Thursday, 28 February 2013

Fortress of Ephemera by Eric Chrstopherson

This is the fourth book by Eric Christopherson and whilst on the surface it seems worlds apart from the others, insanity soon rears up.

The story is set 100 years ago and for this, the language seems a bit strange at first.  A few times I needed to click to see the meaning of a word - the kindle certainly comes into it's own for this.

At the heart of this story is a claustrophobic chase within the confines of Noah Langley's old mansion.  Miles Trenowyth is his attorney and together with some other characters they are all trapped within the mansion and the decades of hoarding.

I was certainly on the edge of my seat with this one.  I read most of the book in one session.  If this was a film, it would certainly be low budget with one location, few characters and mostly in the dark.

Another amazing story from Eric Christpherson.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Indie Scene Magazine Issue 1

There's a new magazine in town and it's the best.  Well it has me and my bunnies in it, so must be fab.

Check it out.  There's 54 pages to read, so set aside some time and enjoy:

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Interrogating Alex Roddie

On the eve of his first book signing, I interrogate Alex Roddie when he's not up a mountain.

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 used to struggle with this, but now I tend to write more for myself, because I know that my passion will shine through and make a better story. I don't believe in changing my ideas too much to make them more commercial. Let's face it, fiction based on mountain history isn't the most mainstream of subjects--but it has found a small passionate following.

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

The history of mountaineering is my oxygen. To me, mountains are poetry, music, challenge, heartbreaking beauty, danger and romance all wrapped up into one perfect package. The history of mankind's exploration of the Alps is one of the most amazing tales ever told. Climbing is a wonderful metaphor for human experience and the human condition, and it's not just for climbers either--the stories and legends that keep me awake at night can be appreciated by all.

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? 

I record everything. Pictures I find online go into Pinterest (which I think is a great writer's tool) and everything else goes into Evernote or Pocket. When travelling, I keep extremely detailed notebooks filled with notes about everything I see and do.

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed

I examine them and measure their value. If I can use them, I invariably do, because I'm not very good at plotting in detail before writing the book--part of the fun is making things up as I go along! Any unused plot bunnies go into Evernote along with everything else...

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 a lot of myself has gone into my characters ... perhaps more than I realise! O.G. Jones is the man I would most like to be: courageous, stubborn, willing to go to tremendous lengths to overcome his own limitations. A new character I'm working with, Thomas Kingsley, reflects very modern fears: worries about job security and debt. A common theme shared by both of these characters is redemption through self-discovery.

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?

Sometimes! My girlfriend Hannah is very supportive, and luckily she's almost as enthusiastic about the 19th century as I am.

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

I tend to be a very focused reader, preferring books that fuel my writing. I read a lot of 19th century classics and mountaineering literature, but I also enjoy science fiction, travel and landscape writing, and humour.

What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?

Well, I'm considering hiding the first printed copy of my book in a geocache somewhere up a cliff in Glencoe as a publicity stunt! I also regularly venture into the mountains dressed as a Victorian climber, which has proven very popular amongst readers.

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?


What do you like most about visiting KUF/GR/forums?

Compared to the climbing forum I frequent, KUF is very relaxed and friendly. It's the most positive forum I've ever contributed to.

What is on your near horizon?

I'm working on an ambitious project called "Alpine Dawn." It's a novel about the birth of Alpine mountaineering seen through the eyes of three very different characters: Kingsley, a failed journalist who suffers from depression; Smith, a showman who turns his adventures into popular entertainment for the stage; and Forbes, the world's greatest living explorer who is now dying and yearns for one final mountain voyage. The book begins in Victorian London, features the French Revolutions of 1848, and take the readers on a journey through the largely unexplored hinterland of the Alps--a region that, only a few years before, many had believed was the home to dragons and goblins!

Where can we find you for more information?

