I write out of sequence. Like in the TV and film industry who shoot out of sequence, I don't work in a linear fashion. I write my chapters almost completely out of sequence. If I have a scene in my head that I really want to get stuck into, I'll skip to writing that, even though it might be as far back as the last quarter of the book. This is another reason why I don't usually meticulously plan everything. I like to be inspired by my characters and give them a bit of free rein.
I didn't go to Uni or do a creative writing course. Some people are surprised that I'm a published author but have no formal qualifications. Whilst it's not a bad thing to have under your belt, it certainly isn't essential to making this a career. So much pressure is put on young adults about their future career choices, and there is a great emphasis on going to Uni. When I was seventeen/eighteen I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. By the time I realised I wanted to make a career out of writing, going on courses wasn't a viable option for me.
I wrote my first book when I was about six years old. It was a fantasy based around Jim Henson's early eighties classic The Dark Crystal. I did my own illustrations and set it out like a real book. It was rubbish, but I can still remember telling my teacher all about it because I was so excited. Sadly, I have no idea what happened to that 'book'. The love of creative writing was there from an early age, even if it did take me until my mid-twenties to realise this was the career I wanted.
I've done some thankless jobs. Like many people, I ended up getting stuck in a rut of doing a day job I hated, but it contributed to the monthly rent. I mainly worked various admin roles for little reward and I quickly became tired of playing office politics. When I was made redundant in 2008, at the time it felt like the worst thing to have happened, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It made me push myself to finish a novel. Before the office jobs, I worked in retail, which provided the chance to people-watch - great for any author!
I collect a lot of TV and film memorabilia. I am a bit of a geek. I have a vast collection of figurines relating to various TV shows (The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones for example) and films (The Crow, Alice in Wonderland and The Nightmare Before Christmas). I also love anything gothic, so I have plenty of model skulls adorning my writing desk. It all helps to inspire my writing in one way or another.
I've lived in Stevenage all my life. Stevenage is a large town in Hertfordshire, about thirty or so miles from central London. Like anywhere it has its negative points but there are worse places to live. Stevenage provides inspiration for my DCI Claire Winters series. Whilst the city in the series itself is fictional, it draws some comparisons with my home town. It's also full of hidden gems: Stevenage is urban, but not far from the town centre lies sprawling countryside and you feel like you could be out in the middle of nowhere.
York is my home-from-home. The medieval city is beautiful, steeped in history, whether it be from the Roman or Viking era to the place where Guy Fawkes was born; the place never fails to inspire. It's less than a two-hour direct train journey from Stevenage, so I can enjoy a day's shopping trip if I like. The history of the place is evident everywhere you look. I've always felt drawn to York and I hope to set a novel there one day, and I hope it will involve several trips for research purposes.
I listen to music when I'm writing the first draft. I have a writing playlist that really helps get me in the mindset to write. I have everything from film/TV soundtracks (Vikings, Penny Dreadful), one-off songs from a mix of genres, to unusual bands like Enigma. It's amazing how one song from a soundtrack, for instance, can help influence an emotional scene between your characters. Once I've finished the first draft and I move on to the second, I tend to need silence so I can focus more and read the manuscript with an editor's hat on.
People are surprised I don't yet have an agent. It gets a few raised eyebrows. I went to an author party in the summer and when mingling I was frequently asked who my agent and editor was. With two of my books now going into print after being on a digital first imprint, I feel quite proud of myself to have come this far. Whilst I am still seeking representation, my situation does prove that there are more ways to get your work out there into the hands of readers other than just the traditional route.
I want Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson to play DCI Claire Winters. Should my dream to see any of the books hit the small or big screen come true, Rebecca would be my first choice to play Claire. She's a versatile actress and physically looks the part in many ways. She has the ice-blue eyes my character is known for and she can play the steely heroine - just look at the BBC's The White Queen. There really should be more strong female-led dramas on our screens.
For All Ours Sins by TME Walsh is out now (£7.99, Carina). Available to buy from Amazon or your local Waterstones