Frequently Asked Questions
1. What got you into writing?
I always enjoyed writing at school and was lucky enough to have a great English teacher called Mrs Pocock. Her encouragement gave me the guts to send off my first short story to Just Seventeen when I was fourteen years old. It was accepted for publication and, though I’ve had plenty of rejections since, that early vote of confidence made me believe I could make my living from writing one day.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you?
Hmmm. It starts with tea, lots of it, then way too much messing around on the internet, then I force myself to do a hundred words. If I’m lucky, the words start to flow so well that I forget to be distracted by Facebook. If not, I reward myself with another quick trawl of the net and proceed like that: 100 words, five minutes on-line, until I hit my target for the day, which can be 1000 or 4000 words depending on my deadline. It’s usually about 2500 words, which sound like a lot but is really only eight pages of A4.
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Of course I get writers’ block, in that there are days when I don’t feel inspired, but I pay my mortgage by writing so there’s no way I can give in and wait weeks for the muse to show up again. I plan my novels meticulously, chapter by chapter, so there’s usually a part of the book I can skip ahead to, coming back to the sticky part that’s blocking me later on.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story?
As I explained in my approach to writer’s block, I plan my novels very carefully so that I can write them quickly (the shortest deadline I’ve ever had was two months for 90,000 words!). I based my method on traditional screenwriting structure and you can read all about it in my e-book, Writing for Love.
5. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors?
I published my first novel almost twenty years ago and the publishing process has changed enormously. In some ways, it’s easier now. In other ways, it’s harder. Publishers are probably more cautious now, especially since the downturn, but the good news is, if nobody in the traditional publishing world wants to put your book out there, you can put it out there yourself online. Et voila, the next Fifty Shades…
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author?
Getting to visit the cellars at Bollinger – and taste the champagne! – in the name of research for my Olivia Darling novel ‘Vintage’.
7. What do you enjoy doing besides writing?
I spend way too much time on Pinterest, creating my ideal fantasy wardrobe. But when I’m not at my desk, I like to take long walks with the people I love. Especially by the sea.
8. What is your all time favourite book(s)?
All-time favourite is impossible to choose, but I just read Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and loved it. She is such a wonderful writer and that book is a tour de force. 800 pages and I devoured every single one without once feeling the need to skip ahead. She creates such real, vulnerable characters, you just don’t want to leave them alone.
9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why?
Pippa Middleton, for all the free handbags.