'I think about the happy': Late rock legend Alvin Stardust's daughter says writing debut novel helped her grieve her dad

28 October 2022, 12:57 | Updated: 28 October 2022, 12:59

Millie Stardust, the daughter of Alvin Stardust, is about to publish her debut novel
Millie Stardust, the daughter of Alvin Stardust, is about to publish her debut novel. Picture: Millie Stardust

By Daisy Stephens

The daughter of late rock legend Alvin Stardust has opened up about how writing her debut novel helped her to process her father's death.

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Millie Stardust, 21, is publishing Enguard, her first book, on Monday.

The novel is aimed at teenagers and follows 18-year-old May - newly expelled from a high-security training academy she joined when her father died and her house burnt down aged 13 - and her bodyguard Tristan Knight.

The pair embark on an adventure to decipher the message May's father left for her and to find out why she is being targeted by attackers.

Also aged 13 when her father died, Ms Stardust told LBC writing the book, which has a heavy focus on the main character's relationship with her late father, helped her to process her own delayed grief.

"She loses this amazing, larger-than-life figure in her life and then she goes about processing it but later, so I think that's what I was kind of doing with the book - processing," said the writer, who is publishing under her father's stage surname.

"When he actually passed away... I went very numb.

"I took on a lot of things and kept myself really busy and just pushed and pushed and pushed."

Millie and her father pictured on his 70th birthday in 2012
Millie and her father pictured on his 70th birthday in 2012. Picture: Millie Stardust

Alvin Stardust died from prostate cancer at the age of 72.

Ms Stardust said it had always been her father's dream for her to go Exeter University, but it was not until she did - and lockdown hit - that she really started to come to terms with her dad's death.

"I felt like I hadn't really grieved," she said.

"Then when I was in lockdown that then got opened up because you're just left with your own thoughts."

She said processing what had happened by writing the book allowed her to focus on all the positive aspects of her father's life.

"My dad, even when he wasn't very well, he was a very lovely and exciting and larger-than-life character... but I was nervous because I wanted him to be ok," she said.

"After this book I don't [feel that anymore]. I think about the happy."

The writer also said she was inspired by her dad's own attempt to write a book when she was just eight years old.

"He taught me that anyone can write because he sat there and he just wrote," she said.

"And he never finished it... but that taught me that it was okay to just sit and have a go."

Now 21, Millie said writing the book helped her process her own grief
Now 21, Millie said writing the book helped her process her own grief. Picture: Millie Stardust

Another thing that motivated the young author to write the book was her two goddaughters, who are approaching the age she was when her father died.

"I looked at them getting older and I just remembered how much life could be at that time," she said, adding that the early teenage years are a tough age even without the death of a parent.

She said she wanted to give other children like her goddaughters the same escapism she got from books.

"Going into your teenage years is just a lot, regardless of what your situation is," she said.

"You feel like an adult but you're not.

"And you're looking around at everything and you're trying to process and you're overthinking.

"And the way that I escaped all the overthinking was in books, and it was in books that were easy to read, [with] characters you kind of felt were your friends, and where you couldn't think of anything else because you were sucked into the book."

She said it was that thought that motivated her to send the novel to a publisher.

"I just got really excited at the prospect that maybe my goddaughters or their friends or someone that age who felt how I felt would want to read it," she said.

"I was writing it for me, and then I was like - well, it's written now. And it might help make someone feel a little less alone."

Enguard goes on sale on Monday
Enguard goes on sale on Monday. Picture: Millie Stardust

Reflecting on her father, she said he would be "so excited" about her publishing her debut novel.

"This is his dream come true," she said.

"I think he'd be jumping for joy... he'd be going into Waterstones and putting it on the front of all the shelves."

She said the process of really putting her mind to something made her feel connected to her father because of his own dedication - especially to the people he cared about.

"Everyone used to give him the nickname of Father Christmas, because if you needed something, it would be there," she said.

"If all of a sudden you were like 'right, I really need this house to be pink'... it would be pink by the end of the day.

"He'd find some way of making things happen."

Ms Stardust is now working on her second novel, having recently graduated and moved to London.

"Everything about my life now is feeling very exciting," she said.

"I'm going to take everything I've learnt from writing the book to go out and just embrace life."

Enguard will be available from bookstores on Monday October 31.

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