Eregendal founder Maggie Shaw creates her stories from her many and varied life experiences. A teenage runaway who made good despite her undiagnosed Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Maggie writes as one who has walked the walk in recovery and spiritual development. Her degrees in science, divinity and church music, and her career as a Mental Health Dietitian, underpin her work with a solid framework, supporting the exciting adventure stories she loves to tell.
Maggie is also a musician, composer and song writer, and many of her songs are inspired by the stories she writes. She lives in Cheshire with her husband Alan and their tabby cat Tinker.
Maggie’s music and short stories have been broadcast by Radio Carlisle, Cat Radio, and Red Shift Radio; and articles of hers have been published in the West Cumbrian Arts Co-operative magazine Raven, The Whitehaven News, Amateur Photographer, and The Crewe and Nantwich Chronicle. Online, Maggie publishes through ArtSwarm, YouTube and Sound Cloud.
The birth of Maggie Shaw
Maggie Shaw was born on an unusually snowy day in Surrey in March 1955. Her father came from a farming background. But at the time of Maggie’s birth, he had moved on in his career to work for the Post Office, and would later be transferred to a new role as Inspector of Foreign Dividends with the Inland Revenue. Maggie’s mother was a teacher who began her career as a nursery teacher, swiftly climbing the ladder to become a Nursery Headteacher and at retirement a local authority Inspector of Nursery Schools. Maggie’s brother was born 6 and a half years earlier. The family was based in Northern Surrey for much of Maggie’s childhood.
Maggie Runs Away To London
At the age of 15, Maggie made the decision to run away from home. At school, she had wanted to study biology and chemistry, as she dreamed of being a biochemist. But this was made impossible by the school and her parents. Instead, she was told to take biology and art, with no thought of a career for her to aim for. Also about this time her grandmother died, three years after her grandfather, and the family's regular visits to their Cumbrian farm and her freedom to roam the fells stopped. She felt unsupported and unloved, and her relationship with her parents was severely strained.Our Merchandise
Maggie Meets Bob
At the age of 17, Maggie returned to Surrey. Shortly after moving back home she secured a job at a local garage, which is where she met her first husband, Bob. Bob was an apprentice mechanic at the garage and they first met each other when he delivered a car early in the morning. Maggie offered him a cup of tea after his long drive and the rest, as they say, was history. This was the time of Maggie's first flowering as a writer and musician. She sold her first poem and performed her songs at local voluntary groupsLink Text
Marriage, Addiction & Depression
Maggie and Bob struggled with addiction throughout their marriage. Maggie drank heavily and relied on prescription medication. In an era where doctors prescribed antidepressants as a sort of ‘magic bullet’, Maggie found herself addicted to Valium, amongst other things. That and their heavy drinking led to the breakdown of their relationship, which eventually came to an end in 1977. Throughout this period of time, and beyond, Maggie found solace and relief through writing and composing. This creative outlet was cathartic for her, and she found that it helped with her depression, particularly at the lowest and darkest moments.Link Text
The Accident That Saved Her Life
A month after the breakdown of her marriage, Maggie was in a serious road accident which left her severely injured. Driving home through the countryside on her motorbike, she was involved in a side-on collision with an out of control car going in the opposite direction. As a result of this, she ended up with extensive injuries to her leg, knee and shoulder, including a broken thigh. The year following this accident saw Maggie learning to walk again and struggling to cope with the pain of her life-changing injuries. During this period of recovery, Maggie used her writing and music to help her. Looking back, she feels and hears the echoes of depression in her compositions and stories, exacerbated by pain and trauma and still feels it keenly now.Link Text
The Conversation that Transformed Her Life
Maggie had an operation which should have corrected a knee problem, but it didn't work. As she was crying about the news the day after the operation, the Hospital Chaplain visited her. They had known each other for some time through working at the hospital, and talked for some time. He told her about God's unconditional love, that we do not have to be anything or do anything to be loved by God. This was a revelation to Maggie, who had only experienced conditional love in her life in the past, and she believes it is the key event that started to turn her life around. When the Hospital Chaplain left her, she was still crying, but now her tears were tears of joy. When Maggie was able to drive again three months later, she joined the local church in Distington, Cumbria. Soon after, Maggie handed her will and her life over to God. Though the months that followed were tough, she was better able to cope with the firm foundation of faith supporting her. It was during this time that Maggie entered one of her most creative phases.Link Text
Starting Out on the Recovery Trail
January 2nd 1984 is a key date for Maggie, as that is the day she decided to give up alcohol and prescribed mood altering drugs. Maggie had joined a healing prayer group as the secretary, and at the meetings fellow member Bob shared about his recovery on the 12 Step programme. Over the next weeks and months he guided Maggie through the 12 Steps of recovery, and helped her find a new way of living without the props of drink and prescription drugs.
A New Home!
Maggie married Bob in June 1989 in Perthshire, and moved into their new home in the Tay Valley in November that year. They were very happy living in the little cottage in the sleepy little hamlet. They heated their home with old berry posts and grew lots of fruit and vegetables in their garden. Their only concern was Bob's health. He had been starting to have breathing problems, though these improved with the right diet. Maggie decided to go back to school and enrolled in Perth College, where she studied Biology and Chemistry, the two subject denied her by her school all those years before. She aimed to become a Dietitian, but had many obstacles to overcome.
