I used to be a mild(ish) mannered project manager by day, a country music loving writer by night and weekends. But having recently taken a six-month break and moved to the USA I’m a mild mannered country music loving writer by day and by night. I love books, US TV crime shows and John Hughes movies. I collect walking sticks and spend too much time on Twitter. My boyfriend says I have an unhealthy obsession with Kenny Chesney. I’ve met Taylor Swift. I’ve been a voice over artist and could be the voice of your on hold phone system. I read ‘The Hunger Games’ when there was only one book out. Billy Piper will play me in the biopic of my life, if only so I can get close to Laurence Fox.
We’ve had The Last Kiss, The First Kiss and Lipstick on his Collar, what’s next to come in The Kiss Collection?
There are three more stories in the Kiss Collection to come. Yet again they are short explorations of different kiss scenarios. These are different again from the first three, one is particularly chilling (or so my editor says). They should be out later this year and there is a possibility that all six will eventually be released as an anthology.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I have always written and started my first novel when I was sixteen. When I was a child I wanted to do everything; act, write, be a vet, an astronaut, an archaeologist. Gradually I’ve started paring it down.
How long did it take you to get your first book published?
It took about ten years from taking my writing seriously. I will admit for some of those years I was distracted by other things.
Do you have a set daily writing routine?
I try to but I am easily distracted. I’ve just moved to the US for six months so I try and do an hour or two in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon. I have decided that for Lent I need to set a daily word count. When I was working full time I tried to write on the commute to and from work and weekends.
What do you love most about writing? And on the flip side is there anything you hate?
I love creating characters and putting them in difficult positions then saving them. Sometimes writing is really hard, when it nothing seems to be working and I want to throw the laptop out of the window. Or watch back-to-back episodes of America’s Next Top Model.
Have you ever had writer’s block?
I wouldn’t say I’ve had writer’s block. There have been times when I haven’t written because every day life has been difficult. If one piece of work isn’t working I usually try and write something else. Maybe a short story, a novella or a piece of nonsense; that seems to clear the pipes.
Where do you get the inspiration from for your stories?
The first three kiss stories have a kernel of real life in them but the inspiration came from listing out kiss related titles and seeing what sparked a story. I have a YA novel which was inspired by a stone circle in Cumbria and I’m currently writing a book called ‘Sugar Girl’ which was sparked by a bloke I worked with whose dad was a rock drummer. Ideas come from everywhere.
Would you say that any of your characters are like you? If so, which one(s)?
The character in ‘The First Kiss’ is me at seventeen. In fact that date pretty much happened as I wrote it, it just wasn’t my first kiss. The gentleman in question is now a father of four and a judge. I haven’t told him I wrote our teenage date.
If you could write another style of genre, what would it be and why?
I write contemporary YA and YA paranormal/fantasy, which I love. I need to find someone to buy them! I would love to write crime fiction. I have the first chapter of a book started that is set in a ski resort in the US, which just happened to be where I am at the moment.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
“Never give up, never surrender!” I think one of the hardest things as an aspiring author is to keep going when you are getting rejected. It is especially difficult if you have writing friends who have sold. But everyone has their own journey and it takes as long as it takes. The only thing you are in control of is your story and your craft. So write through it all even when it feels like the most difficult thing in the world. Another good thing is to evaluate the relationship you are in with your writing. Is it committed and monogamous or have you been cheating on it with too much TV?
Being a writer appears to be such a solitary lifestyle, especially when you’re in the midst of writing, so do you consider the influence of social Media, Facebook and Twitter, a blessing or a hinderance?
A blessing! It is even more essential now that I am thousands of miles away from friends and family. It was through Twitter that I had my first short story published back in 2010. It is my way of finding new people, new books and new information. Admittedly it can be a time suck but on balance it is definitely a blessing.
Do you prefer to read physical copies of books or e-books?
At the moment I am almost a total e-book reader. This is due to my gypsy life style. I still love physical books but I don’t have a place to keep them.
When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?
I will admit to a celebratory glass of something bubbly. You have to celebrate all the little steps and victories in this writing game.
Where would be your idyllic location for a writing retreat?
I have to say I might actually be in the ideal writing retreat. Breckenridge, Colorado in the shadow of some of the best skiing peaks in the world. I can write, ski, skate and run (yes, run in the snow).
If you were going to be stuck on a desert island and could only take 3 books with you, which ones would you choose?
Ooooo this is difficult but I’m going to choose books that I re-read regularly. Old friends.
‘Gaudy Night’ – Dorothy L Sayers – I love all of her books but this one just edges into the front as my favourite. I fell in love with her detective, Lord Peter Wimsey when I was fifteen. This book is the culmination of a five-year love affair between Lord Peter and the mystery writer Harriet Vane. The scene in the punt where she firsts sees him as a man rather than a brain behind a rather foolish façade always gives me the shivers.
‘Curse of Chalion’ – Lois Bujold McMasters (and if it came in an edition which included ‘Paladin of Souls’ I’d be happy!) This is a fantasy novel with amazing world building and strong characters. The fantastical element of the book is based on a religion of five gods and the people they choose to act through, the saints. And of course it includes romance. I re-read it about once a year.
‘Frederica’ – Georgette Heyer – to be honest I could have listed most of Georgette Heyer’s books. Do they make a complete works of Georgette Heyer, because that is what I’d take? I was brought up on them. Frederica is my current favourite. Frederica, the heroine is strong and self-assured. And she makes the hero work to win her.
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