Martina Cole speaks about new book and Barking and Dagenham

As Martina Cole gears up for a Q&A session in Broadway Theatre, the hugely successful author has spoken of her hotly anticipated latest novel and her Barking and Dagenham connections.

Martina, whose gritty and violent books sell in their millions, will be answering questions from the audience at the Barking theatre on October 4 as part of the borough’s Reading Festival.

The 53-year-old has published 19 novel over the past two decades, many set in the seedy under-world of east end London.

She wrote her first novel at the age 20, calling it Dangerous Lady, but put the manuscript in a kitchen cupboard and forgot about it. Ten years later she discovered her work, thought it was rather good, and contacted agent Darley Anderson.

Despite not quite believing a woman could write something quite so gritty, he phoned her back and offered her a a publishing deal.

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Twenty years on and Martina, who grew up on an estate in Enfield, has released her latest novel The Life.

“It’s a story about two gangster brothers,” she told the Post. “It’s all about betrayal.”

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Asked if she based the tale on a personal experience of betrayal, she said: “No, I never base anything on what has happened to me, it’s all made up. I just do a lot of research before hand.”

The mother-of-three is already working on her next release: “It’s a revenge story. Women like to get revenge - men get mad but women get even.”

Martina said many of her novels contain bits of Barking and Dagenham, including The Life, because, she explained: “I know the borough like the back of my hand.”

“I’ve never lived there, but I’ve always had family and friends in Barking and Dagenham, so grew up visiting the area. I remember hanging out at the Heathway a lot when I was young - later I was a regular in the pubs, like the Bull, The Ship and Shovel and the Cherry Tree.

“I’ve loved spending time there and still visit when I can. The people are fabulous.”

She believes readers in the borough can identify with her stories: “My books are generally based in working class areas with big estates, so people from Barking and Dagenham can recognise elements of what I have written,” she said.

An Audience with Martina Cole starts at 7pm and costs �5 (concessions �3). Call the box office on 020 8507 5607 or go to

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