Melanie Blake by Nicky Johnston, Guilty Women

Melanie Blake by Nicky Johnston, Guilty Women

1. I never dreamed I would ever be successful as an author. After having such a brilliant career as a showbiz agent for twenty years I had almost given up on my original dream of writing but when I turned 40 I decided it was worth one last shot. I got a manuscript of a book that I’d written before I became an agent which had been turned down by 20 publishers, re-wrote it, decided to give it one last go and it was a top 10 bestseller – so proving that it’s never too late to try again at your true passion.

2. After having the success with that novel which was called The Thunder Girls at 40, I decided to turn it into a stage play which premiered at the prestigious Lowry Theatre in Manchester. Despite lots of male promoters telling me no-one would want to see it because it featured four women over 50 it broke every box office record for a new work and because of that success it was picked up to become a national tour. It had already taken 2 million in pre-orders at the box office just before the Covid pandemic arrived meaning we had to cancel the show. I lost a lot of money as I decided to promote it myself and then Covid shut down the arts altogether and for the first time in 20 years I didn’t have any work to do because none of our acts were working, not even in the soaps. It was the first time in my adult life that I had ever had any time off and I didn’t know what to do with myself.

3. I had decided that The Thunder Girls was going to be my one and only book and play. I was happy to be a one hit wonder and I would continue on as an agent as it was perfect as I could put my clients in the production and not really disrupt my life. This is something that people do not know as I’ve never spoken about it.

4. Ruthless Women would not exist without the Covid pandemic, after seven weeks of sitting around watching tv and box sets like the rest of the nation one day I was chatting to ex-EastEnder Carol Harrison and Emmerdale’s Claire King moaning that I had nothing to do when they both suggested that I write another book. I based my first one on my previous career working in the music industry so it made sense if I was going to write another book that I would use the background of representing soap actresses and being on the set of dramas which was what I’d been doing for the last two decades. Almost overnight the ideas, characters and plot came to me and the next day I started a marathon writing session 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for 7 weeks and then it was finished. Unsure how it would be received I was blown away that a book I never intended to write would end up being not only a Sunday Times bestseller but a bestseller all around the world and translated into 10 languages and has sold over 300,000 copies so far.

5. My latest book Guilty Women I also had to write fast, because of the success of Ruthless the publishers wanted a follow-up almost immediately but by then the world was open again, I’d returned to my day job so I had to spend almost all night writing and all day working. By some miracle I managed to do it in 12 weeks and was thrilled and surprised by how much everybody loved it and a third book of the series has already been commissioned meaning that I’ll be the author of a trilogy, something I would never have imagined.

6. Nobody knows but it’s actually my face on the cover of Ruthless Women not stock photography as is normal and it’s also my hand on the cover of Guilty Women. When I’m in a shop and I see it, I get a kick out of the fact that nobody knows it’s really me as authors normally only appear on the back.

7. I am severely dyslexic meaning I have to work three times as hard to get what I want down on paper. My dyslexia means the letters come out of my brain in the wrong order so if it wasn’t for spellcheck on computers I wouldn’t be writing at all. My handwriting really embarrasses me and when I do book signings I can’t control it so I always explain to whoever I’m dedicating a book to that it won’t be neat and tidy but it will be signed with love.

About Guilty Women

Can they get away with MURDER?

On a beautiful island off the English coast, four TV actresses gather. Their fifth member is missing – and only they know why she was killed.

As the secret between them threatens to come out, tensions on set run high.

The women are determined that the show must go on – whatever the cost.

But one of them is on the edge of telling the truth – and no soap opera in the world could survive this scandal…

All of the women have something to hide – but the question is, are they ALL GUILTY?

RELATED: Melanie Blake on her struggle to get The Thunder Girls published, and the hit stage show [EXCLUSIVE]

RELATED: Review: Ruthless Women by Melanie Blake