Maggie's First Qualification
In 1995, Maggie graduated with a 2.1 Honours Degree in Dietetics and became a Registered Dietitian. It had been a hard journey getting there. She had commuted daily between Perthshire and Edinburgh for the whole of her course, coming home each evening to care for Bob whose lung problems had become so serious he had been admitted to hospital several times. During her clinical placement, her mother had died following a stroke, and despite this she was bullied by the people training her on her placement. 'I cried tears of joy when I saw my name on the pass list,' Maggie said: 'At last I had succeeded at something,'
The First of Six House Moves in Three Years
In 1999 Maggie and Bob reluctantly made the decision to move out of their beautiful country cottage in to a ground floor flat in the nearby town. Bob had started to use a wheelchair and mobility scooter to get around, and Maggie hadn't fully recovered from two slipped lumbar discs which had put her in hospital the year before, caused by the struggle to care for him despite her own physical problems following the accident in 1977. Bob's breathing problems had also affected him mentally. He began to suffer aggressive vascular dementia. As a form of respite, Maggie began to study a Divinity Degree at Edinburgh University. Two months later, she ended up in an Edinburgh Women's Aid Refuge when Bob threatened to sort out their problems with a 7lb axe. He had begun divorce proceedings unbeknown to her even before she had left.
A New Start!
In 2001, Maggie qualified with a Bachelor of Divinity Degree with Merit from Edinburgh. She also managed to get a job as a dietitian in South Cheshire, and moved down there in September. Unfortunately, because of the awful attack on the World Trade Centre on 11th September, her job fell through. She decided to stay in Cheshire, though, as the cost of living was so much better than in Edinburgh, and she had joined a friendly church nearby. Bob continued to cause her problems through the divorce proceedings, promising he would make her commit suicide. She still loved him, and had always hoped that his doctor would realise his dementia and prescribe something to return him to the person he had been, so that she could care for him through his last years. But that was not to be. He died in 2003, a few months after the divorce was complete.
Back to Surrey, briefly
In 2004 Maggie had a right knee replacement operation which, though a success, left her with severe muscle, nerve and blood vessel damage in her lower right leg. Despite this, she trained to be a senior school teacher because she wanted to understand young people more. About the time she finished the course and graduated with a PGCSE, her father began to need a bit more support at home, controlling his diabetes. Maggie took a job at a senior school in north Surrey and moved back to the family home to support her father. She had expected to be there for several years as he was still an active 84 year old, keeping his vegetable garden. But sadly, he was diagnosed with a tumour that August bank holiday and was admitted to hospital the next day. He died at the end of Maggie's first week in her new teaching post. Once she had helped her brother sell the family home, she moved back to Cheshire.
Third time lucky!
In 2010, Maggie married Alan in the church where they had both sung together in the choir since she had lived in Cheshire. The response from their friends was overwhelming. They had invited 160 people to the wedding. 180 came. Other church members had been waiting years for it to happen - Maggie and Alan had been the last to know!. Maggie worked as a part time consultant Mental Health Dietitian in several private locked-ward hospitals in the North West. With more free time, she applied to study a foundation degree in Church Music to support her work as Director of Music at her church, and was the first to be accepted on the course.
Yet Another Qualification!
In 2015, Maggie was diagnosed with COPD, probably caused by years of living with her previous husband, who smoked. She was just finishing the Foundation Degree in Church Music at the time, and was encouraged to set up a singing for lung health group. So after she had completed the FDCM, she set up the weekly group, Breathe Better Sing Together, which uses singing to improve breathing. With all the singing she was doing, she found her own breathing problems improved a lot.
Eregendal is born!
Maggie began planning to retire from dietetics and decided to start self-publishing the books she had written over the years. She raised the idea with Alan over dinner at the Bailbrook Hotel in Bath early in February, during a two night stay. Had they booked a month later, they could not have got there because of heavy snow, reminiscent of her own birth years before. Maggie decided to publish her books under the Eregendal brand rather than as a self-published author, and the first book, The Vision and Beyond, was published in July. A few months later, in October, Maggie was finally diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. It was like a revelation to her. At last she understood why she does not think the way many other people think. It explained many of her difficulties as a child, for many undiagnosed Autists suffer from severe depression. And at last she understood the strange vision in the first part of The Vision and Beyond. It describes the way an autistic person tries to understand the world around, when everyone else seems to understand it without a problem.
Eregendal Publishers & Music
The name Eregéndal comes from the name of a character in one of Maggie Shaw’s earliest books, shortly to be published in the Autumn of 2020. The unique name was created from naming patterns in Celtic and Germanic folklore.
Micro-publishing business Eregendal was set up in 2018 to publish novels in Visionary Fiction and Christian Mystic genres, which tend not to be accepted by main-stream publishers for commercial reasons. We use Print On Demand to produce our paperbacks and also sell every title as an e-book, which enables our titles to be produced in a cheaper, more ecologically friendly way than those used by traditional publishers.
Publish your Book with Eregendal
While Eregendal does not operate as a traditional publisher, it is possible to publish under our imprint if you have an unpublished novel in the Visionary Fiction or Christian Mystic genres. We are also happy to give basic guidance to unpublished writers about self-publishing and will send our free Information Sheet upon request. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Maggie's Book Recommendation
The Vision and Beyond (Paperback) By Maggie Shaw
Eregendal publishes novels in the relatively new Visionary Fiction genre, a sub-category of Inspirational Fiction. Strong story lines drive the narration, but the characters also develop and change through the course of the story, and there is usually a strong metaphysical dynamic. Writers in the Visionary Fiction style include the Inklings authors J R R Tolkein, C S Lewis and Charles Williams, who wrote in the 20th century, some time before the genre was given a name.
The term "visionary fiction" was suggested by Renée Weber, professor of philosophy at Rutgers University, and used by John Algeo in a 1982 article which described recent examples and earlier precursors. Algeo called Visionary Fiction a modern and sophisticated version of the fairy tale. Present-day authors writing in the genre have grouped together in the Visionary Fiction Alliance to help define the genre and support and encourage other authors working in the same field.