WRITING a novel is no easy feat, but for Southminster author Donna Siggers it was an even higher mountain to climb.

Donna, 46, started writing her debut work in 2010.

But in 2014 she suffered a life-changing head injury after being assaulted.

The injuries from the incident left her suffering seizures and with permanent swelling behind her eye, which means she can no longer drive.

She suffered from daily migraines and had extreme vertigo. The injury meant she could only write for ten minutes at a time. But she was determined to finish her book Broken and in 2017 she began the process of writing again in a bid to aid her recovery.

“Without any short-term memory I had no idea what I’d written the previous day so I needed to devise a way to establish prompts,” she said.

“My storyboard looks like a police incident room wall, with interlinked lines running from stickers.”

The book, which is 80,000 words long, is the first of a trilogy of crime thrillers featuring police officers Katie-Ann Warwick and Sam Cooper, who are trying to trace a kidnapped woman.

Donna used a “memory palace” associated with the Sherlock TV series to order her ideas and create a storyline.

Donna said: “I used my writing to develop this complex system before applying it to my actual life.

“Until my double vision stabilised I was having to use coloured transparencies in order to read otherwise the words swam over the page or across the computer screen, causing vertigo and nausea.”

The most difficult thing was overcoming her post traumatic stress disorder.

She said: “It’s taken a lot of hard work to gain control of these symptoms and although it is something I will now have to live with for the rest of my life, I do so with the tools to cope.

“Writing allows me to express myself freely and has become a welcome distraction, a therapy and a positive focus within a world that had become a very uncontrolled and frightening.”

Donna said her injury had left her unable to recognise herself “both physically and emotionally”.

But it has inspired her to share her story through the autobiographical work Lost Soul: Poetry From A Broken Mind and My Journey Of Recovery.

The work is taken from Donna’s journal and medical records.

“I’ve been brutally honest within its pages so show the reader the dark moments, the funny moments and, above all, provide hope,” she said.

“I would like others facing similar situations to know that what they feel and struggle with are understood by someone else, because not everyone around you understands all of the time.”

Donna say the one thing her injury has taught her is to appreciate what she has and live life to the full.

She said: “Despite the adversity and challenges my head injury has presented me, I’ve never given up hope that I can re-build my life.

“Writing has provided me with the confidence to search for those opportunities. Not only has it channelled my frustrations, my emotions and pent-up energies, but I’ve met, both personally and virtually, the most incredible, inspirational people, many of whom have become close friends.

“Writing provides an outlet to express yourself and you can do that through distorting truth in fiction, which is pretty much what I have done with my thriller series.

“The story isn’t my story, but those who know me well will recognise a lot of me within the pages of my series.”

In October, Donna travelled to Ohio, America, for the Author Academy Awards. Broken, which was published a year ago, won the best thriller gong.

She said: “Winning the Author Academy Award has already given me so much change by connecting me with a group of authors with in excess of 1,300 members – the exposure I’m now getting as an author is phenomenal just because of this group.”

Lost Soul is out this year. Betrayal, the second book in the Broken trilogy, is available now.