As we gear up for this amazing event, I’ll be bringing you author interviews so you can get to know the attending authors in more detail! There are lots and lots of authors for you to discover, not to mention, hundreds if not thousands of books! Why not grab a cuppa and sit back and relax! All while hearing more about our writers and their writing lives, inspirations – and maybe even a secret or two!
What is the first thing people should know about you?
What you see is what you get. I’m a pretty laid back, no-drama kinda gal. There’s no mask I hide behind. I usually say it as I see it but try to do so in a way that doesn’t cause trouble or hurt people’s feelings. I don’t suffer fools lightly, and I can’t stand liars. I can usually sniff them out! I’m a really good judge of character and can generally suss out if someone is my kinda person within half an hour of meeting them. That’s more than one thing isn’t it… Sorry. Lol.
Tell me which genre or trope you are most well-known for writing.
Contemporary romance is my genre, although there are others that I would like to dabble in. I do have a very secret project in the pipeline that couldn’t be further from romance. I don’t really buy into the “trope” idea I don’t think. I don’t really plan like that. If it turns into an enemies-to-lovers story it’s just because that’s how the characters decide it’s going to play out. I’m very driven by my characters’ voices.
What is one thing people don’t know about you?
Hmmm… I don’t know that there’s much. I’m quite an open book. I don’t really hide anything about myself. I guess I’m fairly private with my feelings, especially online, as I am a pretty stoic and “carry on regardless” kind of person. I don’t allow much to get me down, which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes a bad thing!
Perhaps people don’t know that I never, ever hold a grudge. Life is too short for all of that. I’ll be pissed off at you, but once it’s done it’s done. Oh… Not many people know I have a VERY short fuse. Lol. I can keep it in check in public, but behind closed doors is a different matter! And I don’t cry when reading. Only three books have ever made me shed a tear! But I have never ugly snotted over the written word.
Name a book you’ve written that you wish more people had read, and why.
Probably Too Good Girl. It’s definitely the book I am most proud of in regards to my actual writing—as in it’s definitely my writing at its best, even if the story isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s my marmite book, I reckon, but I wish more people would read it because I’d like them to see how it’s written.
What is your favourite book (not your own), and why?
Gosh… One of my favourites is The Storyteller by Jodie Picoult. The plot was so unexpected, and I love how, as in a lot of her books, she writes about moral dilemmas that her characters must navigate. This one particularly stayed with me because it is one of the only books that has ever made me cry! I’m not a cold-hearted bitch, I promise! I just don’t seem to cry at books.
I also love Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. It was one of the first classics I ever read, and I think I read it twice, back-to-back.
Was there a book you wrote that broke you and made you feel like you’d never write again?
Firefly, which is my most recent release. I struggled massively with finishing it. Working out the plot nearly finished me off! I changed my mind and ran it by friends so many times! And even once I knew where I wanted to go, the words would not come. I was on a deadline, which I do NOT do well with, and I honestly almost threw it all away on a number of occasions. So in that sense, yes it nearly broke me!
Are you one of those authors for whom music is EVERYTHING and without it you’d never write?
Yes. I have playlists for every story. I listen to music constantly. I am inspired emotionally by songs, and very often, whole scenes between my characters will play out in my mind whilst I’m listening to a song. That song will then go on repeat until I have finished writing the scene. All of my books, except Firefly, have songs attached to the chapters. So if you’re a reader who likes to get the whole experience, you can listen along!
Is your desk/writing space tidy or messy?
Sometimes it’s really tidy; sometimes it’s a real mess. I am a funny one. I can’t bear mess. It drives me crackers. However, if things become too messy, I feel overwhelmed by it and can’t face doing anything about it. That is until it gets to the point where I literally cannot cope with it being messy anymore! I’m not sure if there is a name for people like me! Haha!
Who or what inspires you as a writer?
Things I observe.
Stories I’ve read.
All sorts really…
Are you an introvert or extrovert? Or something else…?
Apparently I’m an introverted extrovert (or an extroverted introvert, whichever way around it is!). I’m often confused for an extrovert because I’m really sociable. I’m often the life and soul in fact… I ‘play’ the extrovert really well. But I find myself having to explain my introversion. Unfortunately, most people don’t get it. Lol.
It depends who I’m with and where I am. Environment is a huge factor. The ambiance, the music, how loud or quiet it is and who is there. Other people are equal parts intriguing and exhausting to me. That includes my family and friends. I’ve just read this back and it sounds like I was lying about the whole mask thing. I’m not. I don’t hide behind my extroversion like it sounds!
