Jemma Wayne has wanted to be a writer since she was six-years-old, when her granddad would give her books and affectionately chide her for not being a published author yet.

Nearly three decades on, the Mill Hill mother is not only a published author, but has had her début novel nominated for this year’s prestigious Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Speaking while on a family skiing holiday in France, she says: “I think my first published work was when I was 11 and my grandmother sent my poem off to an anthology,“ says the author of After Before, which has been long-listed for the prize.

The mother-of-two says of her nomination: “It was totally unexpected and it is such a wonderful roster of writers, I’m really pleased.

“I love exploring ideas and playing with words, and being able to take yourself and you reader to all manner of different places and ideas. I think I feel most completely myself when I’m on the page. It has always been quite a cathartic process for me.”

Growing up in Shenley, Jemma was surrounded by creativity, as her dad, Jeff Wayne, composed the 1978 acclaimed musical adaptation of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds. This influence encouraged her to pursue a career as a writer.

Graduating from Cambridge University in 2002 with an academic scholarship for her work in social and political sciences, Jemma worked as a reporter for the Jewish Chronicle.

In 2004 she became a freelance writer and published her first book, Bare Necessities – a non-fiction guide for young adults living alone for the first time – in 2005.

But the path to success has not always been smooth. The writer confesses: “I have seen a lot of my friends choose more conventional careers and become very high-flying and successful, so it is very difficult to keep trying, but at the same time I have been very fortunate in that I love doing it.

“You have to have quite a lot of confidence in yourself, but you are riddled with self- doubt. It can be a very long path before you get anywhere with it.“ And meeting the challenges of a career and balancing duties as a mother is not straightforward either.

“It is difficult to have a career and motherhood at the same time,“ says the Huffington Post featured blogger.

“I think most women would say it is difficult to get the balance and I’m very lucky with what I do. I’m able to work from home and my hours can be flexible. It is a juggling act definitely.“ But it is an act she seems to have a knack for, with her 2014 book listed alongside 19 other works of fiction.

After Before follows the lives of three women who are dealing with a personal sense of betrayal. Emily is a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide; Lynn is terminally ill and reflecting on past sacrifices; and Vera is coming to terms with her troubled past.

Inspiration for the novel struck when Jemma was at an event for the Rwandan Genocide support charity SURF.

The 34-year-old says: “I was listening to one of the speakers: she was talking about the horrors of genocide. It was the lingering sense of betrayal that she seemed quite consumed by. It was that that struck me and from there I just started thinking about other betrayals.

“I think that being Jewish, even of a generation not directly touched by the Holocaust, the subject of genocide is something that resonates deeply.

“After the Holocaust the world promised ’never again’, but we have seen genocide and continue to see it again and again. And for me it feels important to confront and explore the realities of what has occurred.“

Jemma will find out if she has made the short-list on Monday, April 3 with the winner announced on Wednesday, June 3.