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Tim Relf: A Story of Success, Celebrity and Social Media

It’s fair to say that writing plays a massive role in the life of Tim Relf, a successful author, who lives in the Leicestershire village of Drayton, with his wife, two cats and a “badly behaved” Golden Retriever named Dudley.

By day, he works as a freelance journalist, specialising in topics about farming and the countryside – two of his greatest loves.

Picture: Tim Relf and Dudley

However, with three books under his belt, fiction has always been Tim’s greatest passion, and he flirted with the idea
of writing a book throughout much of his adult life, before finally deciding to take the plunge in 2004, with his first offering ‘Stag’. This was followed up by ‘Home’ in 2005.

But it was Mr Relf’s third book ‘What She Left’, (published under the pen-name T.R Richmond), which really put him on the map.

The successful psychological thriller, was translated into 21 different languages, when it was published by Penguin back in 2015.

The audiobook was narrated by legendary actor Charles Dance, as well as the popular actress Emilia Clarke, who was enjoying great success at the time, thanks to a career making turn in ‘Game of Thrones.’

The pair’s involvement, is one of the more surreal elements of Tim’s incredible storytelling career so far, he told Pukaar.

“I actually met him [Dance] down in London. I went down to the Penguin Studio and spent half a day listening to him record the audio, which was really interesting. I was very excited, although I tried not to show it!” he revealed.

“He’s got such a lush, rich voice – he was brilliant, and my Mum, who’s a big Charles Dance fan, was over the moon. In fact, I think she was more excited about that than me actually being published!” joked the author.

Speaking about his international success, Tim said: “I’ve got a whole book shelf, with basically 20 copies of my book, all written in different languages. I’m very lucky.

It was incredible to think that the book I was working on in my kitchen, at half five in the morning, ending up travelling around the world like it did. It was an amazing feeling – a dream come true!

Described as a “brilliantly modern novel of love, obsession, and revenge,” ‘What She Left’ follows Professor Jeremy Cooke, as he pieces together the life and mysterious death of a former student, through the digital paper trails that survive her; her diaries, letters, Facebook posts, tweets, and text messages.

Each chapter is told in a different way, which some unfolding in the form of Twitter feeds, and others taking the form of diary entries and Facebook comments.

“What I tried to do with the book, was structure it in a way that almost reflected the story, as if it were an unfolding news story,” explained Tim.

“The idea actually came to me after seeing a random tweet somebody had written, stating what song they’d like played at their funeral.

“It may sound a bit morbid, but this sparked something in my mind. I found it quite bizarre that I had no idea who this person was, and yet I’d been given a candid insight into their life like that.

“It felt like quite a bit of personal information, and it just got me thinking – if you can find that out through social media, then what else could you find? There’s so much information swirling around out there… That’s how it all started really. It just takes one little thing to spark an idea sometimes.”

Alongside his novels, Mr Relf is also a keen and successful poet, whose work has been published in places like ‘Acumen,’ ‘Poetry Salzburg’ and ‘The Spectator.’

He won the National Poetry Competition in 2018 and took second place in the 2021 McLellan Poetry Prize.

Although he hopes to write more novels in the future, it is this aspect of writing which he is keen to pursue at present, and he is currently in the midst of a writing residency at the University of Leicester’s Botanic Garden.

Throughout the course of the year, Tim plans to write a series of poems inspired by the site, and also host a poetry workshop there in May.

“I was transfixed by the garden the first time I visited, so it’s a real honour to have this role,” said Mr Relf, a keen amateur gardener.

“What I love about this garden is, while it’s firmly in Leicester, it can transport you to desert areas and tropical spaces.

“Hopefully my series of poems inspired by this beautiful place will encourage others to try writing, and spark a curiosity about plants and horticulture.” he added.

For more information about Tim Relf, visit:

By Louise Steel

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