I worked in education for nearly forty years, training as a physics teacher and ending up as the Headmistress of a girls’ independent school in the north of England. Now retired I have discovered a whole new world as I embark upon my second career of writing. I now have four books published under two pen-names.
What inspires you to write?
I have always loved reading. As a child I devoured books, first of all my own and then I moved to my father’s bookshelves discovering Agatha Christie, Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler and Dorothy L. Sayers. I have maintained that interest in crime and mystery fiction and it was natural that I should develop my own ‘Miss Marple’ in the guise of Laura Jessop.
Tell us about your writing process.
I formulate the idea for a book in my head over a period of several weeks, not consciously thinking about it but almost allowing it to develop subconsciously. I find ideas suddenly bubble up to the surface, and then I work them into my outline. After a few weeks I start to write and I find it just flows. The actual time for writing is really very short, a matter of a few weeks, but the whole process has, of course, taken longer. Now into my third in the Laura Jessop series my characters are taking on a life of their own, and I am having to keep file notes so that I don’t inadvertently change biographical details!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters are starting to become very real to me. I have inevitably used characteristics of people I know in building them, although each character is a combination of several. I wouldn’t say I talk to them, but I do listen to them in the sense that I want them to be credible, and to appeal to the reader. It is important to develop an empathy between my characters and the reader, particularly the main characters.
What advice would you give other writers?
I hesitate to give advice to those who are already writers, but to those who are thinking about it, I say ‘Get on with it!’ My first novel took me several years to complete, and many months before I took the plunge and published. I had enjoyed the writing but I wasn’t sure what I had written was good enough for public consumption. Persuaded eventually by my husband and many friends I decided to ‘get on with it!’
How did you decide how to publish your books?
The one thing I knew I couldn’t handle was an enormous number of rejections, first of all from agents and then from publishers. Then I read an article by John Locke detailing his experiences and ending up with his discovery of the new world of self-publishing e-books. The new and developing technology of e-readers has made the process so easy. Self-publishing used to be called ‘vanity publishing’ and there’s still an element of that, of course. I get a real thrill over seeing my books on the bookshelves next to James Patterson and Ian Rankin and what’s that if not vanity? But more and more celebrated authors are realising that this is the way to go.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I have no doubt that e-readers will be with us for a long time- until the next invention! I used to say I could never read a book on a computer screen, that I liked the feel of a real book. But actually an e-reader is like holding a book. And the big advantage is that you don’t need miles and miles of bookshelves to hold the ever-increasing number of books you buy. That said, I would hate to see ‘real’ books disappear, and I hope there’s room for both in the future.
What genres do you write?
Fiction, crime and mystery.
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print