TOM Vaughan MacAulay’s last summer holiday was not quite as relaxing as it could have been.

There was no sunshine, swimming pools, beaches or cocktails.

Instead the former Stockton Heath resident spent his precious fortnight off work at Legal and General surrounded by the four walls of the smallest room in his flat.

By the end he was surrounded by printouts and McDonald’s takeaway packets but he came out of it with a novel.

“It was like a mad person’s room,” said Tom, who was inspired to write by his favourite authors F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jonathan Franzen.

“A lot of effort goes into it and I think that’s what I slightly underestimated.

“I’m into my words and literature so I did get fixated on every sentence to make sure the story ran as smoothly as possible.”

Tom, a former St Thomas’s CE Primary School pupil, started working on his story Being Simon Haines more than two years ago.

It is about a man in his early 30s who goes to Cuba to reconnect with his youth as he waits to find out if he will be made a millionaire partner of a law firm.

But Tom did not really think anything would come of it until the novel got positive feedback from a couple of literary agents.

He added: “That inspired to think: ‘You’re so close now, if you can take on board some of the criticisms it is worth pursuing’.

“At that point I got completely focused on getting it over the line.”

In the six months before the novel was handed in to his publishers at RedDoor, Tom worked from 8am to midnight on week days balancing his day job and writing commitments.

“You’ve always got this tension between the two,” said Tom.

“I had these two parallel lives. It was very exciting when RedDoor accepted the novel but it was a completely exhausting experience. I wouldn’t recommend it really.”

Tom’s novel also chronicles the rise of the current generation of young professionals and the uncertain world they exist in following the financial crash and the political change of the last few years.

He added: “It became a more serious and more realistic story in the end about people who are now in their late 20s and early 30s.

“It is about people making career choices and hankering after their youth and how that affects where they end up.

“Lots of people come down to London from all parts of the country and end up working very hard.

“The book is not against that because I think it would be very simplistic to have a novel that says it’s terrible and becomes a bit of a self-help book.

“But it developed over the past couple of years into this more directly relevant portrait of a person who’s quite realistic in terms of a depiction of someone who would come to London to work hard to make their money.”

‘Our parents’ generation just got on with it didn’t they?’

Tom Vaughan MacAulay

Tom keeps the story topical with the character looking back at things which have shaped his life – and many of ours.

He said: “He was a 16-year-old watching Tony Blair come into power with his mum.

“Then he sees the financial crisis and the Obama years. By the end of the end of the novel he’s talking about how everything’s changed like Brexit and Donald Trump in the White House.”

As a solicitor who has worked in both London and Milan since 2006, Tom often gets asked how many parallels there are between his life and Simon’s.

The 37-year-old added: “It’s quite funny because a lot of people have said: ‘Is this you?’

“I wouldn’t say there’s anything directly from my life that is in there but there are experiences I’ve had which have been fictionalised.

“It’s quite common from what I’ve read for first novels to be like that. It is all in the author’s imagination but equally I’ve had similar experiences in certain walks of life.

“It is very much of my generation. I often found a lot of people who weren’t satisfied in the city.

“A lot of people lack a sense of identity growing up. I think part of it is because we have so many options these days.

“Our parents’ generation just got on with it didn’t they?

“I think lawyers are the principle moaners generally. We are much more a generation that is aware of the alternatives out there.

“But sometimes that causes anxiety and confuses us more than if there hadn’t been those alternatives.

“Sometimes it’s not healthy to realise you could do anything.”

Being Simon Haines comes out today, Thursday, and Tom is now anxious to see what the public makes of it.

He said: “All my friends are very excited but we live in a strange world these days where anyone can make any comment about anyone they want on the internet.

“There was a bit in The Times about the book and that was a genuine shock to the system.

“Writing’s a very strange endeavour because you’re completely on your own with writing.

“It’s not like something you’re building where people can look and say: ‘It’s coming on well...’”