Michele Guinness

Brought up in a practising Jewish family, the best-selling author and speaker worked as Head of Communications for the Cumbria and Lancashire Strategic Health Authority until she gave it up a few years ago to concentrate on writing and speaking. This summer she will be heading to her beloved France as much as she can, but she’ll also be joining her Church of England minister husband Peter on the stage at the Detling Celebration week in Kent, where they are part of the core speaking team.

Life after the NHS … I thought it would be much quieter – silly me! If anything, it’s busier because I can’t use the excuse that I’m out at work, and folk don’t understand that writing and preparation require huge discipline. I really miss having colleagues, and being me, not the vicar’s wife. Positively, it’s nice not to pass my other half at the front door every evening, as I come in from work and he goes out to a meeting. And I’m free to take off to Vienna to see the three grandchildren.

On writing The Word of the Wives with daughter Abby ... We spent hours on the phone and laughed until our sides ached. It was such fun to try and think laterally about the great men of the Bible, and look at them from the perspective of the women who had to put up with them. Fortunately, we have a similar sense of humour. But there is a bit of competition over who wrote the best gags.

The response to the book … Overwhelming. The ‘wives’ seem to have captured people’s imaginations. I can’t perform them the way Abby does. My Mrs Caiaphas in frilly, nylon negligee from the Oxfam shop just doesn't match her Mrs Noah in Marigolds. She makes them come alive, and she’s now in demand to do evenings all over the country.

In the pipeline … It’s my first piece of fiction – a church political thriller, based on an idea I’ve lived with for almost 20 years. I even dreamt about it last night. Why did no one tell me that writing fiction is like pulling teeth?

The big getaway to France … How could I not? In June, July (with my game, 83-year-old mum), August and September. A lot of toing and froing, as Peter can’t take that much holiday, and I don’t like to leave him for too long as he might starve, or work himself into an early grave. But I can’t stay away from France either. I love it so much.

Looking ahead to Detling … I think we all need a Christian community holiday a year – to give us that spiritual boost that intensive input does. There’ll be over 100 of us from St Mark’s, so a great chance to get to know folk I only smile at on Sundays. I’m looking forward to great meals with them again, like a full roast dinner (there’s electricity to every site). And I love the way the youth group, which I lead, only appears when hungry. We’re both involved in a series of seminars on discovering who we are. We’ll be looking at identity, self-worth, body image, and life in all its fullness. And, if I’m a very good girl, I may be allowed to do some hosting of the main evening event.

* The Detling Celebration, Lifesong, takes place from 11th to 16th August 2012 at the Kent Showground, Detling. For further information visit ? or call 01622 620 830. The Word of the Wives by Michele and Abby Guinness is published by Authentic, price £7.99 ISBN 978-1850788720. For more information about Michele go to