The book was one of many at auction
A grandmother from the north-east of England has surprised the publishing world by clinching a book deal with a major publisher.
Random House has signed Sheila Quigley, 55, from Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland, for a six-figure sum.
Her first book, Run for Home, is due to be published in 2004, after she got in touch with literary agent Darley Anderson.
Ms Anderson said: "Eighteen months ago, I got a call from Sheila Quigley who wanted to send me a screenplay about cigarette smuggling.
"I agreed to read it. It was unpolished but gritty and although I didn't think I could sell it, I detected a real talent for storytelling and character.
"I asked her if she could write a gangster novel set in the North East.
"I worked with her editorially on a couple of drafts over a year until it was ready to submit at auction."
She said there was a battle at auction before Susan Sandon, of Random House, clinched it.
Ms Sandon said they were excited to be publishing the book.
"Once you start reading Run for Home, you can't put it down," she said.
"Sheila is quite simply an unparalleled storyteller, with a unique gift for painting vivid scenes and creating characters you really care about - a terrific mix of pace and tremendous warmth.
"This is undoubtedly the launch of a major new talent and we are delighted, and very excited, to be Sheila's publishers."
Sheila started work at 15 as a presser in tailoring factory Hepworths.
She married at 18 and had three daughters and son. She now has seven grandchildren - five boys and two girls.
Run for Home is due to be published by Century in April 2004 followed by an Arrow paperback in January 2005.