Thank you so much for inviting me onto Shaz’s book blog. As my friends will tell you, I relish the opportunity to talk about myself and my books…
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey?
I’ve been writing for most of my working life…okay, what I mean is I’ve been paid to write. For over twenty years I worked in the pharmaceutical industry where I spent my days writing about medicines and disease – and my evenings reading romance. I also met my husband there, but that connection to romance is extremely tenuous (!).
One New Year I set myself a resolution to see if I could write a romance. It was the only resolution I’ve ever stuck to. Sadly the book was rubbish (not what I thought at the time, but what I thought four years later when I dusted it off and read it again) but by then I had the bug. I went self-employed five years ago so I could juggle medical writing and romance writing. After reams of rejections, in 2013 I was lucky enough to finally get a book deal with Choc Lit.
Search for the Truth is your latest book, can you tell us a little bit about it?
It begins with Tess’s mission to discover whether the new breast cancer treatment her mother had started taking was responsible for her death. Being a journalist, Tess decides to go undercover at Helix pharmaceuticals, joining as their new communications manager. It brings her into contact with Jim Knight, the president of research and development - known as the pharmaceutical industry’s answer to George Clooney. And that’s when the story really starts ☺
Where did the inspiration come from for Search for the Truth and how much research did you need to do to enable you to write the story?
Part of the joy of writing a new book is researching about areas you’ve not experienced before. I loved finding out about the law for my first book, and refugee camps for my second, but I also found it stressful, wondering if I’d depicted it correctly. I’m writing fictional romance but still, you hope to make the story as believable as possible. So for my third book I decided to write about something I did know about, and set it in the pharmaceutical industry. A quick search of clinical trials and the pharma industry reveals lots of headlines claiming pharma companies haven’t been publishing all their trial results, like this from the New York Times: ‘When Drug companies hide data.’ So that gave me the plot.
If you had to describe Search for the Truth in one sentence, what would it be?
It’s about corporate corruption, lies and deception, but most of all it’s a love story.
What is your writing routine?
My writing routine, whether it’s medical writing (which I do from home) or romance writing is to exercise (run or swim) before sitting down at my computer with tea and toast (umm, I do shower first!) to do my emails. Then it’s a quick dip into social media (if I’m disciplined - longer if I’m not) before diving into romance or medicine, depending on the day of the week. I write until my sons arrive home from school, but as they’re teenagers and don’t want to talk to their mum I’m quickly back at my desk until their stomachs tell me it’s time to make the dinner.
What essentials do you need to have close to hand when in writing mode?
If I’m editing I need a pad and paper to scribble notes; words I think I’m using too much, continuity issues, pages I think are ugh and need to go back to later. When I’m on the first draft I need only a clear picture of the plot and characters (not always guaranteed) and a mug of tea. Oh and my computer, because even I can’t read my own handwriting.
If you get a plot block during the initial writing phase, how do you work your way through it?
To be honest, I just keep writing. If I stop and worry too much about it, I lose the flow. I’d rather crack on even with the issues and get to the end, then iron it out on the next read through. I find the more I write the story, the clearer it becomes, and so then much easier to go back and amend. As I don’t write complicated plots (!) it’s never too difficult to unpick.
What authors have influenced you as a writer?
My main influence has been Nora Roberts, whose books I’ve read constantly over the years. Perhaps also a sprinkle of Jilly Cooper, Jackie Collins, Wilbur Smith, Winston Graham, Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell, Erica James…
If one of your books was to be made into a TV series or film, which book would you like it to be?
Well, as Jim Knight is known as the pharma industry’s answer to George Clooney, could we have Search for the Truth please? Of course I would have to interview George personally to check he really was suitable for the part ☺
Finally what can we expect from you next?
As it’s the middle of summer, next I’m working on the edits for my Christmas novella, A Second Wish! I may have to hunt down some mince pies to get into the mood.
Sometimes the truth hurts ...
When journalist Tess Johnson takes a job at Helix pharmaceuticals, she has a very specific motive. Tess has reason to believe the company are knowingly producing a potentially harmful drug and, if her suspicions are confirmed, she will stop at nothing to make sure the truth comes out.
Jim Knight is the president of research and development at Helix and is a force to be reckoned with. After a disastrous office affair he's determined that nothing else will distract him from his vision for the company. Failure is simply not an option.
As Tess and Jim start working together, both have their reasons for wanting to ignore the sexual chemistry that fires between them. But chemistry, like most things in the world of science, isn't always easy to control.