Maxine Gordon meets North Yorkshire’s answer to raunchy novelist Jilly Cooper.

EMMA Martin is the sort of woman who never leaves home without her ‘face on’. Full make-up, big hair, lots of accessories, and a faux-fur leopard-spot coat is her daily uniform – even on the school run.

“I love my bling,” says Emma, 37, with a hearty laugh, when we meet at her cosy farmhouse, near Coxwold, York.

Today she’s dressed in black. Her knee-high boots sport fire-pokersharp heels and soles rimmed in silver.

A giant bejewelled cuff grips her wrist and a theatrical piece of costume jewellery snakes around her neck.

In her bedroom, Emma reclines on the black satin sheets of her sleigh bed and lifts a glass of champagne to our photographer. Candles flicker in the ornate glass mirror and two dozen red roses spill out of a silver bucket on the bedside table.

It’s only 10am, and Emma reassures me she’s not going to drink the champagne – it’s just a prop she’s brought in for the photo shoot.

Minutes later, we are sitting in the sun-flooded reception room, drinking coffee made by her hubby Martin Dobson, who runs a car dealership.

Their three children, Luke, six, and five-year-old twins Amara and William, are being bribed with crisps to watch a DVD so “mummy can chat to the nice lady”.

A bookcase gives a clue to Emma’s latest venture. Two shelves are filled with books about writing and getting published.

Five years ago, when Luke was just six months old and Emma was told she was expecting twins, she decided to write a novel. It was a dramatic change in direction for someone who had left Easingwold School at 16 with no qualifications and had worked in sales in London and overseas.

“I thought writing a book would be easy,” she says, raising an eyebrow to indicate her naïvity.

Five years later, the fruit of “thousands of hours” hunched over her laptop – often working through the night as her family slept – has ripened into Racy!, a page-turning novel in the chick-lit tradition set against the glamorous backdrop of the North Yorkshire horseracing world.

Emma ploughed £12,000 into publishing the novel herself, but is already reaping the rewards. Through directly selling to friends, family, via local bookshops and online, she managed to sell almost half of the first print run of 2,500 books in three weeks.

“I had mums and grans queuing up in the school car park to buy copies,” says Emma. She also had a book signing at Browns department store in York, supported by North Yorkshire actress and horse lover Claire King, and has roped in Frankie Dettori to help promote the book at York’s race meeting in May, where she will also sponsor a race.

“I thought that would be good because the novel is set during the May meeting at York,” said Emma.

Racy! begins with the death of the son and heir to an enormous racing stable and the funeral marks the catalyst for change in the lives of two central characters: Charles Lancaster- Baron, handsome, rich, with a dark secret; and Julia Smith, a beautiful gipsy girl who enters another world when she meets Italian millionaire and champion jockey Luca DeMario.

Emma is an avid fan of racing and horses (she has a degree in equine management from Bishop Burton college), but says the book is more about the glamour of a day at the races and all the socialising and social climbing that goes with it than about studying the form.

‘Glamour’ is the buzzword she uses to describe the essence of her novel. “I think I am filling a gap in the market,” she says. “Whenever I went to a bookshop or to Tesco, all the books seemed to have the same general covers, with weird caricatures or of children crying. I didn’t want to read about Wags, nor about children being abused. There didn’t seem to be anything that was a story of substance that had glamour in it.

“When I spoke to women about what they liked, they talked about Dynasty and Dallas. They want to curl up on the settee or relax by the pool with a bit of escapism.”

And Emma found she had plenty of material from the myriad of characters she has met growing up and living in North Yorkshire. “This is such a fabulous county; there is such a mix of people. There are your genuine bona fide socialites, as well as people trying to aspire to that but in credit up to their eyeballs trying to keep up with the Joneses.”

Perfect fodder for an aspiring novelist.

■ Racy! (£17.99, available from or