I am a morning person, at six-thirty every day I leap out of bed, raring to go. I wish. In fact, I only get up at that time because a) I have a school age child who needs organising and b) I have an ancient dog who wants feeding the moment he wakes up.

The Secrets of Saffron Hall

The Secrets of Saffron Hall

However, getting up early means once everyone has left for school/work I’m able to sit down at my desk and start work. Having spent many years working on IT projects, I am nothing if not extremely well organised. If I’m at the research stage of a book, at this point I’ll happily disappear down a rabbit hole of investigations; a single name or event will lead me to another, until I’ve completely forgotten what I was originally supposed to be looking for. And I can spend hours and hours doing this. But this is how some of my best plots are created.

If I’m already in the writing phase then I have a self-imposed deadline of at least two thousand words a day, Monday-Friday (and often Sunday as I am a golf widow). I stop after the first thousand words for a cup of tea (and biscuits depending on how well it’s all going, either to congratulate myself or for consolation), and then carry on. Two thousand words takes me roughly to lunchtime, when the aforementioned old and overweight dog gets taken for a drag around the local woods. When I’m editing, I need to edit a certain number of chapters per day because I’ll have external deadlines, so sometimes I continue after lunch in order to achieve my daily target.

Afternoons are usually dedicated to all the admin that goes with being a writer, whether it is catching up with social media or writing pieces for blogs etc - this is the fun part which I enjoy; or boring financial paperwork - you won’t be surprised to hear that I don’t enjoy doing this! If I’ve timed everything right then just as the family return home, I’m sat with a cuppa watching an early evening quiz show and they think I haven’t moved from the sofa all day…

My working day doesn’t end there though. When I’m in the writing phase I need to have prepped the following day’s work - I’m definitely a planner, probably stemming from my work in project management. Before I begin a book, I have a detailed outline - not only of the plot, but also each character’s journey through it. This means hopefully I won’t sit down at my keyboard wondering where the story is going, what obstacles I’m going to throw in the characters path, because their passage is already plotted. But usually in the evening I prepare the following day’s work in detail, a list of notes describing exactly what will happen in the next scene or chapter. In the same way that my day always has structure and a plan, so do the people on the page as I organise their lives.

Oh, and just in case you’re thinking I have a housework fairy who does the chores whilst I’m working, I have to tell you sadly I don’t. All the boring stuff gets done with the family helping at the weekend, or just before I sit down in the afternoon when I run around like a woman possessed, doing the bare minimum so the house can be lived in without a grime-busting documentary team arriving on our doorstep.

So, there you have it, a day in the life of a historical novel author!