What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?
Ah where do I start? Romance is so special because it has so many sub-genres for example suspense, LGBT, historical, erotic, heart-warming. The romance genre spans from one extreme to another there really is something for everyone. Secondly, it is widely read many readers indulge as a guilty pleasure or a get away from life’s stresses. A large majority of romance readers are women, but the diversity of the genre means that there is something for every woman out there no matter her race, age, sexuality or social status.
When it comes the thriller genre, it’s special because of the ride you’re taken on as a reader. It’s the thrill in thriller genre books that makes the genre special.
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always had a love for reading and writing since school. English as well as textiles and languages were my favourite subjects. Starting to write came along later in life gradually. In my teens I kept a journal and I started to journal again this last year, later in life I discovered the joy of letter writing and building friendships via paper and pen, with people that I’ve never even spoke to on the phone, but the friendship is solid. Novel writing came along at a turning point in my life, when I had time to focus and do what makes me happy. I was reborn! And out sprung the novel writer my creativity was fired up.
What inspires you to write?
So many things! It could be set writing prompts, writing challenges, an idea for a great romance or thriller story pops into my head. Life in general as a woman in her thirties and the ups and downs women may have romantically helps to inspire me. Society also and what goes on also inspires me.
How often do you write?
I’d say almost every day in some shape or form, I recently started journaling again, and I blog regularly. I update my author site at least every other day by responding to a writing prompt, writing a poem or short story, posting a book excerpt or sharing news.
Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
No not really, when I wrote A Stranger in France I agreed a deadline with my publisher, then I just worked towards it by giving myself check points I should reach in my plot by a certain day. How I got to my check points was another thing. Some nights I’d be up to the wee hours writing during long writing sessions and some nights it was just short bursts of writing, some nights it was nothing at all! But somehow I got there. For me I don’t like to personally give myself a word count target, I like plot mile stone check points as a target instead.
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
I can’t speak for all writers, but I can say there is no truth in this for me personally at all! I’m a very social person, I love meeting new people and getting to know them. I also love the company of my friends and family. I’m far from a loner, introverted, shy or reserved. Maybe I’m just one of the weird writers who go against the norm.
Do you think writers have a normal life like others?
Personally yes my life is totally “normal” I’d say. I work full time and I’m a mum, so my week day is pretty normal- work, home, mama duties and quality time with my son, write/read and bed. Weekends it’s a bit more random but definitely normal. It’s sometimes hard to juggle everything and write, but somehow as a writer you get it done, it’s a passion.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I am totally a plotter; I think it comes from being a planner by nature as a person. When I write I draft up my plot in full, who does what, when, how, and where the story goes from start to finish. I then give a brief outline of each chapter, draw up my character profiles then I’m good to go, I start to write. Personally for me I need to know where I’m going, so I know how much suspense to add to certain parts of the story and where I want to lead my readers.
For example I may want readers to think or feel X but really as you read on you get a shock as it’s Y. Or I may want a certain amount of build up to an event that is coming up, so it’s helpful for me to have some kind of plot to work from. Don’t get me wrong I don’t always stick to it, when I wrote A Stranger in France one event I just threw in as I was writing, which was fun and it helped to develop the story line.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
Yes I read as much as I can one of my favourite things. Before I started to really pursue my writing, I ran a book club here in London. Back then I’d read two books a month at least. My favourite authors are Martina Cole, Jackie Collins, Diane Chamberlain, John Grisham and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to name just a few. My favourite genres are romance, crime, thriller, African – American, historical fiction.
Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?
Yes, the first ever book I started to write I’ve come back to just this month. I started to write it a year ago to date almost. When I read back what I’d wrote I re-worked everything, it was terrible I hated it. So in my experience sometimes if you leave something to stew, you can come back stronger. It’s a romance story, but there is a murder – so I guess it’s a romance thriller story.
What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
Personally I like great characters; they don’t all have to be likeable if they are not meant to be. I think a great plot with good character development as a reader for me is key. Also allowing a reader to feel like they are right there experiencing what is taking place. If the characters are on the beach I love to feel like I’m right there with them, seeing what they are a good level of description helps with this.
Have you ever designed your own book cover?
Yes I gave a full brief on what I’d like the covers of both my books to look like. I had a vision for A Stranger in France, and my next book due out later this year.
Do you read and reply to the reviews and comments of your readers?
Of course. Yes if readers comment on my author site blogs or tweet me I always reply and say hi, thank you or engage with them.
What did you want to become when you were a kid?
An English teacher, fashion designer or make-up artist. All passions of mine.
Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?
The first romance suspense I read was in my teens Deadly Embrace by Jackie Collins. From then I fell in love with the genre and influenced my love of writing this genre- what a book!
Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers
I love to write characters from a first person point of view sometimes, I like to really bring out a character and their situation. I feel I sometimes can do this best in first person depending on the plot. I also love a diverse character line up, so in my stories you will always find characters of diverse races, ages and sexuality. My stories are modern and in some places pretty raw, meaning I like to make my character’s experiences (especially the female characters) as realistic and relevant to what a women in her late twenties and upwards may experience in life, in the present day.
I’m not afraid to have a villain in a romance –suspense story. I know that villains don’t often get a look-in in romance novels, but I’m not scared to throw one in if it helps spice up a story.
I also like to use different locations, be it London, France, Amsterdam or somewhere exotic. I like to take readers on a journey and experience other places.
Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Yes, two things. First I’m taking part in a writing project to raise money for a children’s cancer charity over in the USA. Basically myself and 18 other authors will write a short story to include in a book called ‘’Code Redhead”. All money raised from sales will go to charity. Readers can visit my blog for more details.
Secondly, I’m currently writing my third book a romance- thriller, my second book (a feel good romance) with a Christmas theme, will be out at Christmas.
Do you pen down revelations and ideas as you get them, right then and there?
Yes, for me this is a must, as I said I’m a plotter as a writer and planner in life generally. If something comes to me I’ve got to get it down for later. I’ve always carried a note pad around with me in my handbag a tiny reporter’s one just for shopping lists and things to do etc. Being a busy mum lists of things to do are endless. If something comes to me while out and about, I’ll jot it down my little pad along with my shopping lists and things to do. At home I have a nice pretty vintage looking large hardback notepad, this is where I plot and plan all my stories in full. Or if something comes to me while at home, I’ll jot it down in my vintage note pad.
How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?
A massive part, music is such a big love of mine and I have a very old soul. I love 50s, 60s, 70s Motown soul, as well as modern music of all different genres. In order to write, I need music in the background it helps me to focus and in some cases even inspires me while writing. While writing A Stranger in France I took certain songs and placed them within scenes, to add drama or help create a mood and show how a character feels rather than tell. Some of the songs featured just randomly came on my Spotify player while writing. Talk about the right place at the right time! They just fit the scene I was writing.
Do you encourage your children to read?
Absolutely, my two year old son and I go to the library almost weekly to pick out books. He is so young but he gravitates to books when he sees them, in his own little language I watch him sitting down on the carpet talking and pointing to the pictures- bless him. Every night when I put him to bed, he jumps up and down on the bed shouting “book book” meaning he wants a story. Already he has his favourites he likes to hear at night. It’s my mission to ensure he enjoys reading for pleasure, and not get caught up in TV only. So far he does not need much encouragement at all.