Welcome to Polly Heron's website.


I am a saga writer living on the North Wales coast, but I am originally from Manchester, which is where my books are set.


I am represented by Camilla Shestopal of Shesto Literary.


I also write as Susanna Bavin and as Maisie Thomas. I am on Facebook as Maisie.

Paperback bargain:


If you're like me and you prefer 'real' books to e-books, you may like to know that the paperback edition of New Beginnings for the Surplus Girls, book 4 in the series, is currently £4.65 on Amazon. I don't know how long this bargain will last.


Meeting Belinda


Before I started writing my Surplus Girls Quartet (written as Polly Heron), I planned it all out in meticulous detail. As well as writing a series, I wanted each of the books to be able to be enjoyed as a stand-alone.


To achieve this, I decided that:

- each book would have its own heroine and hero;

- the heroines would have secretarial school in common;

- the two sisters, Prudence and Patience Hesketh, who run the secretarial school would have a continuing story that progressed from book to book, but...

- each part of the Heskeths' story must feel complete to the reader of that individual book;

- characters from previous books would appear in the other books; and

- a tiny plot point in book 1 would become a major plot point in book 3.


I started by putting together a huge synopsis of 20-something pages, with each book's characters and plot written in detail. I didn't write it as a consecutive document - book 1, then book 2 etc. I wrote the synopses for all the books at the same time. This meant that if I got stuck, say, on Molly's story (book 2), I could switch to Nancy's (book 3) and concentrate on that for a while until I hit a wall, at which point I might switch back to Belinda in book 1.


When planning each book, I used the same formula:

- write about the heroine, her family background, her personality, her job, her hopes etc;

- ditto for the hero;

- work out the full plot, including information about the other characters;

- plan that book's allocation of the continuing story of the Hesketh sisters.


Here is what I wrote about Belinda, the heroine of book 1, in the synopsis:


In the first book, the heroine is BELINDA LAYTON. Belinda is from a large, impoverished family. The Laytons are pretty awful. They used to be respectable, hard-working working-class. But dad DENBY has gone from bad to worse where jobs are concerned and each job has dragged his family further down the social ladder. Mum KATHLEEN despairs of him and whenever she appears, you can smell the burning martyr. Denby is always trying to get money out of his three working children, much to Kathleen’s annoyance… but then she creeps after them and tries to wheedle money out of them herself.


Belinda moved in with her fiancé’s widowed mother ENID SLOAN and grandmother BEATTIE SLOAN when, aged 15, she got engaged; but her fiancé, BEN SLOAN, died towards the end of the Great War and since then Belinda has been a pretend-widow. She owes a lot to Enid and Beattie. Their cottage might be tiny but it is a big step up for Belinda, whose family is crammed into two rooms in a shabby house containing four families, all of whom share a stinking privy in the back yard. For Belinda, being invited to live with Enid and Beattie was a massive relief, but also a source of guilt, because she feels she shouldn’t be glad not to live with her family. Every week now, after she has tipped up for her bed and board with Enid and Beattie, and slipped Kathleen some money to help out, she has only a few coppers left for herself and she can’t see how to change this. Had Ben lived, it would have sorted itself out naturally once they got married, but now it feels like she is in a financial trap.


Belinda has received nothing but kindness from Enid and Beattie and is deeply grateful to them. Moreover, their shared grief has brought them extra close – but is she grateful enough to spend the rest of her life in mourning for Ben? For a long time she was happy to wear black and live in mourning, but now she wants to live a normal life again. She doesn’t expect ever to meet another man – she doesn’t even want to – but she is no longer content to live her life swathed in black. She wants to gain some skills so she can support herself and have a decent future, but Enid and Beattie struggle with the idea. Will Belinda rise above them in the world? They love her and don’t want to lose her, but above all, they believe Ben would want Belinda to stay with them.

