Author Milly Johnson publishing new story to help Penistone mum Claire Throssell rebuild life

Claire Throssell with Milly Johnson

Claire Throssell with Milly Johnson

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Bestselling author Milly Johnson is publishing a new short story to support Penistone mother Claire Throssell rebuild her life.

All of the proceeds from Milly’s new e-book, The Barn on Half Moon Hill, will be donated to Claire, whose two sons Jack, 12, and Paul, nine, were killed in a house fire started by their father Darren Sykes.

Jack and Paul with mother Claire Throssell

Jack and Paul with mother Claire Throssell

Jack and Paul were killed after they were lured to the house by their father who had just bought a new model train set. He had been granted access to the children by the courts after the couple divorced a few weeks earlier.

He barricaded them in the attic and then ignited petrol he had put through the house on October 22, 2014.

Sykes also left Claire with huge debts as he had cancelled the house insurance and so she was left to pay the mortgage on the property.

Dozens of local volunteers have offered their time for free to help rebuild the house so it can eventually be sold.

Milly, who is from Barnsley, said she decided to offer her talents as a writer to help Claire, who she now considers a friend after first meeting her last year.

She has spent around eight months working on the new 16,000-word short story, which is set in Penistone and is a follow-up to her successful 2012 novel A Winter Flame.

Milly said that her publisher Simon & Schuster and her agent Lizzy Kremer have waived their fees, while it is being released as an e-book for 99p to save on printing costs and ensure the maximum amount possible can be raised.

The book, which tells the story of a film star visiting a Christmas theme park in South Yorkshire where the main character Cariad works, is published on Thursday and Milly said pre-order sales have been ‘fantastic’ so far.

Milly said: “This is for Claire. I really hope it will earn a lot of money for her.

“I have never known anything like the support for her locally.

“Each 99p is a little bit, not a lot. But all those little bits can make a big difference to a woman’s life.

“It is anybody’s worst nightmare to have lost everything and not even to start from scratch but worse than that.

“The 99p is a throwaway amount even if you haven’t got much. The book is there as a bonus, a thank you for giving that 99p.”

To order the book, visit millyjohnson.co.uk