I trained as a composer at the Royal Academy of Music in London. When I was there the stage version of Mamma Mia was launched in the West End. I remember there being a lot of buzz about the auditions amongst my fellow students. Now, having written a novel with a character who adores Mamma Mia, it feels lovely to have come full circle. It’s now almost twenty years later, and it’s great to be part of that excitement again.
I had loads of different jobs before becoming a novelist. I started out in the music industry as an orchestral fixer’s assistant (working on the recordings of big Hollywood films scores) then as a composer’s assistant (producing scores and assisting on sessions) and going on to work for an assistant for three very big names in the world of music, art and P.R. It was an interesting time but I always had a gut feeling the music industry wasn’t for me and I dreamt of either being a doctor or a writer so…
I went to medical school five years after graduating from the Academy. It was during medical training that I realised my heart belonged to writing. At that stage I hadn’t figured out what sort of writer I wanted to become – given my background in music and film I could have pursued becoming a songwriter, lyricist or screenwriter, but children’s writing was the thing I leaned to most. At that stage I hadn’t really considered becoming a novelist.
I didn’t have the confidence to pack in work all together. I worked part-time and developed my writing during my time off. After a couple of years I was fortunate to win a writing competition, which gave me mentoring from an agent, writer and publisher.
I went on to study for a Creative Writing MA at Bath Spa. I had to commute between Edinburgh and Bath each week, which was exhausting, but it was a huge amount of fun and an experience I wouldn’t change for the world. My first novel was published less than a year after graduating.
I was lucky that my agent found me. She read my work in the Bath Spa Anthology and contacted me to ask if she could represent me. I was fortunate to have a few agents interested in taking me on but there was something about her that told me she was going to be a good match – she worked hard to get me and I figured it said something about her work ethic. My instinct was right, she has worked unbelievably hard to make me the writer I am today.
My Mamma Mia Summer is the seventh novel that I’ve written. Of the others, one was published in the UK & US under another name, two were published in five countries overseas, one was rejected by my agent (it happens!) and I’m currently redrafting the other two in preparation for publishers. The road to becoming a novelist isn’t always easy, and there is endless restructuring and editing but, for me, it really is the dream job.