The Surplus Girls series


The Surplus Girls series explores the predicament faced by many young women in the aftermath of the Great War. They had grown up expected by society to marry and become housewives and mothers. Then came the war – and a generation of young men perished. Many women lost their sweethearts or fiancés while others, without knowing it, lost the men they would have married had they ever had the chance to meet. This meant that many girls now faced a future in which they would have to provide for themselves, while being regarded as ‘on the shelf’ or ‘old maids’.


The world of work offered women far fewer opportunities than came the way of men. Moreover, a woman doing the same job as a man would typically earn one third less. It was legal to refuse to employ a woman simply because she was a woman and it was considered patriotic to employ a former soldier even if a female candidate would have been more suited to the job. During an interview, an unmarried woman could expect to be grilled about her marriage prospects, because should she marry, the expectation would be that she would leave in order to be a housewife. In plenty of jobs, marriage automatically meant dismissal.



In The Surplus Girls series, I have explored various jobs that would have been open to girls and women in the early 1920s. Each book has a different heroine whom the story centres around, but one of the things that links the books together is that each heroine attends a business school to learn secretarial skills.


I loved delving into the social history of the time and seeking out suitable roles for my characters – ‘suitable’ meaning appropriate to the time, not necessarily the right job for the character personally – as Nancy finds out to her cost in Christmas with the Surplus Girls. In the newly published fourth book, New Beginnings for the Surplus Girls, Jess makes a particularly interesting heroine, as she sees herself as a career woman, not an unfortunate surplus girl. She dreams of creating a successful working life for herself but has to cope with all the disadvantages that women faced at the time.

The Home Front Girls


The Home Front Girls is the name of my new WW2 trilogy written as Susanna Bavin. It's also the title of book 1.


The two girls on the cover are Sally (in the green top) and Betty. They get off to a very shaky start with one another when Sally causes Betty to lose her job. Later, they end up working in the same place - a salvage depot.


The book will be published on April 16th. The Kindle version can currently be pre-ordered. Here is the link to Amazon: https://geni.us/B0CSG3WLMVcover  


Just so you know, it will also be available as a paperback - I'll give you details when it is available for pre-order - and also as an audiobook, read by Juia Franklin who narrates all my books. It will also be available in large print.

Heritage Railway Pictures


If you'd like to see some photos of the types of railway things you read about in the Railway Girls books, then click here to be taken to my blog.




Meeting Dot


If you enjoyed the feature at the top of the page about Belinda as a character, you may like to look at this blog about Dot Green, a Railway Girls character who captured readers' hearts right from the start of the series.


Click here to see the blog.

Springtime with the Railway Girls


I’m sorry to tell you that Springtime with the Railway Girls isn’t going to be available in any of the UK supermarkets.


This is a huge shame and I know that lots of you will be disappointed – I am too.


Other ways for you to get your copy:
Here are the links to the Amazon paperback and Kindle.
Here's the link to Kobo. This page has the e-book and the audiobook.
You can also order your paperback in person from any branch of WH Smith’s, Waterstone’s or any bookshop. You won’t be charged for placing an order. You can order pre-publication.




And of course you can request the book from your local public library. Coming from a family of lifelong library users, and as a former librarian, I love it when readers borrow my books!


The Home Front Girls:


This is my new trilogy and it will be published in 2024 under my Susanna Bavin name.


The publication timetable is as follows:

Book 1:

Pre-order opens mid-January

Publication mid-April


Book 2:

Pre-order opens February

Publication May


Book 3:

Pre-order opens May

Publication September


I'm proud and excited that these books will be released as Susanna Bavin titles and  hope you're all going to love the stories.




A Special Picture:



I love this picture. It's wonderful to see all four Surplus Girls books together.

Book News:


The Surplus Girls is on Kindle Unlimited....


 .... and so is The Surplus Girls' Orphans.




If you are on Twitter, you may like to know that I have set up a new account for myself as Polly. Here it is - I hope you'll pop across and follow me. If you do, please say hello! (Just to avoid any confusion, yes I do still have the Susanna Bavin account on Twitter.)


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Here is a quick link for you to my Author Page on Amazon UK.