To celebrate the release of her new book The Righteous Spy - out today - we got author Merle Nygate to let us in on 10 things she'd like all of her readers to know about her! Read on to find out what she had to reveal...
1. I’m a passionate cook – but nowhere near MasterChef or Bake Off standard. If I was in the tent I would be the one who dropped the cake, burnt myself and got sent home in the first episode, but I do like cooking for both myself and other people. My chocolate fondants are legendary, my strawberry pavlovas have a dedicated following and my savarin is something special. I also make great chicken soup and give friends frozen bags to take home with them during the flu and cold season.
2. I’ve got a couple of MAs in both screenwriting and crime fiction and I enjoy teaching writing craft. When a friend had a great idea that she wanted to develop but didn’t know how, I set up a writing group in the neighbourhood. There’s now six of us and it’s lovely to see people’s work develop and to bounce around ideas on a Sunday morning.
3. I’m a morning writer and when I’m writing a draft I get up earlier and earlier. I love the quiet, the solitude and newness of the time before dawn. I’ve occasionally had to write through the night to hit a deadline but it always feels like a miserable chore.
4. There’s a framed section of a Star Trek poster above my desk, signed, ‘Best from Gene Rodenberry.’ A friend who worked at Universal got it for me and it’s one of my most treasured possessions – I’m an unreconstructed Trekker. But I do not dress up or do anything weird, okay?
5. My proudest creative moment was working as a script editor on a Channel 4 documentary drama about the commission that led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality. At the first production meeting our brilliant researcher presented the idea that gay people today thought that back then it would have been cool and exciting to have clandestine relationships. The reality was somewhat different. Gay people were entrapped by the police, beaten up and sent to prison. After the programme aired I read chatroom comments saying that we’d accurately portrayed how awful it had been. That felt satisfying.
6. I am good at wallpapering. Entirely self-taught, I have always done up my homes; decorating myself gives me a sense of connection to my home. When I couldn’t afford the wallpaper I wanted, I lined the walls, painted them with matt emulsion and then drew and painted an approximation of the design on the coveted wallpaper. In retrospect, that was a bit mad.
7. I delivered cars in the US when it was the cheapest way of getting around. I remember driving through the night because my co-driver and I couldn’t afford a motel room. While she slept, I watched the sun come up over the Texas desert, thinking I’m 20 and this is something I can only do now.
8. I live with my husband and three rescue dogs – all English Setters. They have had differing miserable starts in life but are now living the dream.
9. I like writing kit and get very excited in pen shops. I use mechanical pencils and A2 cartridge pads to brainstorm and plot stories. I use a fountain pen to write by hand when I have to solve a particularly knotty problem and also to make ‘To Do’ lists. After that it’s Scrivener, an Apple desktop and a deliciously clicky Das keyboard.
10. I worked on the world’s first interactive, internet movie alongside a lot of talented people including Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy. The writing team spent most of the time, drinking, eating and screaming at each other over our creative differences. It really was a lot of fun.
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