My book, The Only Genuine Jones, is here:
My website and blog are located at
I am also an active Twitter user @alex_roddie
On Facebook I can be found at

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Chatting with Sujay

My next cosy chat is with Sujay from KUForum.

If you could live in the age and setting of a book, which book, and why?

I love historical books especially those set in late Victorian working class London, so I would probably like to experience life in that setting, though I am not sure I could manage without some of the luxuries of today. Saying that, I would also love to go back even further and experience the lives of Thomas Hardy’s characters and the simple country existence they used to endure at that time.

Does it annoy you the book finishes well before 100% because the author mentions their other works at the back of the novel. Do you mind if the author includes a synopsis or even an excerpt?

It all depends on the book really. If the book is part of a series, I don’t think it does any harm to include a small excerpt from the next book, just to set the scene, but when they use it to advertise all of their other books then I do get a bit annoyed.

Are you put off if you see a book is part of a series? Or does that entice you, knowing that if you like it there are more books to enjoy?

Not really, as long as there aren’t too many of them. When I discover a new author it probably would put me off if there were a dozen books that came before the current one. However if I find a new author who has just started publishing and their books are going to be part of a series, it wouldn’t bother me at all, especially if I enjoy the book.

Do you read the Look Inside before purchasing? Always? Sometimes, depending on the reviews? Never?

If the author is new to me I will often have a look and see if I like the style of the author, but if it is one I have already know and have enjoyed in the past I usually go ahead and buy the book without looking.

Do you read for hours at a time, or in short bursts, or a mixture of the two?

It all depends what I have to do. I like nothing better on a wet cold afternoon than snuggling down in the chair with a good book and spending a couple of hours reading. Other times I only have a few minutes to spare so don’t get a chance to get comfortable. I often read in bed at night, and have found a couple of hours have passed if it is an author I like or I have reached an exciting part of a book. Also if I am very close to the end of a book I will carry on reading because I hate coming back to a book with just a few pages left to read.

How important are reviews of a book to you? Would they influence your choice to buy it?

Again it all depends if it is an author I have read before. I do usually have a look at the reviews, but don’t always take much notice of them. I have read a book recently which has had almost 1,400 five star reviews so thought I would give it a go just because the reviews were good. How wrong could I be? After I reached about 30% I wanted to give up, but because of the reviews I carried on going thinking it would get better, but I was totally wrong. It was so repetitive and farfetched I felt totally let down in the end.

Do you think you remain unbiased when reviewing books by people you know or interact with on the internet?

I certainly hope I am unbiased. There are obviously some authors whose work I prefer to others, but I try and separate any friendships when I am writing a review.

How do you feel about leaving negative reviews?

If I really don’t like a book I usually don’t review it, because I accept that we all have different opinions and I wouldn’t want to put someone off of purchasing a book, just because I didn’t like it. I try and live by the saying that ‘if I can’t say anything nice, then I won’t say anything at all’.

Are you more lenient with regards mistakes if you know a book is self published, or do you believe the authors should have hired an editor to make sure it's the best it can be?

There is no real reason for there to be a mass of mistakes in a book that is self published. I don’t necessarily think that an author has to hire an editor to make sure books are the best they can be, but if the author has done their homework properly and had it proofread, usually mistakes can be picked up and corrected. I don’t deny the odd mistake or formatting error can always get through, you find then in printed books from the major publishers, but I have read a book recently that had no end of both spelling mistakes and errors in formatting. This has now been corrected and the book updated on Amazon, but in my opinion a lot of the errors were obvious simple errors that should have been put right before publication.

If something an author did upset or bothered you, would it stop you reading more of their work, even if you've read their stuff before and enjoyed it?

In an ideal world I would say I wouldn’t let the author’s actions influence any future purchases but in reality I think it probably would.

Do you prefer male or female protagonists?

I don’t have a preference for either, as long as the story is good and keeps moving at a good pace I don’t mind if the character is male or female.

Where do you like to see the acknowledgements, if at all; front or back.

