Martina Cole first made headlines in 1992, when her debut novel 'Dangerous Lady' was bought for a then record-breaking advance and became an instant bestseller. Twenty-two years and twenty-one novels later, Martina Cole is the acknowledged queen of crime drama. Her most recent novel 'The Good Life', went straight to No. 1 on the Sunday Times Hardback Fiction Bestseller List - her 13th consecutive No 1. Several of Martina's novels have been adapted for the screen, most recently 'The Take' and 'The Runaway' which were shown on Sky 1 to remarkable reviews. In addition, 'Two Women' and 'The Graft' have been adapted for the stage; both were highly acclaimed when performed at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, which also staged Dangerous Lady in 2012, celebrating twenty years since Martina's debut novel was published.
Martina Cole is a phenomenon. She continues to smash sales records with each of her books, which have sold thirteen million copies in total. In 2011 Martina surpassed the £50 million sales mark since records began and was the first British female novelist for adult audiences to achieve this.
Martina now has success and all the rewards that entails, but she knows she is lucky, and despite her many work commitments makes time for issues she feels strongly about. As a result of her novel Two Women she's a Patron of Chelmsford Safer Places and in 2007 became an Ambassador for Gingerbread. Reading is a huge part of Martina's life, and since 2014 she has been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency's Six Book Challenge, whose aim is to encourage less confident adult readers develop a love of reading, and Martina frequently meets participants at events in workplaces, prisons and libraries.
"It is my pleasure to read the Citation for Martina Cole, for the award of Honorary Doctor of Letters.
Martina Cole is an author who is unique in literary circles. She's lived a life writing crime fiction that has, in places, been as 'gritty, gripping and unforgettable' as her actual novels.
Once described by a journalist covering the Financial Mail's Women's Forum as the 'platinum blond with the razor-sharp wit' she has risen to fame, according to the same writer, 'by transporting hard-hitting criminals, prostitutes, violence and a double helping of emotional punch, directly into people's living rooms.' And for this reason alone, she will have captured the hearts and minds of Anglia Ruskin University's budding creative writers, some of whom are eager to set out on the same literary career trail.
She has written over 14 best-selling novels with very punchy titles including, Faces, Close, The Graft, The Know, Maura's Game, Faceless, Broken, Two Women, The Runaway, The Jump, The Take and others. Her overarching mantra, if you want it bad enough - take it, is simple to understand and her fans are growing to know and love her, and her characters, more with each and every novel offering.
Martina cites a programme on Jackie Collins as being instrumental in the planning of her own success as an author. A teenager at the time, she imagined seeing her own name on the covers of books - which was a nice dream to have. But of course, life is not as easy as that. You do, indeed, sometimes have to 'Graft'.
Born in 1958 into a large Irish Catholic family, Martina was brought up in Aveley, Essex. She attended a convent school until she was expelled at the age of 15 and by 17 Martina was pregnant. She like her characters, redeems her life but not immediately. It was in Essex, where so many of her fans live today, that she started writing. At just aged 20, writing was something she fitted around her 'other' not insignificant job of raising a young child. Little did she know then that it would lead her into a very different life.
Martina's first manuscript stayed in a drawer for a decade until someone told her that when you're old ... 'it's the things you didn't do you regret, not the things you did.' So she picked out an agent who had a 'nice' name, Darley Anderson, and assumed from this romantic name that he was a woman. He wasn't but he loved her sharp and direct style of writing, and phoned her to tell her that she was going to be a star.
With her first £150,000 publishing deal and many more books to come he could have mentioned that fact that she was already well on the way to becoming one of the UK's most successful writers. This is not at all bad for an author who admitted to The Observer in an interview entitled 'What I Know about men ...' that her first boyfriend was a bank robber. While this fact didn't thrill her mother, it gave her a head start in the great experience we call life and unlimited potential for the sourcing of material for her brilliant stories. In the same interview, she explains: 'A lot of men say to me I'm the only woman they know who can write good men.' And she admits,'That's because I understand them.' She also understands women and advises them to look after themselves and their finances if they want to remain in control of their own destiny.
For someone who writes about crime and violence, she is fiercely anti-violence, working with organisations such as Chelmsford Women's Aid to help them raise awareness about some of the issues that are raised in her books. With her accumulated wisdom about both sexes and her unique honest writing style, it is hardly surprising that Martina Cole novels go straight to No.1 in the Sunday Times book listings on first publication, and that we are celebrating her success as an Essex writer, writing about Essex people with this hugely deserved honorary award.
Martina Cole, I hereby invite the Vice Chancellor to confer upon you the award of Honorary Doctor of Letters."