I was very young when I ran away from home to London’s Soho. I’d read about the life there and it seemed edgy, risky, exciting – and it was. I made friends with a girl called Joanna and together we trawled the nightclubs there – places like Raymond’s Revue Bar and the glamorous, outrageous Windmill. It was one night in the Windmill when I met the dangerously attractive gangster who would become the leading man in all my Annie Carter novels. He was elegantly dressed, black-haired, tanned, with hard dark blue eyes and a piratical hook of a nose. I was instantly smitten with him, and he was obviously just as smitten with Joanna! I never got a look-in. But if I was a loser in love I was a winner in the long run. I never forgot him, and he lives on in many of my books, as Max Carter, gang lord and Annie’s main love interest.
In Soho, I may have trawled the glamorous hot spots by night, but during the day, with no qualifications and no skills, I had to make a living the hard way. It wasn’t much of a living at all, really.
My first job was in a fish and chip shop, where the greasy air of the place brought my face out in large red splodges so I had to quit.
My second was in a deli, where I cut my hand on a bacon slicer while cleaning it and had to be hospitalized. Then came the third, washing pots in a restaurant, which wasn’t bad – until I developed eczema from the washing-up liquid when I put my bare hands in it. Then I used rubber gloves and all was fine, until I got an allergic reaction to the rubber.
At that point, I decided hard work wasn’t for me. I decided I would become a writer.