When she posted on Facebook that she’d written a book, her friends thought her account had been hacked.
Little did they know that successful professional chef Stephanie Gray had for years been secretly dreaming of writing her very own novel.
And that dream was to come true after months of hard work and the inspiration of her father.
Born and bred in Cloughmills, Stephanie Gray comes from hardworking stock. She’s brought up two sons all while running businesses including the Causeway Hotel, The Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy and starting two restaurants – the Millside Clouhgmills and Millside Gracehill.
“Catering is incredibly hard work and with two kids to raise and bills to pay, the idea of taking time out to write a book seemed impossible. But I always had the dream to put pen to paper and write a book.
“Years passed and we handed back the Causeway Hotel to the National Trust and the Fullerton Arms changed hands. My sister Anne and her husband Paddy McGarry bought and took over the Millside Gracehill, which is growing from strength to strength, and my focus changed to expanding and driving forward the Millside Cloughmills.”
Sadly life took a turn when Stephanie’s father Robert passed away in July 2017.
“Everyone called him The Don, he was such a big part of our lives and so incredibly supportive. Dad was always there to support us and whenever anything needed fixed or done, he was right there to lend a hand.
“His passing was really difficult for us all and led me to a time of reflection. It was a dark time but it did lead me to writing the book as I realised how incredibly short life is. I threw myself into the book and the words just flowed.”
Most people thought Stephanie would use her years of experience in the kitchen to write a cookbook. But that was not to be.
Rather she went for a lighthearted book, Local Lily Goes to Spain, that was exactly the tonic Stephanie needed.
Using her heroine Lily’s decision to jet off to Spain as inspiration, the chapters flowed and the laughter ensued.
As a local girl, Stephanie wanted to keep the story true to life here Northern Ireland. Her aim was to create a story that was fun and relatable, one of those books that you don’t want to put down.
“We’ve all had those moments where you suddenly realise that you are laughing out loud to a book and have to stop yourself. And that’s exactly what I wanted for readers of my book.
“As Lily’s story developed, I was inspired to add more characters. Friends and individuals that we could all recognise a bit of ourselves in and a story that was so fun and exciting that you didn’t want to put it down.”
Described as Northern Ireland’s version of Sex and the City, ‘Local Lily goes to Spain’ follows Lily after she catches her long-term boyfriend doing the nasty on their sofa with another women.
Armed with a new look, her best friends and a fresh take on life Lily high-tails it to Spain for sun, sangria and Spanish men. But Lily quickly discovers that leaving bad mojo behind isn’t as easy as getting on a plane.
There will be dancing, there will be catfights; there will be romance and adventure. Anything can happen when Local Lily Goes to Spain.
“From start to finish the book took me about 6 months to write. I’ve never done anything like this at all, but I really felt daddy’s presence with me. At my lowest time I was able to focus on Lily’s story and achieve a dream that I’d had for over 10 years.”
Self published and already getting rave reviews on Amazon, ‘Local Lily Goes to Spain’ will have you dreaming of summer holidays and laughing out loud at Lily’s antics in the sunshine.
Local Lily Goes to Spain is available to buy on Amazon.