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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 March, 2004, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Book role auction nudges 20,000
Keeley Hawes and Rachael Stirling in Tipping the Velvet
Tipping the Velvet author Sarah Waters was among those involved
An auction giving members of the public the chance to bid to appear in a book by a best-selling British author has raised almost 20,000.

Successful bidders included a man who paid 1,000 to have his mother's name included in a Maeve Binchy novel.

Author Martina Cole, whose own work raised 220, also paid 1,000 for her name to appear in the next book by Tipping the Velvet writer Sarah Waters.

The money raised at the London auction will go to victims of torture.

My mother is waiting eagerly for [Maeve Binchy's] next book - now she's actually going to be in it
Adi McGowan
City trader Adi McGowan paid for his mother, Muriel, to appear in the next Binchy book as a birthday present.

"I usually give a book as a birthday present," he said. "Maeve's a favourite. My mother is waiting eagerly for her next book. Now she's actually going to be in it."

Other authors taking part in the event, at London's Groucho Club, included award-winning author Phillip Pullman who was made a CBE earlier this month.

Philip Pullman
Philip Pullman also auctioned a role in his next work
A fan paid 950 to secure a role in Pullman's next book, believed to be connected to his hugely popular fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials.

Twenty novelists took part in the auction, with bids starting at 100.

Among the others were Will Self, Joanne Harris and Tracy Chevalier, whose best-seller The Girl With a Pearl Earring was recently turned into a film starring Scarlett Johansson.

The 20,000 raised for The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture included a 10,000 anonymous gift from an author taking part.

"We are hugely grateful to all those authors who took part. It was an immortal evening," said the Medical Foundation's director Malcolm Smart.

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