As a child I loved crime books and old movies, in my teens I was hooked on golden age crime novels but also films such as The Night of the Hunter and The Big Sleep. I would say that my writing is as influenced by film noir as it is by Agatha Christie. I started writing at an early age, mostly planning spy novels featuring a character called Deanna. I was first published in Pony Club Annual when I was about 14 after writing a poem about a foal.
My writing quickly took a darker twist and in the same year I wrote a short story in my mock English exam. The theme was a journey to work and I described a traffic jam and the driver’s compulsion to discover the cause of the hold up. The point was to make the reader feel the narrator’s mix of revulsion and fascination as the scene unfolded. My English teacher threw it across the desk and told me that it was the most disgusting thing he’d ever read and that if I continued in that vein I would fail. I have been asked whether teachers encouraged my writing, the answer has to be ‘no’.
When I was writing my first novel I decided to do film extra work; there was plenty of waiting around on set which gave me time to write. I love 1950s music and fashion and have been wearing vintage and retro clothes since I was in my early teens and, because of this, I’ve been in the background of several period dramas including Lucky Jim and Honest as well as crime dramas including Anni ’60 and Rosemary and Thyme.
My husband and I were married at the Coco Palms in Hawaii, the same hotel used for filming the Elvis movie Blue Hawaii. By co-incidence we also met on Elvis and Priscilla’s 30th wedding anniversary.
We have two children, Lana 18 and Dean 13. They are both keen actors and musicians. They are also keen animal lovers and, thanks to them, we now have eight cats in the family.
I love the research element of writing and particularly when it relates to the nitty-gritty of solving crimes. As a result of working with an extremely kind and accommodating pathologist I am now studying for a degree in crime and investigation. There are amazing innovations coming through and it is the perfect opportunity to develop new story ideas.
I am known for featuring Cambridge in my novels, where I have lived since 1998. When I am writing about a particular location I visit it, preferably at the same time of day as when the scene is set. I have often walked through Cambridge’s deserted city centre at night time in order to shadow my character’s movements. I know from my own experience how a place that’s relaxed and beautiful in the daytime can take on a quite different tone at night and it is both those faces of Cambridge that I share with my readers.