1. I am Myers-Briggs type INTP: This makes me very good at sitting alone in my ivory tower writing, but also very good at changing my mind. My debut novel was historical fiction and I’m often asked why I chose to switch genre and write a contemporary thriller, The Image of her, as my second novel. The truth is, I don’t see writing strictly in terms of genre, and am inspired by many things. For The Image of Her it was something quite astonishing that I heard on the news; for my first book, it was the silk weavers of 18th century Spitalfields (where I used to live). These things don’t always conform to genre. I can almost hear the groans coming from the Sales and Marketing department of a certain publisher, but don’t worry; you will LOVE the dystopian fantasy trilogy set in the near future that I am writing next…
2. I don’t choose book ideas, they choose me: In all seriousness, I did start writing a historical follow up to my debut, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d heard on the news. It was about two women, unknown to each other, whose lives intertwined in a way that was both tragic and awe-inspiring, and I found it completely fascinating. I often think being a novelist is like being a medium. You’re a kind of bridge between the real world and the fictional world in your head. If you sit down and summon the spirits, then you can’t really complain when the ones that turn up aren’t the ones you were calling. The two protagonists of The Image of Her, Stella and Connie, simply wouldn’t keep quiet. I wrote their story because it was one that was demanding to be told.
3. I become weirdly fascinated by quite unusual subjects: This means that you probably wouldn’t invite me to your dinner party, but you might want to read one of my books. Perhaps I should warn you that the central theme of The Image of Her is one of the more outré things I’ve fixated on. You may find it challenging to read about, but if you keep an open mind, I feel sure that you will find Stella and Connie’s story as fascinating as I do.
4. It took me over a decade to write my first novel: Obviously I didn’t literally spend 10 years writing it. I would start writing then life would get in the way: job, kids, the usual things. I was also crippled by self doubt. I mention this because I’m certain that there’s someone just like me reading this. Someone who’s been nursing their own novel over years, or decades, wondering if they could ever get it published. Take it from me, you absolutely can.
5. I spent 8 years living in Dubai: I wanted to make the lives of Stella and Connie as different as possible, so Connie is an ex-pat living in Dubai. Stella perceives Connie’s life as charmed (observing it through social media alone), but behind the beaches and brunches Connie is being drawn into a much darker side of Dubai; one that I might not have known existed myself unless I had lived there.
6. I’m terrible at spelling: This always strikes me as an odd thing for a writer to struggle with, but it’s true; I survive by the grace of spellcheck alone.
7. I’m not very good at counting either…