Multi-million selling author Martina Cole heads to HMP Pentonville - but this time her books haven’t been stolen

Top author Martina Cole, ambassador of Six Book Challenge, visits HMP Pentonville

Top author Martina Cole, ambassador of Six Book Challenge, visits HMP Pentonville - Credit: Archant

Multi-million selling author Martina Cole headed to HMP Pentonville to promote reading among inmates – and revealed her books are the most read, and stolen, in prisons.

The novelist – who has sold more than 13 million copies of her crime dramas – headed to the jail as part of the Six Book Challenge, an initiative to get people into reading for pleasure.

And the writer said convicts at Pentonville were going great guns with the challenge, thanks in no small part to the great work of the hardworking prison librarian.

Ms Cole said: “It was fantastic, I got a great reception. I generally do at prisons, but this was particularly good.

“A lot of people said they didn’t enjoy reading and writing at school, so it’s great to get people back in to the enjoyment of reading.

“So many came to see me and seemed genuinely interested in the process of writing and asked some seriously interesting questions.

“Mona, the librarian, is amazing – a lot of this is down to her.

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“The average sentence in Pentonville is just 50 days, so that’s all the time she has to work on them.

“Yet she’s managed to get 300 of them to pass the challenge.”

The initiative, which Ms Cole is an ambassador for, was set up eight years ago to encourage less confident or lapsed readers to pick any six reads of their choice – magazine, newspaper or online articles, song lyrics, poems or comics as well as books – and record their reading in a diary to receive a certificate.

Last year it reached more 40,000 people.

“They asked me to be an ambassador and I’ll do anything to promote reading,” said Ms Cole.

“I am a voracious reader – I read about 120 books this summer.

“For me its so important being able to read and enjoy it. But for people doing long sentences it must be even more so,

“Reading can take you anywhere. When I was young I always used reading as escapism – it was an escape from my room and it can take you anywhere – to the moon or under the sea.”

The writer, who has notched up more than £50million in books sales, says her tomes are popular among inmates in more ways than one.

“My books tend to be the most popular at prison libraries – and the most stolen.

“I went to one prison in Scotland and every single copy of my books had gone.

“I take it as a compliment though.”

Ms Cole’s 22nd book – The Good Life – was published last week.