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A novel in letters – from 12 year old Maud (and 42 year old Maud) to her favourite pop star

1981
We meet Maud, a lonely confused 12-year-old girl living on an estate in Preston with her dysfunctional parents and her elder brother.

As Maud’s family fall apart at the seams she reaches out to her favourite pop star Tom Harding of punk rock band Horsefly, the only person she thinks will understand everything she is going through and who might just have the answers to her many, many questions.

2011
We find Tom Harding at the beginning of a campaign trail for his new solo single but his manager doesn’t have Tom’s best interests at heart and the stunts he’s asked to pull to get publicity become more and more bleak.

Meanwhile Maud is 20 years into a marriage that has become miserable.

She gets some good news though, her best friend’s husbands friend has just fitted Tom Harding’s new stair carpet and Tom’s email address is passed on to Maud.

So once again, after 30 years, Maud begins to write to Tom

Zena Barrie lives in Manchester and runs The Greater Manchester Fringe and the Camden Fringe. She ran the Kings Arms pub and Theatre in Salford for a while and also The Etcetera Theatre in Camden as well as working in a wide variety of roles at The Edinburgh Fringe.


In the 90’s she did a degree in Drama and Theatre Arts specialising in playwriting.


Up until recently she has been co-hosting the award winning spoken word night Verbose.
This is her first novel. She writes lots of twisted short stories too.

Dear Tom,

My name is Maud Harrison, I’m 12 years old, 13 next week so I might as well say I’m 13 (a teenager) I live in Preston, not in the centre where all the shops are, but in a place called Hutton, it’s basically just lots of houses. I’m a really big fan of your band (Horsefly) and of you in particular (as you are the songwriter and I get a LOT from the songs) (life information and feelings). I read in Smash Hits that you collect thimbles since your Great Grandma left you some in her will. How did she die? (I hope it’s not hereditary).

I have enclosed the thimble from my mums sewing box, she doesn’t use it, (I’ve never seen her use it anyway) I hope it fits. Your hands are probably bigger than my Mums. Do you have big hands? I’ve wrapped it in toilet roll (it’s clean).

I’ve enclosed a stamped addressed envelope (an SAE). Please could you send me your autograph and post it to me in the SAE (stamped addressed envelope)?

I really like the trousers you were wearing in Sounds Magazine last month. I only have one pair of trousers and they are flared which is really embarrassing and they’re too short for me because I have grown (I am now the same height as a naturally short woman or a woman who has suffered stunted growth due to poor health). I can still get in them because I don’t have any hips yet.

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