THE best books are those in which the characters come alive before your eyes.

They certainly do in author Kamla Levers’ first novel, inspired by her multi-cultural upbringing in Bradford.

There’s the Ladoo Shop Twins, who had been normal young girls when growing up, ‘and then had come the greasy, centrally-parted hair with full sideburns and heavy moustaches,’ writes Kamla, who works under the pseudonym Shelia Patel. ‘Their mother had told them it was a hormone imbalance. However, at the age of 10 they’d started sprouting armpit hair from under their T-shirts, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, after moving into the Ladoo shop on Leeds Road and being constantly tempted by the sweet yellow delights, they both started piling on the pounds too.’

The twins are among the colourful, engaging characters that make ‘The Magic Vodka Wardrobe’ such a fun read.

If I imagined, as I did, the pair blossoming into swans throughout their teens, I was wrong.

‘Years had passed and the sugar and fat had made them miserable and vindictive. As a result, they’d spent years being hairy and mean, casting spells in their spare time,’ writes Kamla.

There’s Rajeev, who, when he takes off his brown suit and removes his centre parting is ‘quite the stud’ and Lady Fatima, who even with a cast on her leg, still wears her ‘signature white socks and sandals.’

The short story centres around an Indian family who live in the diverse Thornbury area of Bradford. It focuses upon two sisters Shaz and Trace, who escape their traditional backgrounds and boring accountancy jobs by drinking and dancing in a fantastical land inside a wardrobe in her bedroom.

Kamla grew up in Bradford Moor, the youngest of seven in a traditional Punjabi family. She attended Carlton Bolling College before studying mechanical engineering at the then Leeds Polytechnic, before completing an MBA at the University of Liverpool.

She went on to work as a stress engineer at British Aerospace, before setting up an NVQ training company. She later lived in China for a year with her husband and sons, working in the wind energy industry.

But she always harboured a passion for writing and penned a few chapters of the Magic Vodka Wardrobe as a birthday present for her niece Sonia Toora.

The crazy tales were a bog hit and Kamla, who lives in Wirral, was encouraged to write a whole book.

The wardrobe - where Shaz finds a seventies’ disco in full swing, and is served her favourite vodka - will, she is told by barman Magic Mike‘, appears ‘when you need it the most - after exams, after balancing spreadsheets, and after being with the parents…”

“The idea came from my childhood,” she says. “We lived above the family shop in a multicultural area, just like the characters do. We saw lots of very colourful characters coming and going.”

She adds: “Now I see how things have changed, with the younger generation almost splitting their lives, going out and socialising, while still living in traditional homes.

“I let my imagination run a bit wild with the stories - it is very much about escapism and all very tongue in cheek. The characters are all fictional and larger than life, but I have made it a bit more personal by including Bradford landmarks and streets that played a part in my upbringing.”

*The Magic Vodka Wardrobe by Shelia Patel is available from Amazon priced around £2.99