Can you tell our readers what to expect from your new e book?
'Writing for Love' is a short 'how-to' book that tells the story of my writing career and goes on to explain, in extreme detail (!), how I actually write a novel. I've written twenty-five novels now and shorter and shorter publishing deadlines have meant that I've had to develop a fool-proof method because I can't afford to spend half a year fannying around with a story that doesn't work. Writing for Love covers everything from how I find inspiration to how I work out how many chapters the book should contain and where I should put my plot twists. There's a lot of maths involved and I've included some easy exercises and a couple of tables to help you plot your own story out.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I started taking the possibility of writing as a career seriously when I published my first short story in Just Seventeen at the age of fourteen. To actually be paid to write that story was a huge break-through. It gave me the confidence to go on to write my first book and face the inevitable rejections that came my way. Prior to publishing with J17, I wanted to be a fashion designer. Part of me would still rather be a fashion designer than a novelist, if I'm entirely honest. I love to draw and spend hours pouring over fashion magazines.
Whats the best advice you can give aspiring writers?
Finish your book. Most people can come up with an idea and write three chapters. Actually completing your novel puts you way ahead of the pack in terms of having something to submit to editors and agents. What works best for me is to gallop through a first draft and edit only when I have the whole story down. Too many aspiring writers get bogged down in perfecting their opening paragraphs. Trust me, after writing twenty-five books, I understand that you will never truly feel your work is 'finished'. You could edit indefinitely but if you want your book to be published, at some point you have to let it go.
What is your writing process?
I'm not going to tell you that here. You'll have to read 'Writing for Love' to find out!
You have written features for Marie Clare and the Mail on Sunday, do you have a preference for this or novel writing?
Given that I've written twenty-five novels and about half as many features, I think I can safely say it's novel writing that appeals to me most. The comment feeds that accompany on-line articles these days simply terrify me. I used to think Amazon reviewers were cruel but the kind of commentary that the articles on the Daily Mail's website attract, for example, makes me almost afraid to open the door. There are some seriously angry people out there.
Why do you choose to write under different pseudonyms?
I write under different pseudonyms so I can write different types of novel. My Olivia Darling books are very different from the Chris Manby stuff. They're much sexier, the settings are more glamorous and the plots are more complicated. The Chris Manby books are a lighter, funnier read. I didn't want fans of my Chris books to be shocked or disappointed by finding sex and murder between the pink covers.
Why did you want to pass on your knowledge to budding writers?
I've been lucky enough to have some fabulous mentors throughout my career. I wanted to pass on some of the knowledge they shared with me. I also found that I was being asked the same three questions over and over and over by the aspiring writers I met at readings or on-line. Writing for Love is my thoroughly thought-out answer to those questions.
What future plans do you have for your writing?
I'm hoping that I'll be doing some more screenwriting. Earlier in my career, I wrote a script that became a film called 'Geraldine's Fortune'. I was replaced by another writer for the final draft but I got a 'creative producer' credit and it was really quite something to see my name appear on screen and hear actors saying my words. Now that I'm older and slightly thicker-skinned, I'm ready to go back into the Hollywood fray. Other than that, I hope to continue writing novels. I've got plenty of ideas. It's just a matter of pinning the right one down.
How difficult was it to write down your writing process to translate to others?
It was surprisingly difficult. Turns out it's far easier to actually write a novel than to write a book about writing a novel. It was useful to get it all down on paper though and the feedback I've had from other writers who have tried my ideas out has been very encouraging indeed.
What I Did on My Holidays is also due out on the 24th June.