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From Towie to chick-lit, Harold Wood novellist Laura Ziepe on her success so far

10:21 26 February 2013

Laura Ziepe

Laura Ziepe

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Essex Girls author Laura Ziepe explains her whirlwind of success.

Laura Ziepe at her Essex Girls book launch. Picture: JPL PhotographyLaura Ziepe at her Essex Girls book launch. Picture: JPL Photography

A night out at the Sugar Hut is not enough to put a smile back on Jade’s face after her boyfriend cheated on her, so she and her friends go on holiday to Marbella and experience sun, sea, men and vajazzles.

No, it’s not an episode of the Only Way is Essex, but the debut chick-lit novel by a Harold Wood businesswoman who came close to being one of the show’s original stars.

For 29-year-old Laura Ziepe, events of the last few years have been a whirlwind of success.

In 2010, the former Shenfield High School pupil, whose designer dress hire business had already taken off, began filming to be part of the first series of ITV2’s Only Way is Essex soap.

She said: “I really wanted to use it to promote my business, but the producers just kept saying that they would, but later on.

“I pulled out the day before I was supposed to do a lot more filming and asked them to take my scenes out.

“I didn’t want to be a stereotypical character.”

But her experience on the show - in which one of her scenes was kept in after all - and the increased national notoriety of the county gave her an idea.

Having studied professional and creative writing at university after having had a love of books since her time at Harold Wood Primary School, Laura decided to return to literature.

“I could see the show was really going to take off,” she said. “Especially after speaking to Lauren Goodger, she explained how much they’d spent on advertising it, so I looked to see if there were any books about Essex Girls – and I realised there was a gap in the market.”

Eight months of writing and a “lucky” immediate response from an agent, and Laura soon had a two book deal for novels Essex Girls and Made in Essex.

“I write about what I know, it’s easy to write about things you’ve experienced, but I also wanted to show that not all Essex Girls are blonde bimbos, so in the book the girls start their own business,” she explained.

That is also something taken from her own experience.

In 2009 Laura was able to quit her day job at a law firm as her My Celebrity Dress became successful.

She said: “A lot of women I know only wear a dress a couple of times, so it can be a waste of money to buy one for £400.

“Instead they can spend £85 and hire one.”

The idea propelled Laura into the spotlight, with appearances in national newspapers and on morning TV shows.

And in the future Laura clearly intends to continue to defy any stereotypes: “I always want to write, and later on I’d like to try different styles, not just chick-lit, maybe under a different name,” she said.

Essex Girls is out now published by Harper Collins’ Avon imprint. Laura will be signing copies of the book at Waterstones in Romford on Saturday from 12.30pm.

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