I’ve written stories all my life (at least, from when I was first able to write!). I was a voracious reader as a child and my first stories were about the characters in the books I read – school, pony and theatre stories in particular. From there, I started inventing my own characters and, as I progressed to my teens, my stories became romances, written for my friends. In my twenties, I expanded one of these stories to novel-length and it was accepted by Mills and Boon here in the
(way back in the 1960’s!). UK
2) Tell me a little about your blog - address, how long you've been blogging etc.
I started my own blog in late 2009, but didn’t do very much with it until earlier this year when I decided to kick start it into action again. Taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge in April was a great way to make new blogging friends. In late 2009 I also joined a group blog (http://heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com/) which is still going strong. There are 5 of us, and we choose a topic for each week then all write about the topic. It’s been great to be part of this group. I find some of the topics fairly easy but others are more challenging and really made me work out my own ideas about them. I learn a lot from the others’ posts too.
3) I see you are working on a MS - please tell me a little about it - Title, genre, how you got the idea etc.
My current ‘work in progress’ is ‘A Nile Romance’, a contemporary romance about a tour guide on a Nile cruise ship and an archaeologist who works in the famous Valley of the Kings, near Luxor. The idea came when I went on a Nile Cruise last October, One afternoon I was relaxing on the sundeck, and started to wonder if a ‘hero’ could vault the rails from one moored cruise ship to another! From that has developed a far more complex novel than I initially imagined, with old feuds threatening the relationship between the hero and heroine. I’m still trying to work out how to get them together for their ‘happy ever after’ ending!
4) What other styles do you write - genre novels, poetry, articles, memoirs etc.
I’ve always been a contemporary romance writer and I have to admit that other genre novels don’t really interest me (as a writer). Although I’m an historian by profession, I’ve no real desire to write an historical novel – the research scares me, because the historian in me wouldn’t accept anything but total accuracy, and I’d have to spend too much time researching every little thing! I had a long break from fiction writing after the mid-80’s. In the 90’s I wrote articles for the national Girl Guide magazine here in the
. I had my own ‘slot’ for about 5 years, and wrote an article each month, mainly ideas for group leaders but also training articles for district leaders. I also had a small booklet published with ideas for youth leaders. UK
5) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing?
I’m in my 60’s now and retired after about 25 years of teaching history in high schools, so it’s basically a hobby. Even in the heady days of the 60’s and 70’s when my books were published by Mills and Boon, and also Harlequin, I didn’t earn enough to live on, despite the very welcome checks every six months. So I’ve no illusions about earning millions from my writing, even though that would be very nice!
6) What authors do you admire?
My favourite author is Sharon Penman, who writes historical novels. Her research is superb, and she also brings to life people from the past. I have a lot of other favourite authors, usually historical authors like John Jakes (I love his Civil War trilogy) and Edward Rutherfurd, who has written sagas centred around specific places from past to present – at the moment I’m reading his book about
7) What music, places, people inspire you?
Places inspire me the most. My second novel, ‘Fragrance of Violets’ (to be released early next year) is set mainly in England’s Lake District, which I know and love.
A year ago, I couldn’t ever have imagined setting a novel in Egypt, but my trip there inspired my current novel. More recently, I was in Ireland, and visited a place which was used as a location for the movie ‘The Quiet Man’ (with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara). A cottage there has been transformed into the cottage in the movie, and in the visitor’s book I saw Maureen O’Hara’s signature (she was there the day before we visited – bad timing, what?) But that triggered an idea for a future novel.
8) What do you do when you have writer's block?
I don’t think I get writer’s block as such, but I do get stuck sometimes on how to get my characters from A to B in my novels (or in some cases from Y to Z!). Most times I tend to write through that – hard to explain but I let the characters sort themselves out! I might eventually delete some of what I write, but at least it has got my characters from one important point to another in the novel.
9) Have you submitted anything yet? Even a letter to an editor, written for high school publications, other blogs etc?
Short answer – lots of times! I’ve been incredibly lucky, actually. The first novel I wrote in the 60’s was accepted by the first publisher to whom I sent it, with a contract for 2 more which I duly supplied. Another novel was accepted by Robert Hale (UK) in the 70’s. More recently, ‘His Leading Lady’ was accepted, as a first submission, by Whiskey Creek and they have also accepted my second novel ‘Fragrance of Violets’.
10) How long did it take you to write your latest release?
I wrote it, put it aside for a couple of months, then went back to it and, with the help of my two critique partners, tightened it up. So, all in all, probably about 9 months. A bit like the gestation of a baby, actually!
11) Are you part of a critique group or writer's guild?
I have two great critique partners. I couldn’t survive without them! They’re totally honest, which is what I value the most. They’ve helped me to improve my writing and to see when something isn’t working right. They’ve also brainstormed ideas with me when I’ve got ‘stuck’ at some point of the plot. I’ve learnt a lot from critiquing their stories too, so it’s a two-way process.
12) Where do you live - city, state?
I live just outside the city of
Manchester in the north-west of . I have been here for 45+ years, although I grew up in a medium-sized town about 35 miles away. So I’ve lived in north-west England all my life, and I love this area. There is so much history, going right back to the Romans, and so much beautiful countryside surrounding the city. I can be in the countryside in about 15 minutes. England
13) When working on your novels do you complete an outline first or did you just start writing?
I’m basically a pantser. When I start a novel, I have a vague idea where it’s going and what the ending will be, but I let my characters lead me. It’s a voyage of discovery with them, even though they do things that surprise me at times, and then leave me to sort out the problems they have created! When I started ‘His Leading Lady’ I had some basic ideas but my characters added other ideas. With my ‘
Nile Romance’ I had no idea when I first started that it was going to be as complex as it has become!
14) What is your writing process like? Certain hours that you find more productive, a routine, a set amount of time or a number of pages you make yourself write everday etc.
I’m a night owl, my brain works better in the evenings. This is possibly a throwback to when I was teaching, so evenings were my only time to write. Or maybe simply that I just don’t ‘do’ mornings! I’m in awe of people who can start writing at 6am! Maybe they are in awe of me that I can still be writing at 1am! I don’t set myself any word or page targets. Sometimes I can agonise over 20 words, other times I can write 2,000 with no problem.
15) Would you care to share your latest release with us?
‘His Leading Lady’ was released in June by Whiskey Creek Press. It’s a contemporary romance, set mainly in
London’s West End theatre world. Jess Harper’s predictable life is turned upside down when she discovers that Lora, her twin sister, has disappeared. It’s just a week before rehearsals are due to start for a new West End musical in which Lora has the lead role. Jess decides to pose as her sister in order to save Lora's career. This brings her into close contact with arrogant theatre director Kyle Drummond. Attraction sparks between them but there’s also evidence that he had been dating Lora. So is Jess simply a substitute – in real life as well as in the show? And what will happen when Lora eventually returns?
The first chapter is available as a ‘free read’ on the Whiskey Creek website –