I don’t mind where they are as all of my reading is done on the Kindle these days, and the Kindle tends to open at the beginning of the book rather than at any acknowledgements. I do usually read them when I have finished the book, as long as they don’t go on for pages on end.

Do you always buy books in the same genre? Would you experiment with a different type of book if it seemed worth a try?

Since I have had my Kindle I have definitely read different genres than I would not have chosen previously. I am prepared to give most things a try now, though science fiction and most fantasy still leaves me cold and I can’t settles into it.

Do you prefer long novels or shorter ones?

That one is easy; give me a long book I can get stuck into any day. I love to get lost in a tale and immerse myself totally in the world of the book if I can. I feel there is something missing if I just get into a story and it end’s after a couple of hours.

Do you finish every book you start reading, no matter how bad it is?

I would say I usually finish about 90% of the books I start, unless it is one that I really can’t get on with. The minimum I try and read is about 30% before I make up my mind about any book. There have been books which I thought I would never finish after only a few pages, but have stuck with and enjoyed in the end.

Do you read the reviews?

I do usually have a look at reviews, but I try not to let them influence me on my final choice. We are all different and like different aspects of a book, as long as there aren’t too many one stars I usually give a book a try.

Do you like it when writers put excerpts of reviews in the blurb? What about puffs from famous authors?

It doesn’t really bother me as long as the whole of the blurb isn’t made up of reviews. I do like to have some idea of what I am about to read. I don’t mind puffs from famous authors, but tend to totally ignore them. I have seen a few blurbs recently that contain nothing but reviews and puffs and I usually pass the book by, as I think if the author can’t be bothered to take the time to write a blurb for me to read, they aren’t that interested in me reading the book.

Song of Vanora by Sheila Perry

Song of Vanora is a gentle time travel tale, firstly set in modern day Scotland, then going back to the 14th century.

As mentioned, the word that comes to mind is gentle.  Even the scary bits where they encounter danger, the danger is never too frightening.  I've not been to the 14th century myself, but the author describes it quite well in my opinion.  

The book is not too long and was a nice read.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Spanner by P.A. Fenton

The Spanner is another of P.A. Fenton's office based stories.  But they are offices you don't really want to work in.  With this story, Stan Ramble works in IT in a bank doing a specific job, but over time has made sure he's the only person who can do it.  However, head office have sent two people to try to work out how the job is done.

As a summary, that sounds oh, so boring.  P.A. Fenton writes the boringness into the story, but, as usual, the job is not the whole story.  And when Stan starts on the magic mushrooms the story really gets going.

My favourite bit surrounds the "triangulation" part, where I was actually sniggering.out loud and I don't usually do that.

This is a shortish story and was a really good read, very well written.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Revisiting the Bunnies - The Quiz

My bunny question was introduced after my interrogations had got going, so I decided to revisit it and ask the authors the question they wished they had been asked.  Two authors named their book in the answer, so the number of authors listed is more than the bunnies quoted, so the authors that answered (and can perhaps remember their answers) can play along too.

So, match the author to the answer to this insightful question:

“How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed” 

Bunny No. 1
Ah, the bunny question...
Plot bunnies. They do pop up whenever they want, no matter what you're working on. They are most likely to appear just before you fall asleep and make their little bunny noises. Darn those varmints (to quote Yosemite Sam). How many sleeps have been interrupted.
Well, I have a way to electronically take care of them. Whenever I do get a plot bunny I don't call in the hunters. I just pick up my iPod and send an email to myself. Then I save them all in a file that I go over as I'm writing the book.
But you have to be careful when you open that file. Sometimes the bunny jumps right out!

Bunny No. 2
I guess I'm pretty sparse with my writing at the best of times, preferring to concentrate more on moving the plot forwards, so I guess I shoot dead anything that isn't helpful to the story. Cruel to be kind, to both the story and the reader. But if an idea does crop up that seems good, I might make a note of it for another story, burying my little bunny until such time as I can resurrect it.  

