Now that some people might have taken the time to read some of my ridiculous stories from my past, or even my first novel, Learning Italian, I thought I might attempt to answer some typical questions one might ask an author. So, in the absence of having any questions myself, I took to the good old internet to find some. Of course, I’ve cherry picked the ones I can actually give some sort of meaningful response to because some of them were quite honestly weird. Here goes!
What is the first book that made you cry?
During my teenage years, when I was wallowing in hormones and attempting to grow up into some sort of functioning adult, I used to love a good cry. I purposely chose weep worthy films and felt cheated if they didn’t induce a session whereby, I leaked from my eyes and questioned the meaning of life. However, now that I am a semi-responsible adult, I’ve done a 180 and tend to avoid such misery. I can write about it, put my characters through hell if I want to, but I can’t cope with watching it anymore. 13 Reasons Why literally had me bawling like a baby! To answer the question, however, the first book to make me cry was Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, which I don’t think I even need to explain why. I ate that book up and it made me throw up tears and sobs. To be fair, most of Picoult’s books do, with my favourite being Leaving Time.
Have you ever had reader’s block?
It took me a long time to get into reading, to find my genre of interest, but when I did, I became a little obsessed. When I was in Year 3, and my attention span was at best, sporadic, I went onto free readers fairly quickly. However, the teacher (poor Mrs Brown in her hand made cardies, short, back and sides haircut and plasters on nearly all of her fingers) noticed I would frequently start books but rarely ever finished them. She asked one of the brightest girls in Year 6 to come and show me some of her favourites, which she did. She showed me ‘Tumbleweed’ by Dick King-Smith and I instantly fell in love with his writing, then moved onto Enid Blyton and Shakespeare (randomly). When I find an author I like, I tend to binge read all their work, hit a bit of a slump for a while, then force myself to find someone new. I now read so much I hardly watch TV anymore. I guess no one can create the pictures I can inside of my own head.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write what I write because that’s what comes to me. I chose romance because it’s what I read but also because it can encompass more than a ‘romantic’ relationship. I like to explore the connections between more than just the romantic plot of the two main characters. For example, those between the hero and his parents, or the bond between siblings and their friends. I also like to write stories that happen over time, which is why I often include flashbacks. I personally feel you need to have some history to a character if you want to give them and their story a little more depth. Some authors achieve this through dialogue, flashbacks or a character’s private thoughts. I use a variety of devices. Which one all depends on the story and how well it fits in. I also write different subgenres of romances, including comedies and suspense. I’ve even had a go at a historical romance because this is what inspired me at the time. I have the benefit of writing as well as having a teaching career, which means I can write what I like and not have to worry too much about it being widely accepted. I want people to enjoy my work, of course I do, but I won’t let it rule what I put out there. To be fair, I don’t think I could.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’ve discovered that self-publishing is a very sociable process. I’ve had to come out of my comfort zone to reach out to people on Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, as well as putting myself out there on this website. A few other, well-established authors have reached out to new writers, which I think is awesome. TL Swan (The Stanton Trilogy, The Stopover, The Takeover, Our Way and many more) has particularly gone out of her way to help aspiring authors and has given so many of us brilliant advice and insights, to which I am extremely grateful for. I’ve connected with an American author, Nikki Paris (Sure Pal, Ok Cutie, Fine Dork) and we’ve begun Beta reading for one another, which is extremely helpful seeing as I’ve set some of my stories in the States. Cactus Buzz, a company which specialises in marketing and editing for Indie Authors, came into contact with me through a Facebook group, as well as Liz Wilde and Tanya Caruso who offered to Beta read for me too. At first it was daunting but now it feels pretty amazing to be talking to people around the globe.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I started writing a few years ago so have already got quite a number of works written as a first draft. It took me at least a year to let anyone read my work, and that person was my mum. She, as well as my friends were asked not to judge me for the naughty scenes, to which I was laughed and informed I was totally going to be judged for it. Once I got past this horrifying notion, I eventually felt able to share it with not only the people I know and love, but also other book thirsty people like me. I have this year’s books virtually ready to go, next year’s books written and ready to be sent to my editor, and the following year’s work written as a first draft. All being well, I plan to release three to four books a year. However, if they’re not up to scratch I won’t hold myself to that. It doesn’t serve anyone well to release a half-arsed attempt:
|2021||Learning Italian –Available now on Amazon KU (Romantic Comedy) The Darkness Within – Early Summer 2021 (Romantic Suspense) Unnamed Romantic Comedy– Autumn 2021 Unnamed Romantic Comedy Novella Giveaway|
|2022||Unnamed Trilogy – A dark romance/romantic suspense (all written and edited so no need to worry about it not being completed!) Unnamed Romantic Comedy-This is a secondary character’s story from my upcoming release, The Darkness within.|
These are works I have planned to release because they are written, edited and ready to go. I have others but wouldn’t want to promise something which isn’t ready yet.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Oh my goodness, yes! This whole process has taught me to always review people’s work and to leave feedback, even if it’s only a few words. Sometimes it’s hard to hear, but if it’s constructive then I’m all for it. Having taught for over ten years, I’m more than used to getting feedback from people like head teachers, colleagues and (dum dum dum!) the dreaded Ofsted! Every artist wants to hear if people have enjoyed their work and will appreciate it if they have any pointers. Sometimes I can’t change things people don’t like because that’s their personal preference (e.g. one beta reader found the sex scenes too graphic, while another one loved them). The only reviews I tend to ignore when picking a book for myself to read, are those that slate a book for no real reason, it just wasn’t their cup of tea. Learning Italian has received some great reviews so far, to which I’m very grateful for. Some people have made comments I can take away with me, which will hopefully make me a better writer in the future. Please, please, leave reviews for any artist because it helps not only the author but those looking for their next read too. Much love to those who already have!
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I use lots of anecdotes from my own life, and those of people who are close to me. Elise’s house in Twickenham, from Learning Italian, is based on my grandparent’s old home. There was a cherry tree, a couple of old sheds full of junk and a rotary phone attached to the wall in the hallway. The bathroom was downstairs, which frequently led to a battle of wills against my bladder in the middle of the night. These little details make the stories all the more special for me and I love including them when and where I can.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
Absolutely. I am very fortunate. And my friends, those guys are awesome too! Sometimes my four- year-old will literally lie across my lap when I’m tapping away on my laptop, and my husband does moan about me ‘being on my machine’, but he offers his full support when it counts. We’re definitely one of those couples who like to bicker…frequently!
Anyhew, that’s me. Thanks for reading. My next blog will be all about romance novels verses real life!