1. I grew up in Belfast during the seventies and the eighties but despite the Troubles, I had a great childhood. Growing up books were always important to me, and I read everything I could get my hands on. I lived near a library and frequented it along with a second-hand book shop. I devoured all the Enid Blyton’s especially The Famous Five series, The Across the Barricades series by Joan Lingard, as well as All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot and the Gerald Durrell Corfu books, My Family and Other Animals trilogy.
2. I come from a close-knit family and have a huge circle of aunts, uncles and cousins. Our family gatherings have given me some of my best memories. My father grew up in the Markets area where I set part of my new book, ‘Who took Eden Mulligan?’ My grandmother Kitty’s many stories would often start or end up back there.
3. My son Owen died when he was six following a diagnosis of a brain tumour, at the age of two. He was the most beautiful boy – blond curly hair and brown eyes with curly eyelashes. Not a day goes by when we don’t talk about him and miss him. I owe it to Owen to make the best of my life and that drives me.
4. Before lockdown I designed and delivered creative writing workshops for a cancer charity. There is a great sense of relief in being able to share your own narrative and to find creative self-expression can be life enhancing.
5. I love cats. My dad took me to get me my first cat. I can remember Maggie May was playing on the radio and when he asked me what I wanted to name it, I took inspiration from the song. Maggie May turned out to be male but he kept his name all the same.
6. I am terrified of heights. I can’t even watch something that shows a camera angle from a height. My palms sweat and I feel ill. Even thinking about it affects me. Once I took the Thames cable car with my mum and spent the entire crossing in a state of panic. I missed the views as I had my head buried while I screamed. The people in the car behind us and in front of us were roaring with laughter.
7. During the first lockdown my agent emailed to say we had an offer from Avon for a two-book deal. It was a wonderful moment amidst a bleak time. Then a week later, I received another life changing email, telling me that I had been successful in being awarded funding do to a creative-critical PhD at Queen’s University, exploring class and gender in crime fiction. As expected, I’ve been extremely busy!