I grew up in Gloucester, in the west of England, during the nineteen-seventies, with my wonderful parents Ann and Don, my sister Kate and a variety of pets including Ben the dog and Olivia Newton John the goldfish. I attended the High School For Girls, otherwise known as Denmark Road, in the city centre. I was always among the last to be picked for the netball team and knew all the best places to stop for a nice sit-down on the cross-country running route. Fortunately, I wasn’t quite so rubbish at English.
How I became a writer
Encouraged my by English teacher, Mrs. Pocock, I published my first short story in Just Seventeen when I was fourteen years old. The story was called ‘Whatever happened to the wonderful boy I fell in love with’ and I published it under the pseudonym ‘Carolyn Lane’ because it largely consisted of a transcript of an argument I’d had with my boyfriend. I bought a black denim jacket from C & A with the proceeds.
I continued to contribute short stories to Just Seventeen to help pay my way through university. I studied Experimental Psychology at St Edmund Hall in Oxford. Alas, I devoted rather too much time to my social life and staggered away with an unimpressive 2:2. In retrospect, that 2:2 saved my life. It meant that none of the graduate training schemes I had hoped to join would have me. I wouldn’t become an accountant after all. I moved to London and took a series of temp jobs to support myself. It was while I was working at Prelude Audio Books, a company which took erotic ‘classics’ and put them on tape, that I met my first real novelist: David Garnett.
David is a very well respected science fiction writer, who once dabbled with writing erotica under the name Angelique. Prelude was recording the Angelique novels. One afternoon, David spent a couple of hours sitting on my desk, waiting for my boss to come back from a very long publishing lunch to discuss some unpaid royalties. I told David I’d always wanted to be a writer. He dared me to write a novella like Angelique’s. A few weeks later, I handed him my first full-length manuscript. David cast his experienced eye over my scribblings, helped me tweak it and then passed it on to his editor at Little Brown. Incredibly, she made an offer on it. My dream of becoming a proper writer was reborn.
That first book was called ‘Inspiration’. It centred on the sexual shenanigans of a group of artists in St Ives. Wary of embarrassing my parents, I published ‘Inspiration’ as Stephanie Ash. Four more Stephanie Ash novellas followed, helping me to pay my rent and attract the attention of a literary agent. In 1997, I published my first Chris Manby novel, ‘Flatmates’…
Sixteen novels on the single life later, I’ve just published ‘A Proper Family Holiday’ as ‘Chrissie Manby’ (apparently too many people were under the impression that I am a bloke!). I’ve also published three bonkbusters as Olivia Darling and an erotic trilogy as Stella Knightley.
I live in London and when I’m not writing (in fact, even when I’m supposed to be writing) I spend an awful lot of time on Twitter. Follow me on @chrissiemanby.