1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
My first book, Uphill All the Way (Transita), had been out for a few months. I was selling a lot of short stories and writing my second magazine serial. Also, I was working as a creative writing tutor for various institutions. I was writing another novel and had begun it about four times because it didn’t want to behave itself.
2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?
Want to Know a Secret? is about money and family and which is most important (and to whom). I’m always surprised when people put money before people. It happened within my extended family and I thought, ‘It’s only money!’ So, Want to Know a Secret? explores how necessary money is for happiness. Diane, my heroine, has decided views (on this and everything else). James has pots of money but finds happiness elusive until he meets Diane and finds it moving enticingly closer. But then the unexpected happens.
3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
I want to continue writing romantic novels and achieve sufficient sales to concentrate on them rather than all the other writing-related stuff I do. Whether I actually like this reality when I achieve it or find I miss the variety of my current workload, is a whole other question …
4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
Gosh. There are sooooooo many – I read about three books a week. Dream Man by Linda Howard.
5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
Yes, Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice. It was the first adult novel I read, when I was nine. I loved it for the excitement and adventure and for the romance between Jean and Joe. I was blown away by the way in which Nevil Shute made it appear that all hope was gone – but then it wasn’t. Nevil Shute was a favourite of my father’s, too, and I used to enjoy discussing NS’s work with dad. I have everything NS ever published, I believe, even the posthumous stuff, which, I’m sure, he had good reason not to have submitted for publication.
6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?
No, of course not – wash out your mouth! They’re the best bits! I look forward to writing them. They’re the culmination of all the tension and plotting.
I have to say that not all the members of my family feel the same about reading them. My mum is embarrassed, my brother says it’s icky reading love scenes written by your sister and my son gives the book to his female flatmate to read to herself and then summarise for him.
7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?
I’ve been looking at the screen for a while, trying to summon up the archetypal romantic moment – and I’ve failed. The things that stick in my mind always include humour or they’re x-rated. Or both. My husband standing me on a step to propose to me, because I’m much shorter than he is … that’s the kind of things that I remember. For me, it’s much more memorable than if he’d gone down on one knee, which, I’m sure, would have made me feel ridiculous.
8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
About continuing education. I don’t mean taking a creative writing degree but about going to conferences and talks, not just to learn about the craft of writing but about current opportunities and to network with interesting and useful people. Joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association was the first step in this process – there are so many great, published, writers, that they gave me a can-do attitude. (If they can do it, I can …)
9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Don’t make enemies [in the publishing business].
10. Tell us about your latest release, Want to Know a Secret?
Diane Jenner finds her life turned upside down when her husband, Gareth, is in a helicopter crash and, in the aftermath, his double life is revealed. It’s not the normal kind of double life and Diane’s astounded at how easily and thoroughly he’s pulled the wool over her eyes, mostly because they live in a tiny, remote village in The Fens and Diane is isolated.
James, the one with the dosh, has become so used to the twin millstones of wife and fragile daughter around his neck that he’s almost forgotten how to grab his own happiness. Or maybe he just hasn’t wanted anything enough for a while? That changes when he finds himself part of the secrets so diligently kept for so long.
And, in the back of his Mercedes, he connects with Diane is a way that makes him want … well, you have to read the book.
I really enjoyed plotting this novel and was delighted with the result. I decided, in the end, that Diane did want to know the secrets. But, for a long time, I wondered.
11. What’s next for you?
I’m writing a book that, for now, is called Love and Freedom. It’s about Honor, an American woman who comes to England to track down her English mother who left her when she was a baby. This is another book where the plotting is going like a dream and all kinds of things are happening that I didn’t anticipate. I love unfurling a story slowly, never letting the reader see too far ahead into the journey but making it worth it when they get there.
After that I’m going to write Liza’s story. Liza is the sister of Cleo from All That Mullarkey and I really liked her. Cleo was a bit naughty and so is Liza.
And, after that (yes I really am planning this far ahead) I’m hoping to write a book set in the glittering world of Formula 1 racing. I love F1 but need to do quite a lot of research – there’s more to it than what I see on my TV. I’ve begun writing a column for www.girlracer.co.uk, wich I hope will help.
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