Bunny No. 3
I have a notebook filled with scribbles that my bunnies make me do. It's got one-liners, ideas for scenes, conversations, plots, etc, all stuffed into it. I hope the police don't find it if they raid my house...could be rather incriminating! 

Bunny No. 4
I tend to just make a note of plot bunnies to get them out of my mind and get on with the main thread of the story. Sometimes plot bunnies are really useful because they indicate a missed opportunity. Other times they need shooting... better the 12 bore than a book bore.

Bunny No. 5
I've tried ignoring plot bunnies - honest, I have - but they're just so cute with their wide eyes and their little snuffles. "Make your heroine a talking carrot, please!" they sing. Usually, I make a note to explore their idea at a later date and then get back to the task at hand. There's going to be a mutiny when they learn that my next book is not a gritty thriller about a vocal vegetable patch.

Bunny No. 6
Oh, those wicked plot bunnies, dancing about and distracting me from what I'm supposed to be working on!
I keep them safely in a hutch; i.e. I have a special file for them, and whenever one springs up I store it there. Some of them do turn up in later books, and sometimes I'll reach a point in the current project when I realise a similar breed of bunny might work well right there.
If I find I'm getting a lot of bunny invasion, I look hard at what I'm currently writing. The distraction might just be a sign of the dreaded [shudder] *boring* writing, in which case the current passage will be re-worked, trimmed down or outright deleted.

Bunny No. 7
One by one, I drop them into a single computer file, where they fall into a state of suspended animation, rarely to be heard from again. Every so often, usually between books, I open up the file and euthanize …

Bunny No. 8
Plot bunnies - yes. I think the word somehow gets out in bunnyworld when I'm in the thick of writing or editing, because those are the times when the plot bunnies come along. If they're very tiny baby bunnies I can usually ignore them - either they will go away or they'll eventually grow into bigger ones that can't be ignored. So I don't really do anything about those ones.
Sometimes they are massive, more like elephants, and then I usually lose a night's sleep thinking about them before either scribbling down some notes or just imprisoning them in a special cage in my mind to let them grow or change in some way before I let them out again. This is what I'm doing right now with a colossal plot bunny that scampered along during my final edits for my work in progress - absolutely nothing to do with the plot for that but an idea that was so huge it tried to blot out the sun.
Actually I'm allergic to real bunnies but I couldn't do without plot bunnies. I wouldn't have any new plots without them!

Bunny No. 9
Plot bunnies are dangerous creatures because they can drag you away from the task at hand – namely, the bazillionth edit of the novel you’re desperately trying to finish but oh-so-tired of reading over and over. To put the bunnies in their proper place, I let them run wild for a paragraph or two and outline the new idea as best I can. When  I return to them a few days later, nine out of ten times they don’t have the ‘bunny power’ to make a full novel and they’ve run out of steam.

Bunny No. 10
There's no such thing as plot bunnies, of course. Haha! Funny that some writers talk about them, but you know you can't trust writers, they'll say anything. Just an urban myth, that's all. So they're not a problem. [whispers] Right, I've said what you wanted me to say, now please, give me my novel back... what? Only the first chapter? That wasn't the deal! You furry little b... no, not the subplot, please! All right, you win! [cough] Nope, no problem at all.

Bunny No. 11
To be honest, I let the little buggers do whatever they like. It's their story, not mine! So may they hop and cute and procreate and continue to weird up my little offerings! Here's to bunnies!

The weird minds that came up with these answers, aka authors
Arthur Slade
Carl Ashmore
Cecilia Peartree
David Wailing
Eric Christopherson
Ken Magee
Linda Gruchy
Rosen Trevithick
Shaun Jeffrey
Shayne Parkinson
Sibel Hodge
Stu Ayris
Talli Roland

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Time Hunters and the Spear of Fate by Carl Ashmore

This is the third in the Time Hunters series of books.  Like the first two, this is the tale of another adventure that Becky and Joe have with their Uncle Percy and his time travelling community.

