I knew about Trisha Ashley before I met her and we are agreed that we should have met well before we did because we had been living quite close by one another for some years. I went down to see my agent in London and she thrust in front of my face a wonderful new novel. Even then I don't think I realized that Trish was living just up the road from me.
She hails from Lancashire, you wouldn't know it when you meet her however as she is what we call in Durham 'git posh' when she speaks but you can tell by all that determination and sheer grit that she is a northerner through and through.
I was born in a little pit village up on the tops called Tow Law. Trish ended up living just outside Tow Law for several years. No wonder she did lots of writing, there isn't a great deal else to do except that she was working at the time - I mean a proper job. We finally met when she telephoned me - I think our agent gave her my number or something, we can't really remember now and I went and had coffee with her. Her house had a long back garden which gave way to the stupendous sight of the Durham fells. Later she moved to Lanchester where I was living and we used to meet very often. After that she moved to Wales. Yes, I know. How could anybody? Granted, Wales is okay and has decent beaches but really !
Trish moved on to satire. The book that she produced was shortlisted for the Constable Trophy for a first unpublished novel. She met Diane Pearson at a day conference and sent her the first person book because Diane was complaining about all the badly written first person books she had to read. She was very impressed with Trish's novel and sent it on to our agent who told her that it should be a romantic comedy. It became her first published novel, Good Husband Material and I am proud to say that I was there when the agent rang with the news that it had been accepted by Piatkus books. We were sitting, I think in the garden, at her house up on the fells.
While Trisha lived in Lanchester her marriage broke up and I got breast cancer. I tried to help her and she went to the RVI in Newcastle with me and was there when they told me I was ill. You don't get much better friends than that so I was gutted when she went home. Wales and Lancashire together are home to Trish, she remembers all the wonderful holidays she had in North Wales when she was a little kid.
Trish now has on her mantelpiece in Wales two prism shaped crystal awards and a glass star.
Twelve Days of Christmas is Trish's fourteenth novel and is set to take the world by storm this autumn and winter.
Trish is a credit to talent, perseverance and sheer bloody mindedness. She does not doubt herself. Like the rest of us she has been through a good deal in her life and there she is, drinking champagne ( she doesn't like anything else, be warned if you're paying! ) and showing the rest of the world how success is done.
And from Wales too, if you will.