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Bidding war over McCutcheon

Actress Martine McCutcheon is turning her hand to fiction with her debut novel The Mistress, the first in a trilogy about strong women. McCutcheon's agent Jaine Bent has approached three publishers, who are all currently bidding for the title.

Mark Booth, publishing director at Century, confirmed he had put in an offer for the title, adding "Martine writes like an angel". Brent, who would not reveal the other two publishers in the running, said she was leaning towards Random House, because it is already publishing Sweetie, the first fiction title by McCutcheon's mother Jenny Tomlin, in July. But she added: "We are in a really comfortable position and in no rush, as we already have ITV who want to develop the first book for a series. Martine is co-writing the screen-play with the ITV writers."

The Mistress, which will be followed by second title The Actress, is a tale about "the other woman" and will celebrate everything to do with London life. Unlike Katie Price and Kerry Katona, who used ghost-writers to follow up their autobiographies with works of fiction, McCutcheon will "definitely be writing the books herself," insisted Brent. "She has written her own albums and written for plays, so she is actually a writer at heart."

Whether McCutcheon will emulate the staggering success of Price is another matter. Price has sold almost 250,000 copies of her debut novel Angel (Arrow) since publication in the summer of 2006, and almost 270,000 copies of all editions of her follow-up novel Crystal (Century/Arrow) since publication in June 2007. Kerry Katona's novel Tough Love (Ebury) has sold just over 28,000 copies of the paperback published in October last year.