I was born by candlelight. It was December 1970 and there were power cuts all over the UK. Apparently some hospitals managed to hitch up to ice cream van generators for electricity, but my mum and her midwife made do with a candle.
I didn’t write stories as a child. I was too busy reading them. I wasn’t particularly ambitious and the idea of being a professional writer never occurred to me. At my comprehensive school we were told not to choose the creative writing option in our English exam. The teacher said we’d get tied in knots and end up saying it was all a dream.
I once played Deirdre Barlow in a school assembly. I was a massive Coronation Street fan, and so I persuaded my form to put together an anti-gambling morality tale starring Stan Ogden and Terry Duckworth. I borrowed my mum’s glasses.
After university I became a journalist. I trained as a reporter on the Bridport News, where the TV series Broadchurch is set. I still use my shorthand – I love having a secret code which only fellow Teeliners can crack.
At 34 I wrote my first short story. I had three young children by then and somehow felt brave enough to try my hand at fiction. The story won a local competition, which gave me the confidence to try another...
I have no idea how I wrote my first novel. Bloody-mindedness, I guess, plus the support of my family and writing buddies. Before the Fall was published in 2014 and now my second novel, The Faithful, is out. I’m so proud of my books but it still seems surreal to me that I actually wrote them.
I’ve been chased by cows three times. I’m really scared of cows, and a bit scared of sheep. But I still go on country walks because I love being outdoors. I want to be a proper birdwatcher but I always forget to take my binoculars.
I fall asleep on trains. Perhaps it’s something to do with a gently-rocking carriage. But I also fall asleep in the cinema and the theatre. When it’s dark and I’m being told a story, I just think ‘how lovely’ and feel my eyes start to droop.
I used to be terrified of public speaking. Maybe I was scarred by the school assembly, but until recently I would do anything to avoid being in the spotlight. Then Before the Fall came out, and I knew I had to conquer the fear. To my amazement, I now really enjoying speaking at literary events. I even get asked back!
I read vintage sex manuals while researching The Faithful. The book opens in the summer of 1935 and the main character, Hazel, finds a book called Ideal Marriage in her parents’ bedroom. It was a bestseller in the 1920s and it’s surprisingly frank and forward-thinking. We tend to assume that most women were sexually repressed until the 1960s, but the success of Ideal Marriage would suggest otherwise!