1. I don’t know whether I’m doing it right either. My new book, Never Say No tells Hailey’ story of finding her feet in her late twenties, letting go of expectations (both society’s and her own) and embracing her own happily ever now. In many ways I wrote it because I needed to hear it – not because I’ve ‘figured it all out’ (if that’s even a thing) but because I’m still very much on that journey. I’m so grateful that I now get to share a part of that journey with my readers too.
2. My best friend thinks I’m a ‘country pumpkin’. As you probably know the actual phrase is a ‘country bumpkin’ – but try telling my best friend that. I grew up in Derbyshire, in a place called Chesterfield, just on the edge of the Peak District. And today I live in London Bridge, right in the heart of the city. I spent a long time wondering if I was a country or a city girl, but I’ve given up trying to decide – give me a flat white in a busy Bermondsey square or a long run over muddy fields any day.
3. I love to paint – but don’t make nearly enough time for it. Ever since I was little, I have been drawing and painting and have continued to enjoy it throughout my teens and twenties. It’s a great way to unwind after a week of looking at words and now it’s my usual go-to for my friends’ Christmas and wedding presents!
4. I missed the first flight of my gap year (oh the shame). Growing up I was such a home bird (I was known to get sent home from sleepovers for feeling home sick!) but I knew I wanted to conquer that fear and see the world. After a few shorter trips, I mustered up the courage to save and set off on a much larger ‘round the world’ adventure. After a teary and over the top airport farewell, my friend and I got so distracted shopping in duty free that we missed our final boarding call. When I phoned my parents to say I’d missed my flight, they couldn’t believe it – they had to turn the car around and come and sort us out. How they put their naive eighteen-year-old daughter on a plane to Tokyo the next day is beyond me. But thank God they did!
5. I lived in Sydney for a year. As part of my degree I had the opportunity to live and study in Sydney for a year, which is the setting for my first book The Spare Bedroom. Arriving with three strangers from the same uni, we reasoned that given that we’d be out in the sunshine all the time, we’d save rent by sharing bedrooms – and as we were a group of three girls and one guy and none of us girls wanted to be ‘left out’ we decided to squeeze three girls into one room. I soon found myself sharing a double bed with a relative stranger for six whole months. The bad news is it wasn’t sunny all the time. The good news is that I’m still besties with my bedmate to this day.
6. I graduated university with a first-class law degree – and then decided not to use it. I loved studying law and was easily the nerdiest of my friends (not the smartest, I might add, just the biggest try-hard) but as graduation came, I started going back to church. This was something I did when I was younger but going again just reminded me of all the other things I used to love: drawing, painting and most importantly, storytelling. It exposed me to different walks of life and encouraged me to make a slightly different move of my own – a little like Hailey’s decision in Never Say No – although she went for the far more lucrative option!
7. I worked at British Vogue – well, for three weeks. In my final year at university, I received a letter to my house-share with that iconic brand on it – Vogue – and my housemates and I were so excited. I went down to London for a three-week internship at the best fashion magazine out there and had such a good time! Many people have likened my latest book to The Devil Wear’s Prada, but I promise I saw no diva activities in the three weeks I was there!
8. I edit other people’s books for a living – and I love it. I now work in publishing full time as a senior commissioning editor of non-fiction books. I love finding and shaping new narratives working with authors to bring their ideas to life and finally get them into the hands of readers. I’m currently writing my next book and have no idea where my writing will take me, but right now I love the balance of working on my own books and being inspired and encouraged by the work of others.
9. Turning 30 wasn’t what I expected. Like the main characters in Never Say No, I wrote a large part of this book whilst facing the big 3-0. I planned so many trips away and a big party – and then lock-down happened! Instead of all the big ideas I had planned, I spent my birthday in the garden with just my parents for company – and do you know what? I loved it. If lockdown has taught me anything it’s that bigger is not always better and nothing beats a glass of champagne with people you love.
10. I haven’t done it alone. I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember – long before anyone other than my parents wanted to read them – and I always plan to, whether they’re published professionally or not. One of the greatest things about getting a book published though is that you don’t have to do it alone – I’ve had the pleasure of working with a brilliant agent and some amazing publishing people, all of whom have made any book you’ve read of mine infinitely more sparkly!