1. Like Nora in The Lost Girls of Foxfield Hall, I am a total rare books geek. Books are and have always been one of my favourite things in the world. In my everyday life, I work as a specialist librarian and have visited some of the most amazing libraries in the world. I’ve even held a first printing of The Prophecies of Nostradamus. Due to lockdown my library is closed at the moment and I miss it terribly.
2. I love to make things – latest things have been facemasks, handbound notebooks, foral wreaths, cushion covers and I have a plan to use some old curtains to make a cover for a sofa (not clothes. I am not Maria Von Trapp). My mum was an artist, an embroideress and trained as a dressmaker so I grew up with an attitude of “I can make that at home.” This sometimes spills over into “I’m not paying that much for that!”
3. I’ve been writing all my life. I used to write little books and stories as a child. By the time I was fourteen or fifteen I was writing novels. I know this because I was caught in a German class writing a story in a copybook, balanced on my knees under the desk (I don’t know why, it seemed like a good idea at the time). I also write as Ruth Frances Long and won a European Science Fiction Society Award for my YA book, A Crack in Everything.
4. I love to sing. I played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz on stage twice. I sing very loudly in the car.
5. One of my most treasured possessions is a paid of creepy corn dollies, which inspired The Lost Girls of Foxfield Hall. I know they came from my parents’ house but have no idea where they got them. They’re quite old at this stage and a little rickety. They have pride of place on my bookshelves (just to be safe).
6. When writing a new book I usually write longhand first in one of my vast collection of notebooks. With some books it’s just initial notes and research. With others it’s the whole book (more or less). If ever I get stuck writing a scene I go back to the notebook and write longhand until I can work out what’s happening and get back on track. I have a stack of notebooks still to be used. I need to find the right one for a new book and I’m really particular about the paper, the cover, the texture, the lines etc. Sometimes I’ve had to switch notebooks and that’s just traumatic. (Writers’ brains are really weird).
7. I have a cat and a lurcher, which is a greyhound cross (the softest, loveliest dog you’ll ever meet). The dog seems to think she’s a cat, thanks to our previous cat who was an excellent foster parent to her when she was a puppy. Now she thinks the current cat is her puppy/kitten. They have to sleep in the same room or the dog wakes us all up whining. The dog likes to perch along the back of the sofa and look out at the road. She is not a small dog. It is not a big sofa. Online they are knowns as Diva doggy and Manicpixiedreamkitten. They have fans.
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