For this story, they travel to ancient Egypt and have to find the Spear of Fate, in order to hide it from the evil Emerson Drake.

Yet again, Carl Ashmore has written a really enjoyable, fun story.  With the writing, he treats children as intelligent people, rather than writing down to them.  There are scary villains, loveable allies and Becky and Joe's characters develop even stronger.

There is a bit of a history lesson in here and I'd imagine that it will make children want to find out a bit more about some of the myths mentioned.  I'm sure if I was xx#cough#xx years younger, I'd want to find out more.

Again, another fantastic chapter from Bowen Hall.

Interrogating R.M.F. Brown

Interrogating R.M.F. Brown

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 never worry about balance. If I have a story idea in mind, I just write it. Publish and be damned. If you start thinking about the general public, you’ve had it. As somebody once said: “the general public thought it was a good idea to vote for the Nazis and buy Coldplay albums. What do they know!”

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?

I carry a notebook around with me to scribble any good ideas down. I’m also lucky to be blessed with a good memory, so I can carry plot ideas around with me. Good ideas and dialogue can be a distraction sometimes, a poison to the mind, so they need to be filtered out from time to time.

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed

I’m speaking metaphorically of course, but plot bunnies, like their real life counterparts, need to be shot! Sometimes, it’s not easy to ignore them, but I find deep breathing helps!

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 consciously try my best to avoid adding bits of my personality/character to my characters. It’s not easy, but the law of polar opposites can help. For example, if you are brave, smart, charismatic etc. you can make a character who is the complete opposite. This is an excellent device for devising characters that has served me well over the years.

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?

Where I live, it’s hard to become wrapped up in your writing. There is always somebody with a power drill, or a lawnmower working away underneath my window, or call centres ringing me up day and night. If I can get a few hours of writing under my belt every day, then it’s been a good day.

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

I write in a variety of genres, and I read a variety of genres. Biography is what I usually go for, (Roger Moore, Sean Connery) but modern fantasy is another genre I dabble in.

What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?

I try to avoid clich√©, and make an effort to add unusual plots and situations to spice things up. It’s hard to be original, but I’m always looking for fresh ideas.

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?
I feel like taking a long walk from a short pier!

What do you like most about visiting KUF/GR/forums?

I like the banter and the book recommendations, and to have a place where being a book lover is not the mark of shame that it normally is in society!

What is on your near horizon?

More writing competitions, a novel set in World War Two, and a fence that needs painting.

Where can we find you for more information?

You can find me on twitter ( and on Goodreads and Amazon under the name R.M.F.Brown. 

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Slow Burning Lies by Ray Kingfisher

Slow burning lies opens with a man entering a coffee shop at closing time and wanting to tell the waitress Patrick's story about his very bad dreams.

This is a very intriguing book.  Are Patrick's dreams real?  Are the dreams in the dreams real? Is Patrick going mad?  Or are there other things afoot?  There are so many questions as you go along, you are wondering what is real and what is not.

I really enjoyed this book.  It was very well written and the tension was ramped up, with surprises thrown in now and again to make you re-evaluate what you already thought.

Having read a few of Ray Kingfisher's books now, he's definitely an author that I'll keep an eye out for.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

No More Tears by Andrew Barrett

No More Tears is the finale in Andrew Barrett's "Dead Trilogy" following on from A Long Time Dead and Stealing Elgar.  You do need to have read the previous books as they folow on from each other.  As a whole they add up to over a thousand pages which is a chunky story indeed.

Taken individually, I think I like this one best.  This one is more about revenge and retribution.  It's hard to write about this one without giving anything away about the previous 2, but suffice to say, Roger is in another pickle and has to cope with what's thrown at him.

