I was brought up in a Northern working class town. That spirit and humour never leaves you wherever you go in the world. It’s part of my writing ‘voice’.

Helen Black

Helen Black

Before I was a writer, I was a lawyer. I used to love presenting cases in court. I hated the endless paperwork.

The first question any defence lawyer is asked is ‘how can you represent someone you think is guilty?’ I wrote my first novel, Damaged Goods, as a partial answer to that.

I’ve been married for twenty years. When I told my husband I wanted to write a book, he didn’t laugh; he bought me a lap top.

I have eighteen year old twins. They’re clever and funny and kind. But neither of them have ever read any of my books. Who wants to know that their mother spends time thinking about the best ways to smuggle drugs into jail?

My family and I are all avid supporters of Liverpool FC. None of us are from there but we go to Anfield a couple of times each season to watch a match. I defy anyone not to get choked when the crowd starts singing You’ll Never Walk Alone.

I have a dog called Peanut. She’s a Border terrier, but thinks she’s human. A small male human in a pub at last orders to be exact. If she thinks another dog is looking at her funny, she’ll have them.

I’m terrible at spelling and grammar. The letter from my agent offering me a contract suggested a buy myself a copy of Eats, Shoots & Leaves. Fifteen years later he’s still selling my books and trying to decipher my emails.

I try to write every day for several hours. I usually have a few projects on the go at any one time, so I might work on one in the morning and a different one in the afternoon. When deadlines loom I’m like a word factory. I’m often still typing the night before I’m due to submit.

The best piece of advice I can give anyone who wants to write a book is to get on with it. Thinking about it and talking about it are all very well, but to get an eighty thousand word draft you have to just do the work. It takes three times as long as anyone thinks it will.