AN AUTHOR from Leamington has started her writing career one up on JK Rowling.
While the Harry Potter creator famously starting writing her series about the adventures of the boy wizard in an Edinburgh cafe, Stephanie Summers actually opened her own cafe in Leamington in 2014.
Stephanie – who runs Zou Bisou in Regent Court – has just published her first novel Indigo Lost – the first instalment of a fantasy series Infinity Squared.
The series follows seven-year-old Mysty whose journey begins with the violent murder of her mother at the hands of her father. Mysty escapes her old life through a window in the police station, leading to the discovery of mysterious abilities and the beginning of an altogether new life.
The 33-year-old author says while she gets lots of inspiration from customers she cannot actually write in Zou Bisou.
Stephanie told The Observer: “I’m so lucky to not only publish a book but also own a cafe. Compared to a lot of authors, I have a really interactive experience with my readers.
“I’m one step ahead of JK Rowling because I own my own cafe. I also love writing in cafes but if I’m in Zou Bisou, I always have people coming over to me to chat or staff asking for help, so the irony is I can’t write there because everyone recognises me.”
And although Stephanie is unable to write in Zou Bisou herself, she is hoping the cafe will help get the creative juices of others flowing while also providing a social hub.
“I wanted to put something good back in the world so I opened place for everyone not just for me.
“It’s lovely to see how people use it. They come in bring their laptops and do creative writing and we have a mums’ group who come in with their babies and socialise.
“I want to do something positive for the younger generation who we are losing to social media.
“We have a really fun staff team – some of who have struggled in their life, and who are now contributing and feel valued. It is much better than posting statuses on Facebook.”
After years as a victim of bullying at school, Stephanie describes herself as a ‘somewhat crusader’ and says looking out for others was a recurring theme in the novel.
And it is thanks to her acrobatic character Mysty, that Stephanie discovered a love of yoga, which she also teaches in local schools.
She added: “I feel very close to my central character and find myself inspired by her.
“I’m a very empathetic person. I really feel my characters and I’m often confusing staff in cafes where I write because I’m sat there with tears pouring down my face, crying over a broken relationship, birth or death I’ve just written.
“But it is one of the best things when you have the ability to make yourself and readers feel things. I want to inspire people in my life.”
Stephanie is currently working on her last novel in the eight-part series.
Indigo Lost is available from online retailers and to order from bookshops.