Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in South Uist in the Scottish Outer Hebrides, the youngest of four children. A rebel, school drop-out, general mis-fit. After a failed marriage and becoming a single parent I realised I had to get my act together. I became a mature student, studying primary education. A chance meeting with the Estonian under sixteen football team led to my falling in love with the country. I packed my eleven year old daughter, two dogs and a cat into my Renault 11 and headed off to teach in a school in Tallinn.
I was now in the international school circuit and opportunities for travel abounded. I couldn't resist! During the next fifteen years we lived in Thailand, Ukraine, Lithuania and Portugal, collecting a variety of stray animals on the way (I can't help it!). I now live on the east coast of Scotland with a Ukrainian Jack Russell type mutt, Portuguese cat and Scottish Black Lab.
Your debut novel To Retribution is a political thriller, what attracted you to writing in this genre?
I've always had a strong interest in politics and it just seems to sneak its way into my writing. I enjoy playing with the possibilities politics opens up, particularly in the slightly dystopian context...what could happen if? Also the experience of having lived in countries with dubious political backgrounds and rife corruption has stayed with me. It gave me first hand experience of political nastiness and the resultant cloud it casts over a country.
If you had to describe To Retribution in three words, what would they be?
Pure dead brilliant! (If you're not familiar with Scottish colloquialisms , or humour, that won't make sense...)
What can we expect from you next?
I'm currently working on a novel based on two connecting stories; one historical, the other present day. It's a story about love in times of war. The lengths we go to to survive. The attachments we form in times of need. The cruelty endured by the innocent. Oh yes, and a woman on the run from a dark past. But, of course, it may all change, as is my want. Planning and sticking to that plan has never been one of my strongpoints either as a writer or in my life.
How did your writing journey start?
I became ill, cancer, and the side effects of the treatment left me unable to work. It was awful feeling not only very scared but also completely redundant. I had often thought about writing but thinking more about an autobiography than a novel. I decided to study creative writing with the Open University. To my delight I received a distinction. It was an absolute life saver, literally. I discovered something I could still do that inspired me and took me to places outside my, at the time, pretty dire reality. I'm now five years clear, officially cured , loving life, and totally caught up in the writing thing!
What authors have influenced you as a writer?
So many, but most importantly Andre Makine, Leif Davidsen, Steig Larsson, Ian Rankin, for style, concepts and character.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
'You're giving us a window to someone else's life. We don't need stained glass.' This was from my tutor at The Open University. It makes me really think about every word I use. Is it necessary? Does it help the story? I don't want anyone to read any of my work and feel like skipping the odd paragraph.
Jake, Brian and Suze, three idealistic young journalists, are used to hiding as they try to keep their online news channel open. They publish the truth about the repatriations, the corruption and the deceit.
New Dawn, the feared security force, is closing in yet again. The trio run, yet again. This time, however, they are pursued with a relentlessness, a brutality which seems far too extreme for their 'crimes.'
A trail of death is left in their wake as they try to escape New Dawn and find out what is really behind this hunt. They are drawn into a web of human trafficking, child abuse and murder. Only it's closer than they think. Much closer. Who would you trust?