FOR Gordon Snell, seeing a best-selling novel written by his late wife Maeve Binchy, progress from page to stage has been a special experience.

Minding Frankie is currently at the Lowry. Salford Quays, as part of its first major UK tour and Gordon is delighted with the results.

“I’m sure Maeve would be delighted with it to,” said Gordon.

Maeve Binchy was one of Ireland’s leading writers and sold over 40 million copies of her books around the world. She died in 2012 at the age of 73.

Several of her books were turned into feature films including Circle of Friends and Tara Road but Minding Frankie is the first novel to become a stage play.

“Maeve was very good at dialogue and characters interacting with each other so her work has a dramatic element anyway,” said Gordon. “But I’m not sure whether she would have envisaged this one as a staged event.”

Minding Frankie is the story of Noel, struggling with an alcohol addiction who discovers when he gets a call from Stella, a girlfriend with whom he shared a drunken weekend. Stella is having Noel’s child; she is also dying from cancer and Noel must raise their daughter, Frankie.

The community rallies round Noel to help him but a social worker is determined to take the child into custody.

“The adaptation by Shay Linehan is very good,” said Gordon. “He’s managed to whittle down a cast of thousands to essentially two main characters. To be honest, I was amazed at the idea it could be done at all.”

Gordon was involved in the process with Shay sending early drafts of the script for him to look at.

“As soon as we saw the way he was handling it we knew it would work,” he said. “We made a few suggestions here and there but not very many as it all seemed to work so well with his script.

“Then when it came to the stage, it really took off – it’s a very exciting night at the theatre.”

Gordon has no worries that fans of the novel will be disappointed by the stage version.

“Some people when novels are made into films don’t like them as they are not the same as the original story but with this the story has translated very well to the stage. I do think that Maeve would have been very pleased with it.”

Gordon, a well known children’s author and poet in his own right, and Maeve were inseparable.

“We worked side by side in the same room,” he said, “which is very unusual but it was very useful as you had somebody to bounce your work off every day.

“We’d occasionally ask how to tackle something and we would read each other’s days output. We had a rule that we had to be totally honest about what the other had written.

“It was rare, but occasionally you might have a quibble about a character or a name or something and if you did, you had to say so.”

Working in such close proximity and also opening their work to criticism would prove a major problem for many couples but not Gordon and Maeve.

“We had another rule that you were allowed 10 minutes to go away and think about what had been said - it led to a harmonious household.

“We did have a very strong relationship and we were very much on the same wavelength even though we were writing in different forms. It helped having someone who was in the writing field and knew the problems of sitting down in front of a blank piece of paper.”

Maeve worked as a journalist on the Irish Times before her career as a novelist took off

“Maeve always said that her experience as a journalist helped her,” said Gordon. “She knew when she sat down with a blank piece of paper that it could be and would be filled. Also working to a deadline is a very useful thing - it certainly helps to focus the mind.”

Minding Frankie, the Lowry, Salford Quays, until Saturday. Details from 0843 208 6005 or