the key to getting those words down. It’s a
slow but steady process, and journalists are good with deadlines so a bit of
self-discipline definitely helped!
What books are you reading right now, or about to pick
The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr. It’s brilliant, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the craft of writing.
Are there any examples of your own journalism that you’re
especially proud of or would just like to share?
It’s hard to pinpoint! I love my job, and have had so many
amazing opportunities – from retelling incredible personal stories of courage
and resilience to interviewing Idris Elba!
Are you available for freelance commissions, speaker
opportunities or other roles?
I’m not taking freelance commissions unless directly linked
to my book/for promotional purposes, but I am a confident public speaker and
ambassador for several charities, available for speaking opportunities on all
things limb loss, disability awareness and writing.
If I’m a PR professional with a story or opportunity for
you, how should I get in touch?
Twitter, through my publicist Virginia Woolstencroft at
Orion or agent, Richard Pike at Conville and Walsh.
Five Steps to Happy (26/12/2019) is available here
in all formats. Find out more about Ella on Twitter @EllaRoseDove or read more
of her work for Good
Housekeeping. You can also support Ella’s nomination in the National
Diversity Awards by voting for her here.