UK Police Help Recover Blind Woman's Novel

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Person holding pen, close-up of hand and object, (B&W)

LONDON -- Trish Vickers decided to put pen to paper to satisfy what she calls an "imagination that runs riot."

First, she tried poetry. When that wasn't enough, the 59-year-old Englishwoman started a novel. A novel about tenacity; its protagonist, not unlike the author, faces terrible hardship – and overcomes it thanks to a new village and new friends.

Vickers had just finished a "prolific" week of writing – 26 pages, almost twice her output at her usual best, she said. Excitedly, she called her son so he could read what she'd written. When he arrived to take a look at her work, he was forced to tell his mother that the worst had happened: the pen had failed her.

It literally failed – ran out of ink. No problem for most first-time novelists. But seven years ago Vickers lost her sight to diabetes; she writes longhand without being able to see the ink on the page. She has always had faith that what she'd imagined would be there, in blue ink, on her papers.

"I was absolutely gutted," she told ABC News in a phone conversation. "For a moment, I remember saying, well, nothing can be done about it. Don't get upset darling, I told my son. But then I thought" – and here she makes a sound between a cry and a sigh – "and I just walked up to him and asked, could I have a cuddle?"

That's usually the end of the story. A crashed hard drive that contained three chapters never to be read again. A burned manuscript that hadn't been typed out before turning to ash.

But Vickers, who lives alone, said she and her son "put our sensible heads on and thought, how can we actually get this back?"

They ran through ideas – "what about fingerprint dust?" -- and rejected each one, until she suggested they call the police for help. She didn't know anyone there, but thought that they might get lucky.

"And to my amazement, they said, 'We've got a few possible ways we can maybe try and get them back for you," she recalled a police officer telling her. "'If we can help, we will,'" the officer told them.

And so Kerry Savage and another colleague at the Dorset Police Department spent their lunch breaks shining a light onto Vickers' papers. And sure enough, they could make out the words she thought she had written.

"We found that using a crime light, which is a high intensity light source, which you shine onto the pages and it enhances the shadows made by the indentations of the [pen]" Savage told the BBC.

"The elation when I got it back was fabulous," Vickers recalled, her strong laugh resonating over the phone. "These wonderful police people came to my rescue. I'm so grateful."

As for her manuscript, Vickers is still working out where her story will go next.

"I've got a bit of an idea of what the next stage is coming up in the story," she said. "So I've just got to get words sorted in my head and then it will go down on paper."

And there she pauses and laughs. "Hopefully."