The former actress and Blue Peter presenter, Janet Ellis has secured a book deal believed to be worth a five-figure sum. Fifty-nine-year-old Ellis has produced a gothic novel entitled “The Butcher’s Hook”, which is unlikely to appeal to a children’s audience as it includes violence and abuse in its storyline. However, the change of career path is amazing, given that her new direction only began to take shape thanks to a writing course she enrolled on last year.

The new novel is part of a two-book deal that has been secured for Ellis with the publisher “Two Roads”.

Admirably however, she seems keen to avoid any favouritism that might be proffered by using her own name on the book’s cover. For “The Butcher’s Hook” she has used a pseudonym instead, taking her grandmother’s name of Jo Winter.

CBC’s alumni have been hugely successful

Clearly inspired by the three-month writing course provided by Curtis Brown Creative, the former children’s favourite had already completed the opening 10,000 words of her publication while she was still studying. She became the 16th alumnus from CBC to secure a publishing deal, an impressive endorsement for the standard of the courses they offer and the authors they are inspiring.

Intriguing plot for the novel

Instead of writing a book concerned with her time on the famous children’s show, Ellis has opted for a far more adult theme to form the cornerstone of her first novel.

The basic narrative takes the reader to 18th century London for an emotional coming-of-age tale. Anne Jaccob is taken advantage of by her tutor and that, in addition to other experiences in her youth, provides the backdrop to her future life. Hope seems to appear in the form of a butcher’s boy called Fub but their ongoing relationship becomes violent.

Two Roads’ internet site refers to the novel as “a dark and fabulous story” which is due to be published next February. Clearly delighted by their latest writer, they refer to Ellis as an “all round excellent person.”

Author’s viewpoint

Ellis liked the idea of the story “being told through the viewpoint of a 19-year-old girl”.

Although the period adopted for the book is in stark contrast to the current day, she added that people have “always loved, suffered, laughed and cried” just as we do today.

Famous pop star daughter

Ellis is the celebrity mother of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, the popstar who had record success with such hits as “Murder on the Dancefloor” and the chart-topper “Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)”. Her son from her second marriage, Jackson Ellis-Leach is a former child actor, turned drummer.

However, Ellis was a children’s television star in her own right thanks to her time on Blue Peter and Jigsaw in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. Avid Doctor Who fans may also remember her featuring in the story “The Horns of Nimon” alongside the legendary Tom Baker.