What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
I write romantic fiction and my books are often described as romcom. I didn’t choose the genre, it chose me. I had always fancied my hand at writing crime novels and cookery books, which seems a strange combination. However, the story behind my first book had been going round in my head for about a year and was based in an area where I once lived that held an annual gypsy horse fair. I thought it would be fun to write about it and the story I wrote was about a romance. Once this was published the rest followed in a similar vein, as though I had found my natural writing style, although I’d never say no to a stab at being a sleuth if I had the time and opportunity.
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
No never. One manuscript sits on my desk until it reaches its conclusion. There’s a lot of writing going on at the same time by way of articles or short stories but I can only write one book at a time.
Do you work with a writing/critique group?
I have a small team of beta readers who kindly critique and give me feedback. This is very useful.
Can you remember your first reading book?
Early childhood is a bit of a blur but I remember being read to; my favourite was When We Were Very Young by AA Milne. My Dad would recite poetry and he had quite a memory. Our mum was a very good story-teller and had a made-up tale of little people who lived in our old Victorian house and she called them the ‘Nother Ones.’ They lived in the skirting boards and cupboards of the house but if truth be told I was terrified of the Nother Ones and tried not to listen as I fell asleep.
Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is your chosen treat?
Nibble? I can eat for England! Eating seems to make me focus and I love a big mug of tea or coffee and something really sweet and squidgy like a home-made brownie or two or three…
Tidy desk or a bombsite? Describe your writing area with us.
Horribly tidy. I can’t begin until everything is just so. I adore expensive candles, especially vanilla based and consider them a complete luxury whilst I write. I have a favourite pen alongside my note book and laptop, a black ink rollerball that glides on the page. Everything on the desk must be in place, even the angle of the lamp – then I can begin.
Are you published in the traditional manner or self-published? Share your journey.
Both. I couldn’t find a publisher with my debut novel and went down the self-publishing route. I wasn’t very computer savvy and made a lot of mistakes but by some miracle the book shot to #3 on Amazon and gave me a huge boost and I learnt so much. Then I worked with a publisher and it was a completely different experience – again I learnt a lot. I have been offered publishing deals with well-known publishers and turned them down. Had this happened with my first novel I know I would have jumped straight in but I’m glad that self-publishing gave me an insight of the process that takes a book to market. It is an ever changing world in publishing and a very personal decision for any author to make now that there are so many more opportunities to get your book out there. Someone once said to me: ‘Cream rises to the top and if it is a good book it will get there’. I think that is very true but an author today has to be very aware of self-promotion and marketing whichever route they choose.
Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing life?
I read J D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye when I was at school and like the character, Holden, I hated school and could completely associate with teenage alienation. It’s a book I’ve never forgotten in a sort of disturbing, too-close-to-home sort of way which made me determined in later years to cherish learning, whatever form it takes.
James A Michener changed my life. His book The Drifters made me pack my bags and leave home and before long I was hitch-hiking around Spain.
I was entranced by Arnold Bennett’s, An Old Wives Tale. The quality of the writing in the book held me spellbound as a young girl and I marvelled that a man could write so well from a woman’s perspective at that period in time (early 1900s). The book made me want to find out much more about the author and I discovered many of his personal artefacts in a museum in Stoke. To stand so close to Bennet’s pen, note book and spectacles etc gave me a feeling of enormous respect for one who had such an interesting life and broke the rules of his day. It made me want to break a few rules too and in the process led to the interesting life that I’ve had so far.
What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript?
Be the best you can be. Revise, review and re-word wherever you have to until you can say with your hand on your heart that you have done your absolute best. If you think you haven’t given it your all, your readers will recognise that too. Submit the most polished work possible.
If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, who would you like to play your main characters?
Jo is probably a Kate Winslet type; gorgeous looking but unaware of it. She’s irritating to the point that you want to slap her until she suddenly turns it all round and you want to hug her.
Hattie is a bit of a Dawn French – larger than life, happy and bubbly and steam-rollering through whatever obstacles come her way.
Pete Parks would be Sean Bean – very northern and rough around the edges.
Long Tom Hendry could be played by Jeff Bridges who is a great vocalist and could sing Long Tom’s songs.
I was on my way to the supermarket, when … Do you have a tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?
I never think of any day as boring. Each trip out is an adventure, even when I fall off my bike (on the way to the supermarket…) which tends to happen quite often!
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