I have been scribbling stories since I was ten years old. I think that was when I realised that my dream was to become a writer. I wrote my first full length novel over twenty years ago, in long-hand, and it's still in a shoe box on the top of my wardrobe gathering dust. It was only whilst I was in New York celebrating a milestone birthday that I thought again about writing another story. Hurricane Sandy meant we were stranded there for six days and everything had shut down. So I grabbed a pen and an exercise book and started to write The Runaway Bridesmaid, which is set in Manhattan before switching to the Devon countryside. This time I made sure I typed it up and sent it out to agents and publishers.
2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you?
It might sound strange but for me one of the toughest parts is coming up with the characters' names. It takes me days, sometimes weeks to come up with the perfect name. A person's name is so important, it's such an integral part of who they are and how we perceived them. It has to reflect their age, their personality, where they were born and be a perfect fit for the character I'm trying to create for the story.
3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing?
It has to be writing the first draft. I love getting to know the characters I've created as they struggle with the obstacles I've put in their way. Sometimes they surprise me!
4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?
I love books written by people who have taken the amazing decision to change their lives by moving to another country. I enjoy reading about their trials of doing up a dilapidated barn or farm, as well as settling into the local community and learning the language. Some of my favourites are Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart (love that title), Snowball Oranges by Peter Kerr and of course A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. I've just read Wild by Cheryl Strayed and loved it. I also thoroughly enjoyed the books written by Karen Wheeler - Tout Sweet: Hanging up my High Heels for a New Life in France.
5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
It would have to be Rosie Hamilton in The Runaway Bridesmaid. She was my first heroine. She overcame lots of obstacles to find her Happy Ever After. And I love her attempts at 'baking herself better' from the recipes in her aunt Bernice's journal.
6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do?
One of the things I do to relax is archery. So - I'd love to spend the day with Legolas from Lord Of The Rings.
7. What can we expect next from you?
I'm busy working on my fourth book at the moment. I've completed the first draft and now knee deep in edits. It's set in glorious Cornwall so I'm enjoying the research and the dreaming, not to mention the clotted cream teas I have to eat to get myself in the mood. I hope it will be out early Spring 2017. I've also got a story in my mind for book number five, but that's just at the planning stages.
8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out?
The best advice I received from writer friends when I was starting out was to just write. Put your fingers on the keyboard and write, write, write. It doesn't have to be perfect at the beginning - don't fret about punctuation or spelling errors. Just get the story down and then you can spend time editing. You can't edit an empty page.
9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you.
I still write in long hand. It's a habit I don't seem to be able to break. So I will scribble in the morning and then type up what I've written in the afternoon. When I'm writing a first draft, I try to aim for around 2,000 words a day, but it's not set in stone - great if I can do more! I have a peppermint-and-cream writer's retreat (garden shed) which I love to work in in the summer months.
10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I'm reading Extra Virgin by Annie Hawes who moved from Shepherd's Bush to the north west of Italy to live in a tiny rustico in the hills. I also have her next book Ripe For The Picking ready for when I finish it.
When life gives you lemons, make lemon-drizzle cupcakes…
Lucie thought that proposing to her boyfriend in Tiffany’s would be the best day of her life. Until he said no. In just a few seconds, her whole world is turned upside-down! And when she accidentally switches cocoa powder for chilli powder at work, she finds herself out of a job, too…
Baking has always made life better in the past, but can Lucie really bake her way to happiness? Starting her own company, selling cupcakes out of an old ice cream van might just be the second chance that Lucie needs!
Of course, she never expected to find love along the way…
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