Q. If you could spend the next year dedicating your writing to just one character, who would it be and why?
A. None of them, actually. My books and characters are like babies to me and at some point, as with all children, it becomes necessary to let them go. That doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes revisit characters. Like Stephen King, I’ll often write a new novel that alludes to characters in a previous novel (though unlike Stephen King I don’t get paid as much for doing it).
Q. What do you like to read?
A. Anything and everything. I read literary novels, and popular novels, horror, romance, sci-fi, crime. It’s a popular misconception that romance writers and readers only read romances. All I care about is that a story is good. As an example of my wide-ranging tastes, I’ve just read Freya Garth’s The Dragon Rider’s Woman, Stephen King’s11.22.63 and several Barbara Cartland ‘Pink Collection’ ebooks (I’m an unashamed fan of Barbara’s).
Q. When you start a new book, do you think of the characters first, or an incident in the story?
A. It varies. Sometimes the characters come first, and sometimes it’s the story. However, even with a good idea for a story it doesn’t really come to life until I know the characters.
Q. Once you develop a main character, do you then think about using him/her again?
A. It depends what I’m writing. In a romance, it’s unlikely I’d use a main character again, because my romances tend to be very self-contained. Once the HEA has been achieved, the story is pretty much over. But sometimes characters appear in cameo roles in other books. It’s a way of catching up with them.
Q. How do you come up with a plot?
A. Like a lot of writers I take my inspiration from everywhere. Anyone familiar with my pocket novels will find lots of references to old films, particularly Hitchcock, and I’ll often take the plot of an old film but rewrite it in my own way, giving it a modern twist. But a plot or idea on its own doesn’t necessarily make a good story. It needs characters and a story should always be character led, rather than plot led. It’s the characters that writers remember.
Q. Once you have the plot, how do you develop it?
A. I don’t plan, though I may sometimes write a brief summary to give me an idea where I want the story to go. But most of the planning takes place in my head over a couple of days, keeping me awake at night. Only when the characters are screaming at me to tell their story will I actually sit down and write as by then I know I’ve got a viable story. It doesn’t always work out. My hard drive is full of first chapters that went nowhere.
Q. How do you create a memorable and interesting main character?
A. You have to make them real people, even if the circumstances aren’t naturally realistic. For example, how many billionaires are gorgeous men in their thirties who just happen to fall in love with ordinary girls? You also have to give them faults, though the faults have to be forgivable. Heroines in particular have to be the sort of girl that other women would like to sit down and have a glass of wine with.
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