I mentioned in reviews for the previous books about my not really liking Roger as a person, but I think I've grown to like him more.  This story is about friendships and I liked that.

Now I have to start on his Third Rule series, yay :)

Evilution by Shaun Jeffrey

This is Shaun Jeffrey's first novel, but is not the first story I've read by him.  I find his stories always a bit creepy and this certainly fits into that category.

A woman wins a prize in a competition she doesn't remember entering.  The house is in an isolated village, made even more isolated by the strange fog surrounding it.  That's been there for a few years.  Yes, that does sound like a ludicrous plot, but hey, not all plots have to be sensible.  This is a spooky horror(ish) book, so you have to suspend belief.

I needed to be in the right mood to get into this.  I started it once, then put it aside, but once I got into it, I rather enjoyed it.

Mask of the Macabre by David Haynes

Mask of the Macabre is a quartet of short (varying lengths) stories set at the same time in Victorian London with each one following on from the previous.  In fact it is more like one story, but split into 4 parts.

The author certainly sets the scene.  You can really imagine you are in the dirty times of back then.  This is a nice easy read and is very enjoyable.  I wondered where the stories were going and found them satisfying

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Interrogating Linda Gillard

For my 60th Interrogation I chat with Linda Gillard, the author who stuck 2 fingers up to traditional publishing and succeeded better than ever

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

I write mixed-genre books and I cover a lot of different genres, several in each book. (When I was traditionally published I was a marketing nightmare.) Genres I’ve covered are
Literary fiction, Romance, Romantic comedy, Psychological drama, Cosy mystery, Paranormal, Family saga, Romantic suspense

So for example UNTYING THE KNOT has elements of rom-com, psychological drama, paranormal, family saga and literary fiction.

Clearly no one particular genre excites me enough to stick to it! I do like mixing things up and I found the marketing constraints of traditional publishing a creative straitjacket. Readers don’t seem to mind genre-busters, but publishers hate them because they don’t know how to market them. I’m much happier as an indie, writing the books I want to write in the way I want to write them.

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?

When they read the finished manuscript, my ex-publisher told me HOUSE OF SILENCE needed a complete re-write. They said they wouldn’t be able to market it unless I changed the ending and effectively changed the genre. I declined to do that because I believed in the book as it stood, so I paid back my advance. Eventually I indie-published HOUSE OF SILENCE on Kindle and it became a bestseller.

I mainly write to entertain myself. I wrote my first novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY with no intention of even looking for a publisher. It was just something I did when I couldn’t find the sort of book I wanted to read, so I decided I would write it. That was 1999 and I’ve been doing that ever since. Over the years I’ve been traditionally published and now I’m indie and publish myself, much more successfully than the professionals did. But I always say what I want to say, in the way that I want to say it.

But there’s just one thing where I do consider the reader. Over the years I’ve had flak from readers about “bad language” in my first novel. The worst thing is only the F-word used as a verb and an adjective, but you wouldn’t believe how upset people get. Someone went to the trouble of giving EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY a  bad review on Amazon, saying she’d given up reading after one chapter because of the F-word.

Now I’m not that bothered about reader sensitivity when it comes to language you hear on TV, in the cinema or in the school playground, but I think if a few readers are going to get that distracted by swearing and if they’re going to make it a big issue, then I’m not going to use it unless I have to (and sometimes in the interests of realism you do have to.)

I now think very hard before using words that might upset the sensitive and those who must live very sheltered lives. It annoys me to have to do that, but these days reader-reviewers have so much power. I don’t think it’s fair to give a book a 1-star review after reading one chapter, but since Amazon doesn’t have a DNF button, that’s what you get. There’s still some “bad language” in my books, but in every instance now the use is carefully considered and, in my view, essential.

