Seeking Eden will launch on 6th July, published by Urbane Publications
I am not a fan of snakes. From thirteen to thirty, I had nightmares about being suffocated by serpents that emerged from my bedroom walls. When I was a child, we had a wildlife encyclopaedia with smiley dolphins on the cover, but inside was a close up of a black mamba. My sister left the book under my duvet, open at that page – I couldn’t sleep in my own bed that night. When I turned thirty, the dreams just stopped.
Seeking Eden really is fiction and I need people to know that. Locally the rumours have already started. The setting, Eden Hill, is based on the new town where I live, a so-called ‘concept village’ with a population of around 8,000. But there the similarity ends. I am not represented in my novel, and neither are my neighbours, friends or family. It would have felt like sloppy writing to regurgitate real life and just change the names and dates.
I am a rubbish gardener. When you get into your fifties, the appeal of shoes, handbags and frocks wanes a bit. Planting something that looks a lot like an onion and watching it grow into a beautiful, scented bloom is achingly rewarding. But my garden is cold and shady, so lots of plants have died on me.
‘Write what you know’ was a brilliant starting point for me. I’m in complete awe of authors who write about international espionage, grisly thrillers, crime or fantasy, but right now, I am compelled to write about my own planet. Perhaps I watched too many Mike Leigh films in the 90s, but I’m fascinated by real people and what we all get up to behind closed doors.
I’m not psychic, but when I was younger I visualised myself writing books - at the age I am now, wearing a swirly skirt and with a retriever dozing under my desk. No sign of the skirt (my skinny jeans would need to be surgically removed first) and the dog is a terrier, but somehow it happened.
I’m an unlikely rock chic, crazy about the Rolling Stones, and guitar bands generally. My partner Mark and I have tickets for the Stones later this year – it is a bucket list thing and has to be done. Music is a massive turn on for me and I like to go to gigs when I can. I was privileged to see Prince three times – awesome. I wept when he died last year.
I enjoy writing as a man. Several of my short stories are told from a male perspective and Seeking Eden is narrated from four points of view, two of which are middle aged men - although in terms of their personalities and storylines, they are poles apart.
I’ve never seen the point of sport. There, said it. Having no regard for football, rugby, tennis or any other kind of sporting endeavour is shameful. It’s not big and it’s not clever but it is how I feel. I do work out at the gym regularly, but that is driven by vanity and the fear of becoming ill.
I never wanted children. I always hoped that I’d eventually get the calling; that some hormonal and spiritual force would overwhelm me, but it didn’t happen. It might have done if I’d met Mark before, rather than after forty. It is a subject that still comes up, because even in this modern era, child-free women can be seen as living without context.
But dogs mean the world to me. I lost my sixteen year old Jack Russell Terrier last year. I called Rodney my Son and my Sun – my world grew very dark for a while. We recently rescued another terrier-cross from the same shelter where I found Rodney all those years ago. He’s so loving but also very troubled. We are working hard with a former police dog handler to rehabilitate him and it’s beginning to pay off.