Freya Garth comes from ancient Celtic stock with a genetically useful mix of Irish, Welsh and Scottish forebears. At her birth, the fairies gave her a lively imagination, a positive outlook and a great deal of determination. She is tall, quite slim, with white skin, dark hair with silver streaks, and eyes that change from blue to green to grey depending on the light and what she is wearing. She lives in a sleepy English market town with her beloved partner and their three adorable cats. When she is not writing about imaginary worlds, her favourite occupations are reading, cooking, socialising, and confounding stereotypes. It has taken her years to learn to write well enough to be published, and she loves the idea that her stories can entertain people.
Q: What is your motivation for writing?
A: You might as well ask a fish about its motivation for swimming. I write because I can’t not write. I’ve written stories all of my life. It’s part of me. I have a very vivid imagination, but I simply cannot imagine a time when I don’t write.
Q: What is your writing routine?
A: One thousand words each evening after dinner, Sunday to Thursday. I sit on my sofa, feet up, with my laptop on a sofa table and cushions at my back. I like the room to be quiet so I can hear my characters talking inside my head. Liquid refreshment is essential: usually a glass of red wine with the first 500 words and a cup of tea with the second. Particularly difficult scenes may be fuelled by a finger of cognac and a few squares of dark chocolate.
Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
A: The first draft takes about three months. Then I spend a couple of weeks editing and polishing before sending it to my publisher. After that, I have to wait until I hear whether or not they like my book. Rather than checking my emails every 15 seconds round the clock, I usually deal with my anxiety by starting work on the next book.
Q: Can you take criticism?
A: I welcome any criticism of my writing if it’s constructive. However, I wouldn’t appreciate someone just telling me they think my books are rubbish, because that doesn’t help me make them better. I have worked hard for a long time to reach the point where I write well enough to be published, but I know I can always improve. In fact, that’s one of the things that keeps me interested: trying to make each book better than the last. It’s impossible to critique your own writing, so other people’s views are invaluable. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t received, and used, a great deal of helpful criticism over the years.
Q: Who is your favourite writer, and what kind of books do you most like to read?
A: More than anything, I love writers who can tell wonderful satisfying stories, in almost any genre, such as Terry Pratchett, JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman and Robert B Parker. I can’t read horror, though, however good the storytelling; it gives me nightmares. My favourite genre is fantasy, and I also enjoy non-fiction, particularly travel writing, and of course erotica.
Q: Do you plan what you write, or does it take you by surprise?
A: I plan ahead a little. I have to know some things about the characters before I start; in particular I need some idea of their priorities and problems. But a lot of it takes me by surprise, and I enjoy that part. I like to give my characters some say in the story’s development— after all, it’s their story— but I also like to be one step ahead of them so that I don’t let them go too far.
Q: Who is your biggest fan?
A: My sister, even though she’s never read any of my books. I don’t mind at all because I know they’re not the kind of books she prefers to read. But I can’t tell you how much I value her unswerving conviction that I’m the best writer on the planet.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A: Write some more. Or read. I also love to cook, and to spend time with friends and family. And I adore taking holidays, because they give me so much time to read (and write).
Q: How can writers stay sane?
A: I don’t think you can be sane and be a writer. I have lots of people and creatures and worlds in my head, and I have a compulsion to string words together repeatedly; how can that be described as ‘sane’? We’re all somewhere on the scale from ‘eccentric’ to ‘psycho’. My psychiatrist says I score ‘loopy’ on this scale. Luckily for me, she’s not real; I made her up.
Q: Who would play you in the film of your life?
A: Catherine Zeta Jones. She looks exactly like me. Honest.
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