1. Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
It all comes down to when my children sleep! I’ve just had a baby so she’s not in any routine at the moment, but my toddler son still has a two hour nap, so that’s when I write. I have to be very motivated to sit down and crack on rather than tidy the house or watch telly, etc, but usually I end up doing most of my work in the three months before my final deadline. I work better under pressure.
2. When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
Most of my characters are a figment of my imagination, but I pictured Johnny from Johnny Be Good looking a bit like Kurt Cobain, and I imagined Will from Chasing Daisy to look a little like F1 racing driver Nico Rosberg.
3. What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
I adore Marian Keyes and I think my favourite of hers is her most recent, The Brightest Star In The Sky. She’s so brilliant at making you laugh and cry. If I could write one tenth as well as her, I’d be delighted!
4. What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I’m writing my fifth book at the moment and already have the idea for book six in my head. I always think about the next book while I’m writing the one before, so by the time I come to write a synopsis, I’ve got a pretty good idea about what’s going to happen. Of course a book develops as you write it, and new characters are introduced, but on the whole my stories don’t digress from the way I imagined them in the beginning.
5. What was journey to being a published author?
I was exceptionally lucky. I used to be the reviews editor at heat magazine so I knew many publicists, but became friends with Nigel Stoneman from Simon & Schuster. One Wednesday lunchtime we were having a catch up and Nige said I should write a book. He’d said it flippantly before, but this time I had an idea – the plot for Lucy In The Sky. Nigel loved it and said he’d go straight back to the office to tell his publishing director Suzanne Baboneau – now my lovely editor. Five minutes after I got back to my desk there was an email from her asking to meet. I wrote the synopsis that weekend, plus the first three chapters. I met her on the following Wednesday for breakfast, and by Friday morning had been offered a two-book deal. I suggested I write it in three months for publication the following spring – she went for it! It was the best time of my life (prior to having children!) as I’ve wanted to be an author ever since I was a little girl.
6. What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That it could never happen to you. It can and does happen to ordinary people so if you think you have a gift for writing and a good idea, don’t ever give up.
7. What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Don’t be too scared to start writing. Millions of people get book deals so there’s no reason why you can’t be one of them. Get yourself a copy of the Writers & Artists Yearbook for advice on how to approach agents, because most authors do go down this route in order to get themselves published (I didn’t need to in the end, but that’s very unusual). Also, always enjoy what you’re writing. If you don’t enjoy writing it, chances are your readers won’t enjoy reading it, so if you find yourself getting stuck on a scene, move on to another one or lose it completely.