Kirsty Young talks to novelist Martina Cole.
Martina Cole is a British crime writer, known to her fans as the Queen of Crime.
Martina has written 24 novels, 15 of which have topped the original fiction sales charts - more than any other author. She has sold more than 16 million books around the world, and her work has been translated into 29 languages. She also works in prisons, leading reading schemes and writing workshops for prisoners.
Martina grew up in Essex, the youngest of five children born to Irish parents. She was expelled from her convent school at 15 for reading a book by Harold Robbins. She married at 16, divorced at 17 and then had a baby at the age of 18. She wrote stories and scripts in her spare time to amuse herself, whilst taking on a series of low-paid jobs, including cleaning, waitressing, stacking shelves and leafletting.
At the age of 31, she re-discovered one of her early attempts at a novel, and decided to send it to an agent. She chose Darley Anderson from the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook because she liked the sound of the name. He quickly contacted her and told her she would be a star. He was right: she received an advance of £150,000, then a record for a first time novelist. She has written a best-selling crime novel almost every year ever since.
Presenter: Kirsty Young
Producer: Sarah Taylor.