I never wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be an actress. At university I was cast as Alice in a student pantomime taking off Alice in Wonderland. I sung Spice Girls numbers, pretended to take hallucinogenic drugs, acted alongside weird talking cats and an exceptional drag Red Queen. I was hooked.
I wanted to write one. I had no idea how to write a short story let alone a 90 minute play. But I had a summer holiday and a determination to learn.
I wrote ‘The Wizard of Odd: Search for the Ruby Strippers’ over 8 weeks and it was the hardest, most rewarding experience. I learnt about character and structure and dialogue. Watching the actors perform it was one of the proudest moments of my life.
So when it came to writing my first novel I knew one very important thing that kept me going - I knew I could undertake a big project and finish it. That it would feel goooood when it was finished. This gave me the motivation to keep going and the belief I would finish it one day. This determination and belief is so important as novel-writing can be a lonely, thankless experience for the unagented, unpublished writer.
When writing the novel I imagined my characters as actors and made sure I broke up the dialogue with actions. I got them to show their anger by throwing a chair or slamming a door, when they were nervous they fidgeted, when they were sad they physically wilted - as I wrote I pictured my characters moving about in the setting I’d created, pictured what I would do if I was acting that part. That really helped me create interesting scenes.
Humour was another enormous lesson I learnt - I wanted to make readers laugh by creating larger-than-life characters and sometimes stretching the silliness as panto so often does. I experiment with timing and comedy in every book I write. I always aim to get people to laugh out loud.
The dialogue is important and writing a play really helped me make it sound believable and flow well. When writing my first book I often spoke the lines aloud as I could pick up clunky sentences or dialogue that didn’t fit that particular character. I still do this for every book.
Above all I really enjoyed writing pantomime so I have always known I needed to enjoy what I was writing. I have been excited about every novel I’ve written and adore coming up with new stories and characters that make me want to sit back at my desk and create another world for them to live in.