A LIFE-THREATENING illness inspired an Inverclyde girl to become an rising literary star - in Korea.

Rachel Pudsey has fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming an author after penning a series of fantasy novels that have seen her nominated for five prestigious awards.

The former Gourock High pupil told how she was struck down by a flu that developed into a potentially deadly bout of pneumonia.

It was while recovering from this that she picked up her pen to pass some time - and uncovered her hidden talent.

She said: "I was stuck in my home trying to pass the time and started looking through my old writing notes.

"Ideas started flowing from there and I started jotting scenes and character notes.

"It was the beginning of what was a new chapter for me."

Rachel, who grew up in Forsyth Street, gave up jobs at Aulds in Greenock and Harwoods pub to move to Korea and teach English to schoolchildren - but never gave up on her hopes of becoming an acclaimed writer.

She said: “I'd always wanted to see more of the world but I'd never thought it possible because of money.

"After recovering from what was quite a serious illness, I felt like I had been given a second chance. Prior to getting sick, I had met a few people who'd taught English abroad. I contacted them and, long story short ended up working alongside one of them in a small academy in Korea.”

She finished her novel, the first in a series of three books, and it was released to widespread acclaim in Korea.

Rachel explained: "At the moment I have five nominations and two recommended read awards. The recommended reads come from book reviewer sites while the other awards are based on nominations or self-submitting. I am nominated for the Author Show's top female author, and Top Shelf's Indie Book Award, all of which are nominated by readers.

"I am also in the New Apple Book Awards and will find out the results this summer.”

The Aronia series, set in an alternate fantasy universe, follows the fantastical tale of Abigail Crumble, who gets more than she bargained for when wishing on a star for her 16th birthday.

Although loving life on the other side of the world, Rachel says she still misses Inverclyde, adding: "I miss the views and walks along the River Clyde

"I was also part of Kayos youth theatre and that really brought out the creative side of me.

"I loved being a part of that group and I would encourage anyone who loves drama and theatre to join them."

Rachel says her literary inspiration comes from a variety of authors, including J.K Rowling, William Goldman, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.

She added: "I can't think of anything else I would rather be doing. I love creating and writing is a great way to escape the stresses of reality and express emotions in a healthy way.

"I certainly never thought when I picked up those old notes it would lead me here."

Rachel is currently working on the third and final book in the series while teaching languages to Korean adults. You can find both books in the Aronia series, (Watcher of the Night Sky and The Faelti), on Amazon.