Helen Black

Helen Black

Helen Black grew up among a large extended family in Pontefract, a small town in West Yorkshire. Her Dad was a miner, her Mum worked in local shops.

At 18 she went to Hull University where she went to gigs and drank a lot of lager. Three years later she left with holes in her Doc Martins, a tattoo on her shoulder and a degree in law.

She trained as a commercial lawyer in the City but knew it wasn't right for her. ''...one partner told me I lacked natural gravitas - he meant I smiled too much.'' So she swapped the views of St Paul's for a tiny office in Peckham, South London. ''My room didn't even have a window...but I loved it.''

Helen soon had a loyal following of teenagers needing legal advice and bus fares. From there she worked in most of London's beauty spots - Brixton, Deptford, Bethnal Green - eventually ending up in Luton working predominantly for children going through the care system.

The most frequently asked question about Helen's work is what she would do if she knew one of her client's was guilty. Would she still represent them? From there came her idea for Damaged Goods. What would a solicitor do if she suspected a child she represented was guilty of a brutal murder? ''I knew it would make a great story and the first draft flew off the page.'' Damaged Goods was bought by HarperColins in the UK and S.Fischer Verlage in Germany.

Helen is married to a long suffering lawyer who lives in the hope that one day he will have an ironed shirt. She has young twins who rule the household in a manner reminiscent of the Stalinist regime.