What made you become a writer?
It always seemed natural for me to write stories. I started my first novel when I was fourteen, passing it to my friends at school to read under the desk during maths lessons! I finished my first novel just after graduating and the only year I didn’t write any fiction was when I was doing my teacher training. So, I’ve always written and don’t see that ever stopping.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere! I was inspired to write Molly’s Millions by junk mail, so inspiration can really come from anything. Most of my books are inspired by my own passions like Jane Austen, roses and big country houses. I often start with a place and wonder about the people who might live there. But, sometimes, a character comes first or a theme I’d like to explore.
Do you plan your novels?
To a certain extent. I start with a vague idea about the characters, the setting and what’s going to happen by the end, but most of the plot happens as I’m actually writing. I believe this keeps things fresh and exciting for both me and my readers. I love that element of surprise when a character takes on a life of their own. That’s so much fun! I have an A4 file for each novel in which I keep character profile sheets, a spider diagram of the cast and any photographs of the locations used. These things are especially important when writing a series as it’s hard to hold all that information in you head!
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Never give up! It took me years to become a full-time writer, but I never let go of my dream because writing was all I ever wanted to do. You have to be totally driven by your passion to complete a novel and to send it out into the world. There is a lot of rejection – from agents, editors and readers. Not everyone is going to like your books, but you have to believe in yourself if you’re going to make it. Write lots, read lots, and then write lots more. Have a routine and guard your writing time. If you’re independently publishing, really work on building your backlist before worrying about spending money on marketing. It’s really hard to sell just one book so write and publish at least three and then make sure you have a professional website, a newseltter for readers to sign up to, and a presence on the main social media platforms. Like anything worth doing well, it can take time to build a platform.
Will you read a novel I’ve written and give me some advice?
I’m sorry, but I get so many requests like this and I simply don’t have the time to do that and write my own books.
Who are your favourite writers?
I love H E Bates and Miss Read – they’re my go-to writers if I need cheering up especially the Darling Buds of May books and the Fairacre series. I also love Rosamunde Pilcher, Debbie Macomber, Robyn Carr, Mary Alice Monroe, Jane Austen, Ronald Blythe and the Ben Hope thrillers of Scott Mariani.
Which of your own books is your favourite?
That’s a really tough question! I have a few which are very special to me. Flights of Angels will always be a bit special because it was the first book I had published and it was also made in to a film. I’m also incredibly proud of The Rose Girls because it’s a little darker than my normal fiction and explores themes that are very personal to me. The Book Lovers and A Weekend with Mr Darcy are also very dear to me because they each launched a series. But my favourite setting is that in Love in an English Garden. I would love to live at Orley Court! I also adore the unusual relationships in that story which were a lot of fun to write.
Do you have any favourite characters?
Would you be surprised if I said that my favourite hero is Dan Harcourt from the Austen Addicts series? I think he’s a favourite with a lot of my readers too! I also adore Katherine Roberts because she can be so serious and I love seeing her lighter side when she’s with Warwick. Celeste Hamilton from The Rose Girls is also special to me because she goes through so much before finding her happy ending.
Will there be any more in the Austen Addicts series?
I’m not planning anything at the moment as I’m focussing on my Book Lovers series, but I really miss Katherine and Warwick and Robyn and Dan, and would love to see what they’re all up to, so you never know …
And how about the Mulberry Cottage series?
This will probably remain a trilogy but I might be tempted to write some more one day.
Why aren’t all your books available in print?
Some of my novellas and the Mulberry Cottage books are too short to print successfully, but we’re planning to bring out a collection of these books so I hope they’ll be available soon.
I want to make one of your books into a film/TV series. Who should I contact?
For all rights enquiries, including foreign language, please contact me here.
What would you be if you weren’t a writer?
I’m passionate about the environment and conservation and used to work as a volunteer for the National Trust. I’m also fascinated by the world of film and have always thought that the job of location scout would be fun – linking my two loves of story-telling and historic buildings.