Thousands of books sold to help mum whose sons died in house fire

Claire Throssell with Milly Johnson
Claire Throssell with Milly Johnson
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Around 9,000 copies have been sold of a new short story written to support a South Yorkshire mum whose two children were killed in a house fire started by her ex-husband.

Best-selling author Milly Johnson wrote e-book The Barn on Half Moon Hill to provide the proceeds to Penistone mum Claire Throssell, whose two sons Jack, aged 12, and Paul, nine, were killed in a house fire started by their father Darren Sykes.

Claire Throssell with her sons

Claire Throssell with her sons

All the proceeds from the book, which is on sale online for 99p, are being donated to Claire.

She was left with huge debts after Sykes cancelled the house insurance on their house before starting the fatal fire.

Milly, from Barnsley, said she is delighted with how sales have been going, with the short story featuring in the top 100 Amazon charts since its release in May.

She said she hopes the publication of her latest novel ‘Sunshine Over Wildflower Cottage’, released this month, will generate a fresh surge of interest in the e-book and increase sales.

Milly said: “Sales were at just a few below 9000 after a week and a half.

“It’s been in the top 100 for 3 weeks, it’s just slipped to 105 today but I anticipate a rise again when the ‘big book’ comes out next week.

“We are very pleased with it.”

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 put through the house on October 22, 2014.

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

Milly 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.

The popular author 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’s publisher Simon & Schuster and her agent Lizzy Kremer have waived their fees, while it was released as an e-book for 99p to save on printing costs and ensure the maximum amount possible can be raised.

The e-book tells the story of a film star visiting a Christmas theme park in South Yorkshire where the main character Cariad works.

n To order the book, visit millyjohnson.co.uk.