Stanford-Smith, a trained actor, has always had a passion for creative writing. After receiving positive feedback on a short children's story she sent in to BBC Radio Wales last summer, she secured a deal with publisher Honno for a trilogy based around her swashbuckling Elizabethan hero, Nick Talbot.
The adventure reignites, in fictional form, the rivalry between William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. The book's 16-year-old Nick, the son of the late first Earl of Rokesby, runs away with a troupe of traveling players who take him to London where he soon comes to Marlowe's attention.
Stanford-Smith said of the deal, "I was gobsmacked. I had to put the phone down and ring them back as I was so taken aback by the whole thing. I had to pull myself together before I could even pick up the phone to call back.
"It was out of the blue. I'd been waiting for the manuscript to be sent back, really, rejected. It was such a wonderful surprise."
Born in Brighton and trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before working with theatre director and impresario Sir Tyrone Guthrie in the West End, the author later moved into teaching and directing.
"It was so lovely to have the book in my hand with embossed cover," she said. "I read it again just for pleasure – to have my book, my words, in my hand as my very own book, it was wonderful. It's on the bookshelves now next to my favourite authors in pride of place with a gap for the next two in the trilogy."
After retiring to Anglesey in the 1990s, Stanford-Smith realized a life-long dream by founding Ucheldre Repertory Company. She still works with the company as both a director and teacher and is currently directing a production of Richard III for production this autumn.
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