Daily Express

I look all right but I might go upstairs later and cry

Four months after the death of her beloved Bob, the bestsellin­g author talks about putting a brave face on losing the love of her life

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there to be a journalist’. She told me, ‘Keep your head down and do your work. If one of them invites you out and he’s single you go, but no married men’.”

There was one great love before Bob, another American who wanted to whisk her off to the States. Looking back on her early writing, Barbara realises many of her strong women were based on herself.

“When AWOS was first published, women were portrayed as either prostitute­s or madonnas,” she says.“That’s why I chose to write about a real woman.”

So would she have enjoyed quite so much success without Bob?

“Perhaps not. He wore the pants, he ruled the roost, he was very manly and masculine. He gave me the space to write.When I was writing he’d often come along and knock and say, ‘Close your shop, it’s 7pm’.”

Plans were revealed this week for a prequel to

A Woman Of Substance, set five years earlier and focusing on Emma’s companion, Blackie O’Neill.

She describes the idea as a “gift from Bob” because the novel, Blackie and Emma, was conceived when he was in the hospital and she was looking for a project that would involve less intensive research.

“I was worried the research would be hard after Bob’s death,”

she admits.

“Then I suddenly thought: Blackie O’Neill. We never know much about him. He’s always in the first book but we never know what his private life is.”

Barbara laughs: “So I re-read all seven Emma books and I didn’t remember writing half of them. I wondered, ‘Why do I always worry about my books? They’re fabulous’. I know they work because I’m a best-selling author but…”

She hasn’t written a word of the prequel yet – but is busy plotting it in her head – and laughs off any thoughts of retirement with a “what would I do?”

While she remains a supporter of the #MeToo campaign against sexual abuse and harassment and applauds the bravery of the early accusers of disgraced movie mogul

Harvey Weinstein, she worries that the campaign has gone too far.

“Weinstein was a very powerful man if vulgar and also somewhat demented to do what he did,” she says.

“It’s a play of power against somebody who can’t defend themselves because you can’t always kick a man in the balls which is what I would do if someone tried it on me.

“I do think #MeToo seems to have gone a bit too far. I know many decent men who are single or widowed who are now afraid to be alone with a woman.

“Any woman can accuse a man of anything and you’re immediatel­y ruined. I don’t know what the answer is.”

She adds quietly: “Men don’t like to be alone with women any more.”

Stridently patriotic, she insists on using her British passport when travelling to the UK despite having US citizenshi­p. Though she doesn’t have a vote, she is supportive of Boris Johnson and Brexit.

She says: “I get all the British papers every day and I can’t bear Mr Corbyn. I think they should go somewhere and find that grave they dug him out of... and put him back in.”

ON BREXIT she says: “We’re a sovereign nation, we have a monarch, we have houses of Parliament, we have representa­tives of all the constituen­cies, so why does Brussels overrule the decisions of Great Britain?

“We are a great nation, we ruled the world in Victorian times, and we can be a great nation again if we get this right. The EU really don’t want us to leave because of all those billions we give them!”

She is a staunch supporter of the military and incensed at the historic prosecutio­n of British troops who served abroad.

“The witch hunt against soldiers is going to ruin the country. I’m infuriated the way veterans are treated, they have gone to defend Queen and country and then they get sued,” she says.

Her guilty reading pleasures are thrillers by the likes of Jack Reacher creator Lee Child and US writer Daniel Silva. “I always want the bad guys to get their just deserts,” she confides.

●●In The Lion’s Den by Barbara Taylor Bradford (HarperColl­ins, £16.99) is published on November 28. For free UK delivery, call Express Bookshop on 01872 562310, or send a cheque/PO payable to Express Bookshop: BTB Offer, PO Box 200, Falmouth TR11 4WJ or visit expressboo­kshop. co.uk. A Woman of Substance (40th anniversar­y edition) is also available at £8.99.

 ?? Picture: ROBIN MARCHANT/GETTY, BRADFORD ENTERPRISE­S ?? GLAMOUR: Barbara’s looks belie her 86 years
Picture: ROBIN MARCHANT/GETTY, BRADFORD ENTERPRISE­S GLAMOUR: Barbara’s looks belie her 86 years
 ??  ?? LOVE OF HER LIFE: Barbara with late husband Bob. Her debut novel, left, has reached its 40th anniversar­y
LOVE OF HER LIFE: Barbara with late husband Bob. Her debut novel, left, has reached its 40th anniversar­y
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