How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?
I think more than anything I actually write for myself. I don’t think you can write for other people, in the sense that the only story you can really tell is your own, in many and varied ways. That said, when the initial draft is there, I’m more than happy to respond to editorial advice from my publishers as they’re the ones who know the market far more deeply than I do. Every writer desperately needs a good editor to help make the book the best and most accessible it can be. You can’t fully edit your own work.
What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.
What excites and attracts me are the characters first and foremost, and then the story. Though these two are very closely linked – every character creates their own story by the decisions they make and the paths they follow. Because of that, I’ve ended up writing in a wide variety of genres, both for the paperback and ebook markets. I’ve written romantic comedy, crime, psychological thrillers, a fantasy series, plus literary fiction, biblical fiction and gay & lesbian erotic short stories, the latter being my bestselling genre. All these genres appeal to me because of the characters in them.
Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?
If I get an idea I create a file on the computer and put notes, story beginnings and character lists in there. However, it’s very rare I come back and look at these, so I don’t spend too much time on doing it. When one story is finished, I’ll take whatever appeals to me next, whether it’s new or something I’ve thought of previously, and go with that. I’m a bit of a fly-by-night writer in that respect!
How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?
I think all my characters are essentially me. I can’t write anything else, and I don’t think any other writers can, when it comes down to it either. Each of us has a myriad of personalities and possibilities inside us, and the trick is to key into the one with the strongest voice at the time and run with it. The character who’s most affected me while I’ve been writing, and beyond, is Michael, my hooker/talented artist from psychological thriller, A Dangerous Man. He has a very powerful voice and he lived in my head for quite a while, which was both scary and liberating, sometimes at the same time. Of course that voice is also mine, and a very effective way of expressing the things I can’t – or am not allowed to - express as a late-forties middle-class woman living in Surrey. Strangely, I still hear his voice today when I need it.
In terms of which character I’d most like to be, I think that’s Annyeke Hallsfoot, the acting First Elder of Gathandria from my fantasy novel The Gifting. She’s got a whole lot of attitude coupled with a very warm heart, and I think that combination is just amazing. Wish I had half her charm and strength!
Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?
On occasion, yes. When I was writing Michael (see above), I became more like him than I have done with any of my characters. For the eighteen months I took to write that novel, my husband on occasion found it very tricky – though, being the patient generous man he is, he didn’t say this until after I’d finished the book – as he’d ask me something and I’d reply as if I were a gay male prostitute obsessed with drawing. It certainly gave a whole new slant on the “for better or for worse” promise in the marriage service!
What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?
I love reading. Reading is far more important than writing, and it’s the foundation and essential joy no writer can be without. I read anything and everything I can get my hands on, including cereal packets if I have to. I love reading crime, thrillers, literary novels, women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, biography, short stories, Christian books, poetry, and gay erotic fiction. I always have at least five books on the go – one fiction, one biography, one Christian book, one poetry book and an ebook, which is usually in the gay/gay erotic genre. The only subject I don’t really like is horror.
What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?
I try to make the book the best it can be. This involves working closely with my editors in terms of my short stories as I have a close business relationship with them, and in terms of my novels the in-depth involvement of an independent editor whom I trust implicitly. This is because, for the novels, I want them to be as close to what they should be before I submit them anywhere. Quality counts.
When it comes to marketing, I find it very hard, but I have a Facebook and Twitter account, and I also try to seek reviews for any books which come out as best I’m able to. Many of my publishers also have a very strong relationship with reviewers, and this has helped build up my readership very steadily over the past three or four years, and I’m very pleased with that. I’ve also recently taken part in my first blog tour which was quite successful, and I’m always happy to write articles (hence this one) if asked to so people can get to know me as a person as well as a writer. I hope they’ll see I’m not as scary or strange as many assume I am because of the hard-hitting stories I tend to produce, but it’s hard to tell really!
How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?
I feel very stupid indeed. There’s always something that – as Wodehouse has it – makes you leap like a gaffed salmon with embarrassment on your pillow at night. But I’ve learnt to live with it by realizing that no book is ever perfect and some error will always slip through. But both my editors and I do our best to catch them …
What do you like most about visiting KUF?
It’s a very friendly place, and it’s great to link up with other writers and readers without feeling the need to compete. Plus I love my Kindle and it’s nice to be somewhere where I don’t have to keep explaining why they’re so wonderful all the time! – which is something I do on a regular basis off-line J
What is on your near horizon?
In terms of writing, I’m editing the third in my Gathandrian trilogy, The Executioner’s Cane, at the moment, and preparing for the publication of Book Number Two, Hallsfoot’s Battle, later this summer. All three books are published by Bluewood Publishing and are or will be available in Kindle and paperback.
At the same time, I’m preparing for the publication of my gay romantic e-story, Angels and Airheads, from Musa Publishing at the end of March, and my gay erotic e-story, Where You Hurt The Most, from Riptide Publishing in May. Beyond that, the next in my gay erotic ménage e-series, called The Delaneys at Home, will be published by Amber Allure Press on 3 June, and my literary horror e-story, The Gift of The Snow, has just been accepted for publication by Untreed Reads Press, so it’s going to be a very busy summer! All these will be available on Kindle.
I’m also working on a stand-alone gay fantasy novella, The Taming of The Hawk, but that’s very slow-going at the moment. I’m definitely enjoying the ride, however. J
Where can we find you for more information?
I have a website, a regularly updated blog, a Facebook page, a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account. Specific genres which people might find interesting can be accessed at The Gathandria fantasy site, Biblical Fiction UK and Gay Reads UK. Visitors are always welcome and I make exceptionally good cake!