CLECKHEATON author Wendy Holden makes no secret of it: “The main character in my latest book is a nightmare version of me.”
Some admission considering the ‘heroine’ of Marrying Up is a ferocious social-climber aiming for the very pinnacle of the gold-digging tree!
“Alexa is similar to me in some ways, but I’m cured of social-climbing now,” says Wendy, the former Whitcliffe Mount Grammar School pupil who has become a best-selling writer.
In a recent national newspaper article, she recounts her youthful burning desire to ‘get to the top’. And she did.
From her childhood in Cleckheaton she went on to Cambridge University, jobs on national titles such as the Sunday Times and a regular slot in the best-sellers’ lists.
Now, though, she is content to write her novels from the summerhouse of the family home in Derbyshire – away from the heady social whirl of the early days.
“Alexa is a socially-ambitious girl from humble origins who claws her way to the top,” says Wendy, 46.
“The book was huge fun to write but I have stopped wanting to live this in reality.”
Indeed, she considers her ‘working class’ background as a positive boon.
“It is a very rich background to come from,” said Wendy, who is married with two children.
“Coming from Cleckheaton has been invaluable for me. And my education was fantastic. A great start.”
A biting satire of love, snobbery and ambition, Marrying Up is Wendy’s 11th book and she accepts it is, to some extent, semi-autobiographical.
“Most of my books are in some way or another,” she says.
”And social-climbing is a theme I have returned to several times. It’s a very ‘now’ subject and I hope it gives the people of Cleckheaton a laugh.”
For Wendy, writing is a joy.
“I get absorbed in developing the characters,” she says.
“There is always a point when I think it might not work and then something clicks and you know you are on the right lines.
“It’s a wonderful feeling and always a challenge. I am so lucky to be doing this for a living. Sometimes I can’t quite believe it.”
With her parents still living in Cleckheaton and a brother in Rastrick, Wendy visits this area quite often.
“I like to keep an eye on the place,” she says.
And that fond surveillance might just lead to a future book being set in this area.
“I am thinking about it,” says Wendy.
“It might feature my parents in some way. Vaguely. Writing about my home town, maybe I could be the new Catherine Cookson!”
l Marrying Up by Wendy Holden is published by Headline Review and is out now priced £12.99.