How old you when you wrote your first story?
Writing was something that came easily to me and I never thought much about it when I was younger. My first memory about writing seriously was when I was around 12 and I read stories in my mother’s weekly magazine. I thought they were terrible and I could do much better. My plan was to write similar types of stories but higher quality. I never did, however. I forgot all about writing completely until I was asked to write something for my local twins club newsletter nearly three decades later. I loved writing about my sons’ antics (I have a lot of comic material from their early years) and the article was well received. But another ten years went by before I wrote again. This time I wrote posts for a blog to promote a rummage sale my kid’s school was putting on to raise funds. Again it was fun, it was well received and we raised $32,000 in a day and a half. That was when I thought I might be on to something. I started a blog after that and again told stories but mostly to illustrate points I was trying to make. I didn’t start writing fiction until 2015.
What genre was that story?
Cozy mystery. I’d initially thought I’d write romance until it occurred to me that I had spent my whole life reading mysteries so why on earth did I think I could write romance?
Which city do you like best, London or San Francisco? Why?
Truth be told, I like the countryside best. As an introvert, cities are very stimulating to me. They wear me out. I much prefer green fields, wide open spaces, peace and quiet. Give me somewhere to stay in the countryside, a computer, and good internet access, and I would never leave.
Have you always travelled? What do you like do when you travel?
I started travelling in my mid twenties. Up until that point I still lived and worked in my hometown in England. Almost overnight, like a rash, I developed this need to travel. My hometown suddenly felt claustrophobic to me and I immediately began making plans to extricate myself from the life I’d built up. It took me six months to rent my home, leave my career, and get the necessary paperwork together but I did it and went backpacking for a year followed by four years working in Northern Europe for my employer. Then I moved to the US, so in a way I was still travelling. Now I travel just between the US and the UK and do so anywhere between two and six times a year. I visit family and like to show our boys where I grew up. When the boys were younger we would do things that I used to do as a kid – go swimming, visit the parks, do traditional English activities like attending village fetes. Now they are older we do touristy type things in the cities.
Where do write from?
I write mostly at home. I have converted our dining room into my office space. I’m not one for hosting dinner parties. ☺
How much support do you receive in relation to your writing and eventual publication?
I’ve totally relied on support from others to get my writing out into the world. As I mentioned earlier, writing came easily to me and because of that, I never really valued it as a skill. I was just something I did. I never thought I could turn it into a career. My husband has been a big supporter of mine and told me years ago that I was one of the best writers he’d come across. That was a huge boost to me because he’s no writing slouch himself. Over the years it has been the feedback of others that has given me the confidence to write professionally.
If you could do only one form of writing, would you write stories or keep a blog? Why?
Without question, I would choose to write stories. I’ve had several blogs and while they take a lot of time, they lack the permanence of books. When one writes and publishes a fiction book, you are producing an asset that will provide a return over years and years potentially. Blog posts don’t do that, they are temporary, transitory.
Are your characters based on people you know or have met? Do they just ‘come to you’?
Mostly they come to me, or develop over the course of writing a book from a kernel of an idea. I don’t base characters on people I’ve met but I’ve studied human behavior all my life and I find the characters intuitively take on characteristics of people I’ve observed.
How much research do you do for your books?
I’ve grew up experiencing the worlds in my books so there’s that. I would go on holiday as a child to Cornwall where the Reverend Annabelle stories are based. I’ve been in relationships like the one between Diana and Peter in the Diana Hunter mysteries. Like everyone of my age, I’ve experienced the ups and downs of life. That experience gets to go into my writing. For specific stories, I will do technical research to get facts right when I don’t have personal experience. Google is my friend.
What surprised you most about the publishing process?
How many moving parts there are to the process from an idea to a successful book. There are hundreds of steps and that doesn’t include writing the book!
What do you want your obituary to say? What do you want engraved on your headstone?
That I was kind, fair, insightful, and funny. “She loved making others laugh.”
Totally agree with your husband! Your Annabelle, and inspector Graham, are the best cozies I have read in years, along with another Brit by the name of Brian Porter! Hope and pray you’re feeling better!