Well, I live near Newcastle Upon Tyne in the North East of England, I am married with two kids, and a Jack Russell named Simba. I have tried my hand at a whole range of careers, and am not afraid of hard work, however I am only ever truly happy when I am writing.
What do you do when you are not writing? At the moment if I am not writing then 9 times out of 10 I am with my mum who is very poorly right now, we are also in the middle of a house move, so life is chaotic as usual!
Do you have a day job as well? No, I am fortunate that my husband is able to support us.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book? I started writing as a child, I would sit on top of the kitchen table with my diary, I didn’t finish my first book until the grand old age of 41.
How did you choose the genre you write in? At the moment I am writing in a paranormal genre, and it kind of found me because I have always been obsessed with death and the afterlife, I am looking to really stretch myself though and start writing in other genres as well, including erotic fiction, under a pen name of Luna Ballantyne.
Where do you get your ideas? My ideas come from everywhere – I genuinely believe that Granny Irene was streamed to me, I also get a lot of ideas from my dreams, and I currently have a production line of novels in my head just waiting to be unleashed!
Do you ever experience writer’s block? – I used to which is probably why it has taken me so long to write my first novel! However touch wood, at the moment I seem to be in a more creative place, and if I find myself getting worn out with a novel, I simply put it to one side for a day or two and work on something else – That is the beauty of having several projects on the go at once!
Do you work with an outline, or just write? With Granny Irene, I just wrote. I just sat at my laptop and let it all out. With the Tunnel of Love, the novella I am working on, I had an idea at the beginning about how it would pan out, and it is staying true to that.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult? Where do I start – I would say at the moment I am really into all of the works by Stephen King, as a child I loved Enid Blyton, but that certainly hasn’t influenced my style of writing!
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published? Well, I had an agent who was very interested, and that gave me a lot of hope, in fact it probably pushed me to complete the book earlier than I would have done, however things didn’t work out in the end and we went our own ways, which was a little frustrating, however it was my decision which make it easier to swallow! I have found the whole process a learning curve, and I am still learning..
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change? I probably wouldn’t have put as much hope in the agent as I did. I think I would have had a stronger belief in my own ability.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre? I am still exploring. I like Facebook and twitter, and I have experimented with several blogs/sites but have finally found the perfect fit for me. I have also managed to get some copies of my novel into a small mind body spirit shop near where I live.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book? I am working on a couple of things, first and foremost I am converting Granny Irene’s Guide to the Afterlife into a series. (It was originally intended to be a trilogy) My first book is very big at 800 pages, so I am breaking that down into what will become the first 3 books of the series. I am also working on a novella, The Tunnel of Love which centers around the near death experience of the main character.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination? I would say that it’s a bit of both. It would be impossible not to write from experience.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? I loved the scenes with Hel ( Nordic Queen of the Dead) as well as the Beserk Brides a fictional tribe of emotionally scarred women.
How did you come up with the title? I used the name of the main character, and tried to fit the title to the theme.
What project are you working on now? The Tunnel of Love
Will you have a new book coming out soon? Yes, the revised first book in the Granny Irene Series will hopefully be published over the next couple of months, I am hoping the Tunnel of Love will be ready for publication by the end of the year, and my alter ego Luna Ballantyne will be bringing out her first erotic novel in 2014
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with? I am currently revisiting the character of Harry, and because Granny Irene is a series I will be working extensively with several of my favourite characters again.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment? Well, I received a review which said something along the lines of the book being written by the evil forces of darkness, and I thought hang on a minute, they are referring to me, and I am real, I have feelings!! However I fully respect that readers are entitled to their opinions and I try to learn from the constructive comments! I have received a whole load of lovely comments including someone who said that the book was unlike everything she had ever read, she meant it in a positive way, and I like the fact that my writing is different, it is quirky, and that I am not easily replicated!
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers? Don’t ever give up and try and stay true to yourself.
Some fun Questions:
Have you ever gone out in public with your shirt on backwards, or your slippers on, and when realizing it, just said screw it? Yes all of the time, I like to think of myself as eccentric and I generally don’t conform to socially accepted norms of how I should look.
Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point? Well, it doesn’t take much to throw a duvet on does it..
Do you get road rage? What pisses you off the most about other drivers? I can’t drive! Failed my test 9 times and gave up, I figure the world is probably safer with me not on the roads!
Coffee or Tea? Coffee definitely, although I am starting to get a taste for flavoured teas.