A BEST-selling author is among a series of special guest speakers who have helped get the new academic year off to a flying start at Wigan and Leigh College.

Popular crime novelist Keith Houghton took time out from writing his latest book to speak to the college’s beauty students about the importance of English and maths.

The author of the Gabe Quinn thriller series, who lives in Leigh, also talked about his unconventional route to success.

Louise Gray, divisional manager of beauty at Wigan and Leigh College said: “Many people aren’t aware of the importance of English and maths for a successful career in beauty.

“English is important for marketing and consultations and maths must be used to calculate profits, for example.

“Once students reach Level 4 and degree level English skills become even more paramount within the course and mathematics and a business mind are vital skills to hold in the industry.

“Keith also demonstrated that there are many different routes to success. Many of our beauty students go on to set up their own businesses so Keith offered valuable insight into going it alone and how he promotes himself.”

After being rejected by publishers, Keith self-published his books through Kindle Direct Publishing and has now sold more than 310,000 copies worldwide, topped Amazon International Best Seller lists and received more than 900 five-star reviews.

“I wanted to highlight where good English and maths skills have contributed to my career and also explain that despite my thirty-year struggle to get published I never gave up on my dream,” said Keith.

“It was our hope to demonstrate that through hard work, determination and stamina anything is achievable, and that a good understanding of English and maths is an essential foundation from which to build any career, especially one geared around self-employment.”

Mandy Gaffey, a make-up artist and hair stylist at BBC Media City, also gave a talk to specialist media make-up students on how they can break into the industry.