I’ve spent my life travelling around the world, working as a British diplomat. In my novels, I only write about the countries I’ve lived in. I hope my experience gives credence to my plots, characters, and scene-setting.
I love to learn foreign languages. I learnt to speak French, German and Spanish at school and sixth-form college. I learnt Indonesian when I worked in Jakarta, and Mandarin when I worked in the British Embassy in Peking in the early 80s. Then in 1984, I went to Shanghai to open a new Consulate-General. I draw on my experience in Shanghai at that time as the backdrop for my third thriller, Missing in Shanghai.
My favourite food is Chinese. I learnt to cook Chinese during my years in China. Now, I cook it at least once a week for dinner at home. Believe it or not, there are no Chinese takeaways near us.
I love living in our old 18th century house. Our old stone house is solid and peaceful. I often wonder about all the people who have lived here over the centuries, yet there are no ghosts, at least none that I’ve seen. Although sometimes, at dawn, I think I can hear a war time radio broadcast around the house. It’s probably just my imagination, or another plot for a book percolating in my head.
I enjoy meeting people. That’s why I give lots of talks around the country. I tell people what it was like to be a female diplomat in my era, explain the history and politics of the countries I lived in, and give them a window into diplomacy, which is often considered a ‘secretive’ profession.
I like walking and rambling in the countryside. It feeds the soul and helps me think. I do a lot of plotting, and thinking up characters, for my novels during my walks.
Going to the theatre is a hobby. I’ve always enjoyed the theatre. I’ve even written and produced a couple of plays. I’m about to start writing one of those plays into a novel. I know plays are usually produced from books, but this play won’t go from my head. So, I’ve started writing it up as a novel – a haunting thriller.
I’m rubbish at maths and physics. I always have been, since my early schooldays.
I like to read crime thrillers. Since my teenage years, when Agatha Christie was my favourite author, I’ve always enjoyed the murder/mystery genre. Throughout my years flying around the globe, I always had a thriller of some sort on the go. It’s no wonder that I now write them myself.
I would like to be able to play golf. And I have tried. The trouble is, I can just about get around the course, but I’ve never been good enough to get a handicap. Think I’ll just give it up.