I hadn’t written any fiction since my schooldays, when English Composition was my favourite homework. I couldn’t wait to get home to get started on it! Then five or six years ago I went on a writing week and I was hooked.
I’m pet free at the moment but as a child I kept mice. I used to let them run up the sleeve of my cardigan, across my shoulders and down the other sleeve. I’m not sure I could do that now!
As a bit of a wildlife nut I’m always pointing out flowers or birds to my walking companions and you’ll find that descriptions of landscapes and nature play quite a big part in my books.
I used to be a DJ… I hated the heavy metal discos at the Students Union so my friend Sheila lent me a suitcase full of Tamla Motown 45s and I ran a disco every few weeks. I’ve still got all the 12” singles that I bought to play at that time.
I’ve got a phobia about lofts. I used to have terrible nightmares about vast undiscovered rooms up in the attic, with leaking ceilings and tattered wallpaper. Thankfully, the dreams have ceased, but the fear lingers on. When my daughter needed to get a box out of my loft recently, we had to go up a ladder and try to hook it out with a ceiling decorating pole because neither of us would go in there.
I recently moved to the country after years spent in London, latterly with a patio garden and a couple of window boxes. Now I have gardens front and back but I don’t think I will ever be a ‘proper’ gardener – I’d much rather sit in my garden and admire it than work in it!
Three of the things on my bucket list are to see a red squirrel (in this country – I’ve seen one in France, which doesn’t count), see puffins and to see the Northern Lights. Scotland and the islands – here I come!
I write in longhand and then type up on the computer. It means I can work anywhere although in practice I tend to write in my study overlooking the garden, in the garden or summerhouse, or by the logburner in winter. It certainly beats twenty or more years of commuting into London!
The story of Beth and John in Ella’s Journey is based in part on fragments of my grandparents’ story. My grandfather was the son of the local well-to-do family, who farmed and bred cattle, and family legend has it that my grandmother was their seamstress. If the First World War hadn’t changed the social landscape, as well as ruining my grandfather’s livelihood, their story would have been very different.
My favourite season is autumn. It always feels like the start of something new – it must be a throwback to schooldays. So it seems fitting that Ella’s Journey is being published in October.