Farmer writes first novel

PUBLISHED: 14:55 17 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:24 31 May 2010

A LEADING author of non-fiction books was celebrating the publication of her first novel on Friday. Founder of Country Smallholding magazine Katie Thear, from Newport, has made her name writing more than 20 books on poultry and smallholding. Now her fir

A LEADING author of non-fiction books was celebrating the publication of her first novel on Friday.

Founder of Country Smallholding magazine Katie Thear, from Newport, has made her name writing more than 20 books on poultry and smallholding.

Now her first novel Hearing the Grass Grow has just hit the bookshops.

Mrs Thear, 68, said: "Writing a novel is a very new experience for me, but it is something I have always wanted to do.

"It is based on my own experiences and memories growing up in Wales during the Second World War."

Mrs Thear and her husband, David moved to Widdington in 1975 and founded the Country Smallholding magazine, which they sold to Archant in 2001.

Having grown up on a farm in Wales, Mrs Thear has always been interested in looking after animals and kept a two acre smallholding in Widdington. When they moved to Newport they kept poultry.

"When we started out keeping animals and trying to be self-sufficient in the mid-1970s people wondered what on earth we were doing," she said: "But now it has really caught on.

"The smallholding farming sector has become really successful."

A leading writer on the subject, she wrote The Complete Book of Raising Livestock and Poultry, which was published in 1979 and is still in print.

And her three books Free Range Poultry, Organic Poultry and The Smallholders Manual have become must-have works for anyone interested in the subject. Now retired, Mrs Thear has spent the last three years writing a novel, and she said she was excited about finally seeing it in the shops.

Hearing the Grass Grow centres on Mari a pretty land army girl, Werner a German prisoner of war working on the same farm and Martin, an injured English fighter pilot.

There is also a parallel story of a group of village and evacuee children who witness the events of love and conflict.

The paperback book is in shops now and priced at £6.99.

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