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed

They don’t actually bother me. I say yes to pretty much anything that comes into my head, but I can do that because I don’t plan my books much in advance. I sometimes don’t even know how the book ends or which man the heroine will end up with. This used to worry me, especially when I read about other authors and their chapter-by-chapter detailed planning. I don’t do that. I think if I knew exactly what was going to happen and how it was going to happen, I don’t think I’d want to write the book. I’d have no curiosity. And that’s what makes me write. For me writing is a process of discovery – finding out about the characters, what they did and why. So if I get some wacky idea, I don’t reject it, I explore it and often incorporate it. I love to complicate things.

I used to worry about painting myself into a corner plot-wise, creating situations I wouldn’t be able to resolve, but over the years I’ve learned to trust the process. I discovered that if you let it, the unconscious mind will write a much better book than the conscious mind.

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 fall in love with all my heroes! I became obsessed with one and it took me years to get him out of my system. I change my mind about who my favourites are but at the moment I’m very fond of the ghost hero in THE GLASS GUARDIAN and Magnus, the cracked-up soldier hero of UNTYING THE KNOT.

I would like to be like some of my heroines and I‘m not (apart from perhaps grouchy insecure & blind Marianne in STAR GAZING!) I think in terms of character I’m more like some of my conflicted and tormented heroes. A lot of me went in to Calum, the hero of EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY. He was a teacher who’d cracked and I was a teacher who’d cracked. Keir, the hero of STAR GAZING is someone who sees images in terms of music and vice versa. That was easy for me to write because I’m like that. It was also easy for me to write about how much he loved his island home of Skye because I’d lived there for 6 years and knew I was going to have to leave.

It never feels as if my characters are autobiographical when I’m writing the book. They seem very separate and I just feel like the channel, the mouthpiece they speak through. But when I look back, I can see that the characters’ concerns are my concerns and some of their traits are mine.

So I think my main characters are deeply personal, but when I’m writing, they are themselves. In fact they’re my imaginary friends. They appear to have minds of their own (like children, they won’t always do as they’re told!) but I realise they must be the product of my imagination, so their concerns will be largely my concerns.

In one of E M Forster’s novels a character says, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” That’s how it is for me. Sometimes I don’t really know why I’m writing a book or why I’m creating a particular character (why on earth did I want to write about bomb disposal?!), but when I “see what I say”, I find out what I think. So I’m not just discovering things about my characters and story, I’m finding out things about myself.

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?

Oh dear me, yes. My husband and our kids learned to recognise the distracted look, the vague responses, the faraway look in my eye… It all meant I was only physically present. Mentally I was in a parallel universe!

I think there comes a point when I’m writing a novel where I find it difficult to emerge fully from the world of the book. I find I’m doing real life on automatic pilot because really I’m not there. I might not even be me. I might feel I’ve been taken over by one of my characters. I’m thinking like them, maybe even moving like them.

Then towards the end of writing, I find I have to enter into the world of the book completely and stay in it until a draft is finished. Imagine taking a very deep breath, then diving under water.. It feels a bit like that. Certainly when I’ve finished a book, I feel completely drained and emotional and then it feels like I’m finally coming up for air.

What do you like most about visiting KUF/GR/forums?

I love to find out how readers choose books, what they’re looking for, what makes them re-read, what makes them stop reading. I’ve always enjoyed engaging with readers because so often they show you something about your book that you didn’t know was there. I think of readers as co-creators. A book isn’t really finished until it’s been read. Readers bring so much of themselves to a book and so of course do authors. A book exists in the space between the author’s text and the reader’s imagination and that means it’s a different book for every single reader. I think that’s so exciting!

What is on your near horizon?

Recovering from breast cancer. Most of 2012 was about my cancer treatment and I didn’t get any fiction written. So 2013 is going to be a year in which I finish a new novel (I hope) and get back to full health. I’ll also be bringing out one or two more of my ebooks as paperbacks.

Where can we find you for more information?

I have a website – and you can follow my author page on Facebook -

Thanks very much for interrogating me. Your questions were really interesting to answer.