Martina Cole was born in Essex, England, to Irish Catholic parents, and was the youngest of five children. She was expelled from her convent school at 15 after allegedly being caught reading a Harold Robbins novel. She married for the first time aged 16, but the marriage only lasted a year. She had her first child, Christopher, at the age of 18. Her parents both died when she was in her early 20s.
Prior to her literary success, Cole had a variety of jobs, including working as a cleaner, a wine waitress, an agency nurse and a supermarket shelf-stacker. Cole's breakthrough came in 1991, when her manuscript for Dangerous Lady was accepted and sold for a record £150,000. The book was published the following year. Her novels often deal with the seedy underworld of London, England and feature a female protagonist. Her novels are chock-full of grisly murders, violent robberies, and even prison breaks. Each act is very detailed and realistic. Several of her novels have been adapted to film, television and stage.
A four-part TV adaptation of Dangerous Lady was broadcast on ITV in 1995, and in 1998 ITV broadcast a four-part adaptation of The Jump. The Take was serialized on British television in June 2009, and starred Tom Hardy as Freddie. The Graft has also been commissioned but has yet to go into production.
In March 2011 The Runaway was shown on Sky1 and Sky1 HD. It is based on Cole's 1997 novel of the same name. Three of Cole's novels have been adapted for the stage by the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London: Two Women in 2010; The Graft in 2011, and Cole's first novel, Dangerous Lady in 2012.
"I've realized that a lot of life is not what you say,see, it's what you don't say. People have to make up their own minds then. It's like a game, and only we know the rules.”
― Martina Cole