'I'll set the next best seller I write in Doncaster'

Jacqui Rose, bestselling author from Doncaster
Jacqui Rose, bestselling author from Doncaster

She's sold some 500,000 books - and it was all predicted by her Doncaster teacher in the 1980s.

Today, 47-year-old Jacqui Rose is a bestselling writer, who has just published her latest novel - and she has promised the next one she writes will have a Doncaster setting.

Jacqui Rose, bestselling author from Doncaster. Submit from Jacqui Rose

Jacqui Rose, bestselling author from Doncaster. Submit from Jacqui Rose

But back in the days when she was a pupil at St Michael's C of E Primary School in Rossington, she still remembers how one of the teachers recognised her potential.

Jacqui move to London in her early 20s, and had her first novel published in in 2012. Since then she has gone on to write a succession of books, with the seventh, Toxic, published by HarperCollins this month.

But she told the Free Press how she had a tough time growing up in Rossington as the only mixed race child in her class in the late 70s and early 80s.

She said: "I came to Rossington aged a year and a half. I was born in Manchester, adopted in Durham, and mum parents moved to South Yorkshire.

"I was mixed heritage, and there was a lot of racism in those days. As a result of that I got sent to boarding school when I got to secondary school age.

"It's changed now, but in those days I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was isolated, I used to try to scrub my skin white and stay out of the sun. There was always someone saying something about the colour of my skin. I hated who I was.

"But writing was my salvation. Even as a little girl, I realised that in my stories, I could create my own worlds, where what I wanted to happen would happen.

"There was one teacher at St Michael, but sadly I can't remember her name now. She used to read my stories and say to me 'you're going to go and write a best seller'. If I could see her now I would just give her a big hug - sometimes a hug speaks louder than words.

"I don't feel bitter towards the people who bullied me. If could I'd just like to gently tell them how much they hurt me. But it didn't break me, it made me stronger and allowed me to achieve what I have done."

But Jacqui does have fond memories of her childhood in Doncaster, particularly learning to ride at Finningley Riding School. She loved horses and used to work at the riding school, mucking out the stables in exchange for riding lessons later in the day.

"Being brought up in Doncaster gave me a real love of horses," she said. "When I was at school, they used to give us the day off to go to the St Leger. I can't imaging that would happen now. I used to go and speak to the horse owners at the Grand St Leger and ask if I could see the horses."

She left Doncaster in her early 20s, and enrolled in drama school, only to find that it was not what she wanted to. During her time in London, she became a mother, and brought her daughter up in the capital.

She started teaching drama voluntarily and writing workshops for prisoners, ex-offenders and the homeless, helping them develop and create their own plays but it was several years before Jacqui herself wrote again.

She also wrote a number of novels, leading to a friend suggesting she tried to get them published.

She contacted and agent, and was told that her books were not suitable, because they were set in the north. Instead, she wrote a crime story, called Taken, set in Soho - which was snapped up by a publisher. That led to a second book, and then a contract for another four. After taking a break, she signed another contact last year to do two books a year.

Toxic is the first of those three.

Her books feature a number of regular fictional characters including Alfie Jennings, who has appeared in all of them, Alfie's wing man Vaughn Saddler, former prostitute Lola Harding and tough girl Franny Doyle. They are character driven.

They all deal with issues, including abuse and grief.

Although the first book was set in Soho, others have been in other locations, including Islamabad, Spain and Ireland.

After more than 20 years in London, she is keen to move back to Yorkshire in the future.

But her fictional world has not visited Doncaster - yet.

"I will base one in Doncaster," she said. "I've just published the latest one, and the next is written. I think the third one should have a northern setting. People don't care now where they are set, it doesn't have to be London. I promise I will put a Doncaster link in there - that would be coming out in summer 2019."