The rags-to-riches story of the woman who wrote Mamma Mia

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London, July 3 : Ten years ago she was drowning under a big pile of unpaid bills, but as the Millennium drew towards a close, Catherine Johnson's life took a U-turn, and she landed the job of putting together the story for the Abba musical Mamma Mia.

The now multimillionaire says that she's living up her dream.

Gone are the cramped, run-down homes where the single mum once feared the knock of the debt collectors.

Catherine, once a hard-up TV scriptwriter, now owns two luxury houses in Bristol and one in posh Pimlico in central London.

One home is exclusively for her to write in, another has five storeys so the kids can have a whole floor each instead of having to share a cramped single room.

In fact Catherine's rags-to-riches story could itself be the plot of a West End musical - except it might sound too far-fetched.

The 50-year-old writer has sparked a wave of "jukebox" musicals based on famous songs and stars that today dominate theatrelands from London to New York.

She wove the Mamma Mia! story around Abba's greatest hits so successfully that the show has grossed 1 billion pounds around the world in nine years.

Now it has been turned into a film starring Meryl Streep, Julie Walters and Pierce Brosnan.

That phenomenal success means Catherine is now worth around 20million pounds and she is set to become even richer.

"Nothing beats knowing you have the security to look after your family. If I drop dead tomorrow, they are taken care of," The Sun quoted her, as saying.

"That means more than success to me. My financial situation has changed totally. If I go on a train, I can go first-class and I shop at Waitrose. I have more money than I can imagine and, yes, I do feel very guilty," she added.

ANI

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