Following two deaths close to her in 2011, Melanie Blake decided it was time to make a career change and she hasn’t looked back. Now she is a self-made millionaire and a celebrity agent who has worked with some of the top soap stars to grace our TV screens.
Melanie, 45, says it was the death of her mum Mary in 2011, aged 52, and the loss of close friend that jolted her into pursuing her dream of becoming a writer. “I thought ‘oh my god I’m going to die and it’s not what I want to do’,” she told the Manchester Evening News.
In 2019 her first book Thunder Girls, about the rise and fall of a reunited 1980s girlband inspired by her time working in music management after working behind the scenes on Top Of The Pops, was published and it was made into a play starring Coronation Street’s Beverley Callard and Coleen Nolan.
Melanie, whose clients include Emmerdale icon Clare King, EastEnders legend Gillian Taylforth, Dynasty glamazon Stephanie Beacham, Coronation Street and EastEnders’ star Michelle Collins and Patsy Kensit, thought her first novel, which is now being re-released and written as a trilogy, would become her legacy after being made into a play derailed because of Covid-19. But in lockdown she went on to pen the glamorous bonkbuster thriller Ruthless Women, which became a number four Sunday Times hardback bestseller and an ebook bestseller in 2021, selling 250,000 copies and translated into eight languages.
She has now followed this with Guilty Women, her second novel about the cast of the fictional soap Falcon Bay. Melanie, who has put older women front and centre in her storytelling and in her work as an agent, is proud to be writing about a leading character who is 70, but is “having great sex and kicking a***”.
Melanie has defeated the odds to become a best-selling author after battling severe dyslexia and leaving school with no qualifications. At school she was told by teachers that she would never succeed.
“One teacher said ‘I don’t know why you’re bothering to submit stories at all, you’ll never write anything but the labels on the boxes for the factory you’re working in’,” she told us. “I don’t have a problem with people working in factories, but it just wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
Melanie says she was also kept from enrolling in a joined-up writing club and to this day it affects her at book signings. “I find book signings intimidating even though I’ve run successful companies for years,” she said.
Finally, in her 30s she was diagnosed with dyslexia. “I was working with a doctor on a TV programme and they said I had the worst form of it,” she said. “It means I have to work 10 times harder.”
Reflecting on her painful time at school while growing up in poverty she said: “We stood in line with a token to get food in front of the ‘normal’ kids like we were in Oliver. I was told I was an idiot and was stupid and would never go anywhere in life.
“When I was 15 I got work experience at Kingbee Records in Chorlton and it was held up as an example of what not to do. But two years later I was working on Top Of The Pops. I was working from when I was 12 years old and I had five jobs and I learned more working in shops than I did in school.”
Melanie says her novels, about the behind-the-scenes scandals on the drama Falcon Bay, shine a light on the world on TV. “It’s the closest you will come to what it’s like in real-life,” she said. “The catfights, the secret WhatsApp groups and the Mean Girls behaviour, and the men who don’t like the women they work with. There will be a soap MeToo. It takes just a couple of monsters to stalk the corridors and spoil the atmosphere.”
Melanie says she’s been approached to take part in numerous reality TV shows and has been asked to join the cast of The Real Housewives of Cheshire. “But I don’t crave fame myself,” she said.
She is now writing the next book in the Falcon Bay trilogy Vengeful Women with plans to make the books into a TV series, as well as two more Thunder Girls books including the prologue to their story. And there will be more novels about the world of daytime TV.
Melanie admits she’s put her life on hold to become a successful author, but she’s set herself a major life goal. “I want to be married and settled by the time I’m 50,” she said.
Guilty Women, published by HarperCollins, is now available to buy in hardback.
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