EAST 17's Tony Mortimer has finally read his first novel aged 50 – and went on to read 64 more in lockdown.
Pop star Tony, who won an Ivor Novello award for writing East 17's 1994 hit Stay Another Day, said he was so bored being stuck at home he turned to reading and then put pen to paper on his first ever biography.
He told The Times: "I can’t remember reading a novel ever. I’ve read books about music and stuff, but I’d never read a novel. I couldn’t think of anything more boring.”
Tony said he started with a haunted house mystery by the American novelist Eva Pohler, catching the reading bug with Secrets of the Greek Revival.
He's since worked his way through most of the greats including Roald Dahl, whom he called a "great storyteller", "smooth" JK Rowling, and "genius" Stephen King, and said he has plans to take on William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens next.
He added: "(Reading) dragged me in like that girl that fell down the rabbit hole, Alice in Wonderland. I remember the first book, I thought I’m gonna force myself to get to the end of this. And I did, and I’ve just fallen in love with reading. It’s absolutely escapism from the world."
Along with East 17 bandmates Brian Harvey, John Hendy, and Terry Coldwell, Tony, who wrote most of their material, sold more than 20 million records worldwide, achieved 18 top-20 singles and four top-10 albums.
But he'd never until now had the urge to put his life story on paper.
He said he's using King’s guide, On Writing, to aid his first attempt and is looking for a publisher to work with.
He said: "I’ve realised my first 10,000 words are not in the right order. I thought when you write a story, you go, ‘Once upon a time this happened, that happened, the end.’
"But it’s not chronological … I pretty much started in the middle. Then I went to the other end. Then I went back to the beginning with an idea."
Last year Tony appeared on This Morning to discuss Stay Another Day, which he wrote following his brother Ollie's tragic suicide.
Acknowledging that it had been exactly 25 years to the day that Stay Another Day hit number one, Tony admitted that it started out as a "delicate" album track that he never wanted to be released.
He told Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield: "It was a very delicate album track that was never to be released, ever, but people liked it and I said: 'No, you can't release that because it's kind of a personal one'.
"Having no control at all, it got released and it became the biggest hit that we have ever had."
Explaining why the song was so personal to him, he continued: "My brother committed suicide a couple of years before and I used that as the muse to write a song about loss.
"It turned into a love song – I didn't write my brother a love song, I used that as the loss behind it, and a friend of mine had lost her father.
"It was a really personal song just to stay on the album, no-one would know about it… For me, it was so surreal – of all the songs on the album you chose that one!"
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