1. I’m an avid reader. I LOVE books and read a lot – paperbacks, hardbacks and on my Kindle. When I was a child, I read all the time, and because we didn’t have much money, I re-read books and was a regular visitor at the local library.

Cathy Lake and her dogs

Cathy Lake and her dogs

2. I’m CONSTANTLY thinking about writing… EVERYTHING offers inspiration and I have notebooks around the house and in all my bags. People ask if I ever run out of ideas and the answer is NO! I also binge write and can write up to 6k a day.

3. I’m dog mad. We have a rescue greyhound and two British bulldogs, and I would adopt more if we had room. Adopting Freya from Greyhound Rescue Wales has inspired a lot of my stories and readers will often find rescue dogs in my books. I walk every day with my husband and dogs and find being outside clears my head and lifts my mood.

4. I have 2 bearded dragons named Andrew and Cheeky. We did have four but lost two in 2019. When I was teaching, we didn’t feel it was fair to have dogs as they’d be left home alone, so we had bearded dragons instead. Andrew will turn 13 this year and his daughter, Cheeky, will be 11.

5. I love writing romance because I enjoy creating complex main characters with emotional baggage and bringing them gently, gradually and cautiously together. The journey they go on mustn’t be easy; there must be plenty of conflict – both internal and external – and there will always be a black moment, when the conflict is at its highest and it seems as though there couldn’t possibly be a happy outcome. The point of a romance isn’t just that everyone has someone, but that everyone is fulfilled. When I write romances, I want the characters to evolve to a state where they don’t need someone else, but are finally ready to be with someone. They have to be strong enough, confident enough, and to have developed enough, to be in a fulfilling relationship.

6. BUT I do want to write something darker and have some exciting ideas mapped out. I love reading romance but I also enjoy domestic noir fiction and really want to write in this genre too. There are so many possibilities and I’m always asking What if…

7. Even though I was an English teacher for 18 years, I’m an introvert. I’m very socially awkward and can become anxious about meeting new people and speaking at online events. I do it but it’s not easy for me.

8. I had a tattoo of a quill done on my left arm on my 43rd birthday. It’s surrounded by splashes of colour and I had it done to celebrate my love of writing and because I’d always wanted a tattoo, but it had to be the right one for me.

9. If I couldn’t write, the only other jobs I can imagine doing would be working with animals, especially dogs, or working with books in some way, whether in publishing or in a library. It’s books and dogs all the way for me!

The Country Village Summer Fete by Cathy Lake published by Zaffre on 10th June 2021, Paperback original, eBook and Audio, £8.99

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I speak 2.3 languages. Growing up in Malaysia, I spoke English with my family at home. My parents spoke Hokkien (a Chinese dialect) with each other. Among my wider family, the mutually unintelligible Chinese dialects of Hakka, Cantonese and Mandarin were also widely used. At school, I learnt the official national language of Malay, as well as some Mandarin and later, GCSE Spanish. Although I am not remotely fluent in any language except English and Malay, the multiplicity of tongues I grew up around found its way into my work. You can see it in the dialogue in my Malaysia-set novel Black Water Sister, which echoes the rhythms of the rich and variegated English spoken in Malaysia...