A LANCASHIRE author will be signing copies of her debut novel in Kendal next week.

'Roses of Marrakech', by Rachel Clare, tells the story of a 36 year-old primary school teacher who suffers from low self esteem due to a facial birthmark. She eventually jets off to Marrakech to fulfill a childhood dream.

Having cerebral palsy presented its own set of challenges to Ms Clare, of Lancaster, growing up, and the obstacles which she has had to overcome have subsequently influenced her writing.

“To a certain extent, my experiences growing up with cerebral palsy do lie behind my main character, Ivy," she said.

"However, I didn't want it to be autobiographical, so to create distance between Ivy and I, I gave ger a facial birthmark instead.

"Whereas my cerebral palsy is on show to everyone I meet, I thought it would be interesting to explore a character who can, and does, hide her disfigurement."

Ms Clare, 44, previously did work experience at the Westmorland Gazette while studying for a Postgraduate Diploma in Newspaper Journalism in 2003.

The Westmorland Gazette: Author Rachel ClareAuthor Rachel Clare

As well as the diploma, she has degrees in English and French, and now works full-time as a teaching assistant at St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Morecambe, where she has set up a school newspaper.

Ms Clare said: "My love of writing began in primary school. I enjoyed escaping to different worlds of my own creation and my stories were always in the school magazine.

She added: "Writing can be a lonely and frustrating job sometimes so my day job keeps me grounded. The children in my class have been so excited about the publication of my novel, with some saying they want to be writers too when they grow up!

"I want to inspire others now I've achieved my dreams of becoming a writer."

Ms Clare will be signing books at WHSmith, Kendal, on Thursday 25 April from 11am.