Ruthless is a sprawling, engrossing and thrilling read and the 5th book in the best-selling Annie Carter series, in which old enemies return to plague her – and old romances, too. It spans the 70’s and 80’s and moves from Ireland and New York to the grit and grime of London’s East End and the luxury and decadence of the finest 5 star hotels the West End has to offer.

You are the youngest of eight children with seven older brothers, so tell us a bit about your childhood.

My childhood was at first very easy, very privileged – then at around the age of 10, things started going wrong: the family firm went bust amid recriminations and rows, the bank took our home (it had been put up as security on a loan), my father died of lung cancer, and my mother and I ended up pretty much penniless on a rough council estate

Your father died when you were in your teens, so how did this result in you leaving school without qualifications?

I was broken-hearted when my father died, and devastated by all the family rows. I had already been accepted at the local art college, dependant on achieving 5 ‘O’ levels – which I spectacularly (and not really surprisingly) failed to do. I think I was traumatised

When you left home, why did you decide to go to London?

The leaving home was a brief act of madness and desperation. Life had become so bad that I thought all I wanted to do was break out of it. London had always appealed to me, and I had a friend there I could crash with, so at 17 I went there and it made a big impression on me. However, I got homesick for my Mum, and returned home within a few months.

You were living on the last of your savings when Dirty Game was acquired by HarperCollins so what would you plan have been if this had not happened?

The last of my savings and Dirty Game.

I did not have a Plan B! I just wrote this book (the first in the Annie Carter series, as it happens) about a girl coming up against the 60’s gangland culture in London. After years of attempting chick lit, suddenly this felt so much easier. And I know it sounds weird, but the moment I’d finished it, I knew it was something special and maybe I wouldn’t need a plan B anyway. Which was proved when HarperCollins published it, and it went straight into the bestsellers as a number one heatseeker.

Did you visit New York and Ireland to form the setting of your current book?

I did visit New York and Ireland as this forms a part of Ruthless, just to get a feel for both places.

What is your writing process?

My writing process is morning I write, afternoons I edit & think. I plough through a fast first draft, then refine it until it squeaks!

What is your advice for new writers?

Advice for new writers: write what you love, write what moves you. Feel it as you put it on the page. If you don’t, it’s no good. And persist. Endlessly persist.

At what age did you begin to write?

I began to write almost as soon as I could crawl from the cradle. I remember painting pictures in primary school with little dialogue bubbles floating above the characters’ heads – the writing always intrigued me more than the painting, though. And we put on plays, wrote stories – I won my first award for writing aged 8.


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