A Bradford woman who followed her dream of writing a book has claimed a spot on Amazon’s best-sellers list.

Taking people on a journey from childhood to marriage and motherhood, Chaylene Harland’s poetry collection, Birth of a Nova, rose up the book charts.

It was in the top selling books for Amazon’s ‘British Poetry’ category, ‘Inspirational & Religious Poetry’ category and ‘American Poetry’ category. 

It briefly took the second spot in British Poetry, second only to William Shakespeare, and was placed number one on Amazon’s ‘Hot New Releases for Contemporary Poetry’.

But the teacher’s path to publishing has been anything but ordinary.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Chaylene Harland, pictured with a notebookChaylene Harland, pictured with a notebook (Image: Newsquest, Mike Simmonds)

Chaylene, who moved from Canada to Wrose to pursue a teaching career, first dabbled in poetry at primary school.

It stayed with her from adolescence to adulthood as she put penned hundreds of poems. 

“I just thought, I’ve been writing poetry for 20 years and I have this big collection but I’m never really sharing it,” said the mum-of-two.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Chaylene Harland with her book, Birth of a NovaChaylene Harland with her book, Birth of a Nova (Image: Newsquest, Mike Simmonds)

“Then the pandemic happened. I found out the day after lockdown was announced that I was pregnant, it was my first pregnancy. Nobody knew what was going to happen. 

“I put a lot of my feelings about being pregnant and the pandemic into poems. It was through that pregnancy I was like, ‘I’m going to give birth and I’ve always wanted to get this book published, I should put a book together’.”

Chaylene was volunteering for the mental health charity, Samaritans, when a fellow volunteer read a few of her poems and encouraged her to keep going.

“I’ve got to say I was really nervous,” the 34-year-old said.

“It’s a very personal read.”

Describing how it felt to see her book rise up Amazon’s charts, Chaylene said: “I was shocked. Amazon is its own type of list.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Chaylene Harland with her book, Birth of a Nova, in The Old Library, Shipley - one of the places she wrote her bookChaylene Harland with her book, Birth of a Nova, in The Old Library, Shipley - one of the places she wrote her book (Image: Newsquest, Mike Simmonds)

“I didn’t really get into it with that goal so when I checked that it had gone to number two I was like, oh my gosh.”

Chaylene, a peace studies graduate, went on to study teaching after her degree. 

With teaching remaining one of Canada’s most popular and competitive careers, Chaylene was scouted by a Bradford-based teaching agency in 2014.

She was only due to stay six months when she met her future husband at a comedy class in Leeds. 

“It was unexpected,” said Chaylene. 

“I was due to go home. I was like, I may as well stay and keep enjoying myself here.”

‘Birth of a Nova’ is a semi-autobiographical poetry novella that follows a woman’s experiences of self-discovery, love, loss and hope.

It touches upon Chaylene’s experiences as a person with albinism, migration and trying to find meaning in life.

The book features illustrations by international collage artist Rebecca Clouatre.

“When I made this book I had to go through all the poetry I’ve ever written,” the writer said. 

“While I was doing that I sorted it into collections. It’s not a series but I’d like to make one or two more books.”