#1 Martina’s first name is actually Eilidh, which is Gaelic and means ‘light’.
#2 One of Martina’s most treasured possessions is a Wurlitzer jukebox from the fifties that she bought in East London. Martina bought the jukebox as a treat after one of her books went to number one in the chart, and enjoys spontaneous jamming sessions with her daughter Freddie-Mary. Particularly to David Bowie.
#3 Martina was 21 years old when she started working on the manuscript of what would become her debut novel Dangerous Lady. For almost a decade though, she didn’t do anything with it. She daydreamed about being a successful author, but didn’t have the confidence to act on it . But when she was thirty she decided to devote herself seriously to writing a full-length novel, she dug out the manuscript of Dangerous Lady, completed it in eighteen months and sent it off to an agent. It was sold to Headline for a then record-breaking advance for an unpublished author of £150,000.
#4 Martina likes to write all her stories on pen and paper in longhand!
#5 Martina has her own library within her Essex Tudor mansion, keeping around 800 books neatly stacked. She collects first editions of her favourite books and so her shelves include a first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird and Grapes of Wrath. She also believes that her library is haunted by a ghost (presumably one with very good taste in books!).
#6 Martina Cole is known to keep chickens which she calls collectively ‘my gels’. Each have individual names including Miss Snowflake and Tom Cruise.
#7 Martina is a self-confessed fan of bad boys and her first boyfriend was a bank robber! She has been married twice but now prefers her independence, claiming ‘I like a man, I just couldn’t eat a whole one’.
#8 Roman Catholicism was important in Martina’s upbringing and she is a believer in God. Martina has a large collection of rosaries, including one which dates back to the Middle Ages!
#9 Martina’s Holy Cross convent school expelled her aged 15 for being caught reading Harold Robbin’s The Carpetbaggers; a book controversial for its sex and violence. Martina left school with no qualifications and was told she would never amount to anything. The one subject she loved was English, and it was her English teacher, who told her if she put her mind to it , she had a future in writing.
#10 Martina enjoys cooking and even makes her own jams.
#11 Before she became a millionaire, Martina would sleep on the kitchen floor of her council flat so that her son could have the only bed.
#12 Martina is a West Ham Utd fan and attended the last game played at the Boleyn ground
#13 Martina fell pregnant with her first son – Chris – at 18 years old. When she told her parents, her mother was very angry and upset, but her father found it funny and wanted to take her down the pub to celebrate.
#14 When Martina was a little girl, she wanted to grow up to be a librarian. She absolutely loved reading as a child and was a book fanatic. To this day she still reads a book a week when she is writing, and a book a day when she’s not.
#15 She also wanted to be a nun at one point, but claims that she swore too much.
#16 Martina is very passionate about art and owns a Picasso (Lady in a Hat), Renoir (a painting of Monet’s nieces) and an Andy Warhol (pink Marilyn).
#17 Martina has a second home in Cyprus and spends several months of the year living there. She also owns bookshops there in Kakakum and Alsancak.
#18 Before becoming a published author, Martina would write Mills & Boon style romances for her neighbours in exchange for cigarettes.
#19 Martina grew up on the fringes of the world of organised crime, and infamous gangsters such as the Kray brothers were regular faces in her area. She is good friends with ex-gangster Eddie Richardson, and she often asks him for advice for characters in her books.
#20 Martina’s book are renowned for being the most requested books in the prison library system and she’s an advocate for improving prisoner’s literacy levels.
#21 Martina still has the same agent, publisher, publicist as she did 25 years ago.
#22 Martina is a night owl and only needs four hours sleep.
#23 Martina was a punk rocker in the early 70’s and loved going to gigs in Camden, including Dire Staits and David Bowie. In 2010 she launched her own record label called Hostage Music!
#24 Martina had Betty Boop tattooed on her shoulder for her 40th birthday.
#25 Authors, interviewers and friends often describe Martina as generous, modest and engaging with a laugh that immediately endears her.