Q: How do you plan your writing day?
A: Just like my books, I don’t have a clear plan because every day is different. My first priority is always to walk Jake. Well, he doesn’t give me much choice in the matter. Then it’s breakfast. I must have coffee before I can function and drink it whilst checking and answering email and looking in on Twitter and Facebook. Then it depends. I can’t write until I’ve cleared the decks. I need to get all the routine stuff like shopping, housework and whatever out the way. Then the rest of the day is mine to use creatively. Until Jake starts nagging me for afternoon walkies, that is!
Q: What writers have most inspired you?
A: Well Jane Austen has to be right up there, of course, but I’m also a huge Daphne du Maurier fan. One of her ancestors was Mary Anne Clarke, the Duke of York’s infamous mistress. Given that I write historical romance, perhaps that’s not surprising. Frenchman’s Creek is probably my favourite love story of all time. And it doesn’t have a happy ending. What it does do is demonstrate the lengths to which a woman is prepared to go for the man she loves. I also enjoy Judith McNaught. I endeavour to write both historical fiction and the modern stuff too–always with rich, hunky, brooding men and feisty go-getting women. If I can do it half as well as Judith then I shall feel that I’ve achieved something worthwhile.
Q: Where is your favourite place to work?
A: In an ideal world I’d be sitting at my desk, surrounded by my research books, but because I live on two continents that’s not always possible. The upside of the digital age is being able to take so much stuff with me on my laptop when I move around. As long as I have an internet connection and a bit of peace and quiet I can work just about anywhere. I once spent the entire summer on a boat and completed a full length novel during that time.
Q: What made you start writing?
A: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. It was one of the few things that came naturally to me as a kid and I recall writing stories to entertain my friends, always with them taking starring roles, naturally! I wrote my first full-length novel at fifteen and my second when I was in my early twenties, (and no, I’m not admitting how long ago that was!). Then life took over and I only came back to writing seriously a few years back. And just so that you know, the book I wrote in my twenties forms the basis of the plot in one of my novels. Moral of the story: never throw anything away.
Q: How much research do you do for your novels?
A: I learned a hard lesson with my first one. Part of it was set in Egypt two hundred years ago and I did endless research into the way things were back then. I was very proud of the stuff I put in about the library at Alexandria, the Rosetta Stone, the pyramids and so much more. Until my editor told me to cut it all. She made me understand that it was a novel, not a history lesson, and that unless something drove the story forward it didn’t need to be in there, slowing things down. I’ve never forgotten that advice and now I just let the ideas flow and only research when I need to. I seldom do any in advance.
Q: Why are you now only writing for e-publishers?
A: My first five novels were published by a traditional British publisher but I was ambitious for more. However, times are changing beyond recognition and the e-world is taking over. For me it makes perfect sense because of my nomadic lifestyle. I can’t guarantee to be in the right place, (or even on the right continent), to promote print books at any given time. With e-books, promotion on-line can be done anywhere. I love the whole concept and am delighted at the way people across the age divide are now reading on their hand-held devices. Paper books will never die, thank goodness, but there’s certainly room for both.
Q: What do you do when you’re not writing?
A: I travel a lot between America and Europe, so when I am in one place I pretty much like to stay put and enjoy being ‘home’. I play a little bit of tennis (very badly), I walk for miles with Jake and I read. All the time. I have a three-book-a-week habit to feed. I also enjoy eating and drink far too much wine but everyone has to have a vice, don’t they?
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
A: I guess I started writing in the historical genre because I was brought up on the Isle of Wight. We have more history in that little place than you could shake a stick at. Queen Victoria’s Island retreat is literally five minutes away from my childhood home. We also have Carisbrooke Castle where Charles I was imprisoned before having his head chopped off, plus castles and Roman villas by the score. I think I probably absorbed the atmosphere like osmosis and it went from there.
Nowadays when writing books I draw on real life experiences all the time. They say the truth is stranger than fiction, don’t they? I just included a passage in a book about a tennis club in which it transpires that someone making pornographic films in England escaped imprisonment because he’d declared his occupation on his tax return as Pornographer. I actually know someone who did that but am waiting for my editor to query something so far fetched.
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