Growing up in Wollombi, Alicia Thompson always dreamed of writing a book.
About 50 years later, that dream has finally come true.
Thompson's debut novel, Something Else, was released in October, and she will hold a local launch at Kelman Vineyard on December 19.
Something Else is the story of David, a teacher from Sydney who gives up his job to come home and run the family farm in western NSW after the death of his father.
David befriends the local doctor, Martin. When David discovers that Martin is gay, he confronts what it means to love someone.
Thompson describes the book as "a bit of a tearjerker", but not without hope.
Something Else been a seven-year labour of love for Thompson, who quit her corporate job last year to focus on her writing.
"It has occupied me during COVID. I left a stressful job, because working and writing were not compatible. I've been lucky to have the time to spend on it," she said.
"I thought I would have to self-publish but was lucky to be picked up by a niche US publisher (Nine Star Press, which specialises in LGBTQA romance, erotica, and literary fiction)."
Thompson has a masters in creative writing, and her published work includes numerous book reviews, travel articles and short stories.
But seeing her debut novel on the shelves is something truly special.
"I was amazed - to hold the book in my hand, I've imagined it my whole life," she said.
Thompson thanks her former English teacher at Cessnock High School, Denis Corke, in the book's acknowledgments for his "copy-editing skills and literary wisdom".
Thompson has been working on another novel - a crime story set in a fictionalised version of Cessnock and Wollombi - for the past 14 years. She hopes to submit a manuscript assessment early next year and that it will be in bookstores by the end of 2022.
Something Else will be launched at Kelman Vineyard on Sunday, December 19 at 1pm. Tickets are $15 (including wine tastings) and are limited to 25.
The book is available via aliciathompson.com.au.