I am not Andy McNab.
I have written four novels that are marketed as 'thrillers' which makes me uneasy. They are psychological thrillers, not 'blood and guts' thrillers so I always imagine Andy McNab fans ordering them, then gnashing their teeth…
I am interested in psychology.
On the other hand, if you like psychology, relationships, and human drama with the odd dead body thrown in, then I am your woman. I am fascinated by human behaviour and the dynamics of relationships. I love the joke about two psychologists passing in a corridor. One says hello and the other replies uneasily. Once past his colleague, the second one says, "God, I wonder what all THAT was about?" That makes me laugh! I understand that level of analysis. Or over analysis…
I am a journalist as well as a novelist.
My understanding of humanity comes from my day job. I am basically a feature writer and celebrity interviewer but diverted into news when I wrote a front page Observer story about the inappropriate sexual advances of a Catholic Cardinal. After that, I was contacted by abuse victims from all over the world and wrote extensively about the subject. It was hard, harrowing - and life changing.
My dad left me a wonderful gift when he died.
It wasn't wrapped in fancy paper and it took me a while to find it.
After his death, I felt like one of the supporting pillars in my life had disintegrated. Bereavement often sparks creativity. Some turn to art, some to music. I turned to words. I think of my first novel as dad's parting gift.
I believe in the truth of fiction.
When I teach creative writing, I quickly introduce "the kernel of truth". People think writing is about imagination but it is also about experience. I think of it as an intersection between the two. Every imaginative strand needs to be weighted by a truth that gives it authenticity.
You can find me in my books - but only if you know what you are looking for.
Fiction isn't autobiographical but it does often contain your world view. If you know the author, you might recognise what is inspired by real life. My latest novel, The Chrysalis, is about transgenderism because I wrote about it as a journalist. But it also contains a character who has dementia and my observations of my mother influenced that depiction.
I take things to heart. I used to think that was a matter for regret because you can get easily hurt. Then I realised it was why I write and that was a consolation.
I love empowering people.
Most people can do more than they think and I love helping them see that - just as other people have helped me see my potential. Sometimes, that happens in a classroom because I teach writing and media skills. Sometimes, it comes from a newspaper story in which I can finally give someone a voice. Either way, I get a kick.
I believe in heaven more than hell.
I would love to think this is a planned universe and the God issue has always troubled me. I'd like to believe there is a heaven and that we will all see it. I am not keen on excluding anyone to hell.
I think chocolate is the most comforting food in the world.
The rich, dark, 70% stuff. Is there anything else to say?