blurb (c) Phoenix Yard Books
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0709087535&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrCharity’s Child, 2008, Circaidy Gregory Press
Low Tide, Lunan Bay, 2009, Robert Hale
What inspired you to write your book?
What got me going was a Winchester Writers’ Conference Competition which asked for the beginning of a book for age 12+. But I’m not sure where the particular idea came from. I’ve always been fascinated by twins and I’m also interested in psychology and how we cope with trauma in our lives. Anna, my main character, popped up from nowhere – she was suddenly there in my head, telling me about her life.
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1907912029&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrWhat is it about?
It’s about a 12 year old girl, Anna, who believes her twin sister Chloe now lives inside her (Anna’s) head. Anna is happy with this arrangement, unlike her family and friends, who definitely aren’t. Or most of them aren’t, anyway. Gorgeous Joe likes both twins and can’t make up his mind. And Lisa Major, a bully, is determined to give Anna a hard time. Then Chloe starts making trouble and things get scary as she tries to take over Anna’s life.
Does Anna have a duel personality? A bit like Sybil where 12 alter egos “lived” inside her?
That’s one way of looking at it – though in Anna’s case it’s a temporary effect of the trauma she has suffered. It is more about Anna and her twin, but the romance with Joe is important too, and the two stories intertwine.
Was there a character you struggled with?
I made Lisa an out-and-out baddie, which I didn’t really like, but there wasn’t the space for anything more. I’m hoping to write a sequel where I will develop her character further and present her point of view.
How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
Phew – you’d have to ask the moths and millipedes, who may have already munched their way through quite a few! But I should say 3 complete novels, a few more abandoned ones and lots of yellowing ideas…
How did you find your publisher?
I found Phoenix Yard through the Wordpool website. They had only just got going so they weren’t in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, which is my usual source. They have been fantastic throughout. I submitted in December 2009 and Emma Langley contacted me on Christmas Eve to ask to see the full manuscript (that was a lovely Christmas treat). I sent it off in early January and by the end of January she got back to say they were interested in publishing. The contract was signed by the end of February, and for the next few months we the manuscript tooed and froed between us as Emma made various suggestions and I made changes. There was never any real conflict – I felt her vision for the book coincided with my own. She had some great insights and saw things in the story I’d missed. It’s a better book now, all credit to her. I would strongly recommend Phoenix Yard Books. They are relatively new but clearly going places! See their website at http://www.phoenixyardbooks.com/
How do your juggle a writing schedule?
My children are grown up so I don’t have to worry about them anymore. Well, I do worry about them, of course, but you know what I mean. I took early retirement in 2006 and so I’m lucky enough it be able to spend most of my day on writing-related things – new work, editing, researching and so on. I try to get the housework out of the way early on and fit in a walk or run around lunchtime. My main battle is not to eat too much chocolate between chapters!
What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
Best: early on in a new book, when the characters take on a life of their own and you realise your main job is to sit back and listen. I love writing dialogue, too. Worst: I suppose the rejections. I’ve had some near misses with agents which have been painful. And the days when the writing doesn’t flow. But it’s a pretty good life and I try not to agonise too much – as someone reminded me recently, it’s not brain surgery and no one dies if I mess up.
What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
First thing in the morning, when the critical part of my brain is still asleep, I’m still in touch with my dreamy side and the ideas can flow freely. I keep a notebook and pen by my bed and often write 2 or 3 pages before I get up.
Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
Early ideas and drafts are always black ink on smooth white paper. Second draft (or sometimes partway through the first) I move to the computer.
What/who do you draw inspiration from?
From the books I read, I suppose. I enjoy both literary and genre fiction, anything from Coetzee to chick-lit. My favourite authors of all time are Tove Jansson (the Moomin books), Richmal Crompton (Just William) and Hilary Mantel.
Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
I make myself write at least 1000 words a day. Once that’s done I can relax. Often I do much more, especially as I get towards the end of a book.
What are you working on now that you can talk about?
Latest venture is an SF book for adults that seems to be turning out somewhat ‘experimental’ – and may have to be an eBook for that reason. All very exciting. It’s about robots that are intelligent and conscious, and it’s the first time I’ve really used my professional knowledge in my fiction
How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
I have *kind of* got used to them – they certainly don’t hurt the way they used to. I tend to expect rejection and be pleasantly surprised at anything else. But some are still painful, especially the ones where you’ve had your hopes raised. I’m beginning to wonder whether I’ll ever get an agent, but I’ve found 3 publishers on my own so perhaps I’m doing something right!
Do you have a critique partner?
Not exactly, though I belong to two writers’ groups, one online and one that meets in a pub. Both are great for feedback, encouragement and advice.