The literary world moves fast, but what’s the one thing that never changes?
People will always want to hear stories, no matter how they are presented. Stories make the world go round. Stories are how we know about the past and how we get to imagine the future. Whether it be Mavis over the road telling the milkman how her dog escaped under the hedge that morning, laughing about how she had to run after him in her pyjamas; Grandad Jim regaling his grandsons with tales of his time captaining a merchant navy ship in WW2; or a lonely teenager scribbling poetry that tells of her troubled mind, stories connect us to one another and always will.
What is your advice to authors just starting out?
Just write. Write a story or a poem. Embellish a shopping list. Describe a scene you have witnessed or a picture you have seen. Write a letter to an imaginary friend. Just don’t stop writing. Write, write, write.
Don’t write for your dad, or your friend, or potential readers. Write for you. Write the stories you want to tell. Then, once people find your work and love it, write for yourself and those super fans. Don’t write for reluctant readers or to gain hard won 5-star reviews. You’ll never, ever please everyone so write to please those who love what you do—those who are the first to download your new book without even reading the blurb. You’ll be a unicorn author to someone. Write for them.
Listen to advice from other authors whilst remembering that you do not have to take the advice if it doesn’t work for you. Save money to get your work edited by someone who knows what they’re doing and so you can purchase a good quality cover for your book. Do not skimp on these two things.
Where is your favourite place to go on holiday?
The Yorkshire Dales. It’s my happy place. Don’t get me wrong, I love a golden beach, sunshine and a deep blue sea, but give me rolling hills and the sound of cows any day!
Your favourite place to read and/or write?
I can read anywhere really. At the table, on the sofa, in bed. I’m not so good at reading in the car cos I get distracted by the scenery and sometimes a little car sick.
Writing… Usually not at my computer. Because I design book covers, the internet and images and things can pull me away from writing. If I sit elsewhere with my iPad instead, I’m less likely to start looking for pictures to add to pre-made covers because I don’t have Photoshop on my iPad.
When you’re as old as Gandalf the Grey, how many books do you think you might have written?
Not as many as you might think! I’m a very slow writer. And by that I mean it takes me forever to finish a book, not that I type slowly! If I know what’s going to happen, I can knock out the words quickly. But I am very busy with lots of other aspects of my life that I don’t always have time to sit and write for long periods of time. I generally release one book a year. That’s about my average I think, and I’m happy with that. How old is Gandalf? 24,000 years old apparently. So I guess I’ll have written 23,956 books!
Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met?
Richard Attenborough. I used to work at a Showcase cinema. It was the busiest cinema in the UK at the time. When the film Chaplin was released, our cinema premiered it in the UK. Richard Attenborough directed the film so of course he was there. I was a supervisor and was in charge of the running of the concessions stand. We were having lots of work done on the building at the time and had scaffolding everywhere. There were plywood ramps leading up to the main entrance where the steps used to be and tarpaulin all over the place. I had painted a HUGE mural of Charlie Chaplin on the massive glass windows at the front, too.
Our general manager asked some of the staff to dress up as Chaplin and line the sides of the ramp where Richard and the other guests would enter. He asked me to be one of them and, since I was the supervisor, he also asked me to walk Richard down the spillway to his screen and then greet him after the film had finished. So as Richard arrived, he walked up the ramp and spotted me—the only female Chaplin—and leaned in to kiss my cheek. He whispered, “It’s not often I get to kiss a man!”
We shared a laugh and then I walked with him down to the screen. When the film was done, I greeted him. He linked arms with me, and my general manager walked at the other side of me. Halfway down the spillway, he turned to me and said, “How would you like to come back to Manchester with me?”
I glanced at my manager who said, “Sorry, she’s working.”
And that was that! See! A story that now connects you with me a little bit.
What did you always want to be when you were growing up?
A teacher. Or a ballerina. Or an author. I’m now an author and a teacher!
Who is your biggest cheerleader?
I have a very close-knit group of author friends who champion me at every turn, tell me to shut up when I’m having doubts about my abilities and give it to me straight when my writing isn’t good enough. And I think that’s what cheerleaders should be like.
My partner doesn’t like romance so he doesn’t read what I write, and I wouldn’t ever expect him to, but he does give me time and space to do it, so he cheers silently!
BONUS Q. Tell me a secret about one of your books that nobody else knows yet!
One of my works in progress has a 15-year-old girl in it called Marcheline….
Thank you so much for your time, Eleanor! To find out more, click the image: