A BASINGSTOKE mother has turned her dream into reality by self-publishing her debut historic novel.

Forty-four-year-old Alison Williams, of Brampton Gardens, Hatch Warren, has written and published The Black Hours, which is set in 17th century England in the grip of the civil war.

In the novel, Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled Witchfinder General, scours the countryside, seeking out those he believes to be in league with the devil.

Meanwhile, in the small village of Coggeshall, 17-year-old Alice Pendle finds herself at the centre of gossip and speculation.

The tale of persecution, superstition, religious fundamentalism, hate and love mixes fact with fiction in a drama that follows Alice, as she is thrown into a world of fear and confusion, and Matthew, a man driven by his beliefs to commit dreadful acts in the name of religion.

Alison, who lives with her husband Gary and two children, Scott, 17, and Jess, 15, grew up in Basingstoke and after moving away in her 20s, returned to the town in 2002 to raise her family.

She worked as a learning support assistant at Hatch Warren Junior School between 2004 and 2009 before deciding to pursue her dream of writing full-time, studying a one-year distance learning Masters Degree in creative writing at the University of Glasgow in 2011.

She said: “History fascinates me – but not so much the kings and queens, the emperors, the military heroes or the great leaders. It is more the ordinary people whose lives were touched by the decisions, the beliefs and the whims of those who had power over them and who now fill our history books.

“It was with this in mind that I began writing The Black Hours. It’s been hard work, editing and re-drafting then editing again. But I am so pleased that the novel is finally finished and I am thrilled to be publishing it.”

When talking about the challenges she faced, Alison said: “The most difficult part is really the editing and proofing. I’m lucky in that my fellow students from the Masters course read all my drafts and re-drafts.”

The Black Hours is available through amazon.co.uk in paperback and Kindle editions.