1.What got you into writing? I’ve always loved to read and I think this is why I also love to write. From a very young age I knew that reading and English were my strong points at school and I used to borrow books from the school library and read them in a day. Judy Blume was a firm favourite growing up. I remember particularly enjoying the book Deenie. I also recall receiving a gift for my birthday (a pretty notepad and pen) and writing my own story in it (I liked to imagine it was my own book), which I still have to this day. It makes me smile when I read it; it’s actually quite long!
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? My writing days completely vary. I also run My Celebrity Dress, a designer dress hiring website and some days I’m really busy and only have a spare thirty minutes. Whenever I get a free moment though I make sure I’m writing and I’m always thinking about my story and the characters. Some days I write early in the morning or some days I’ll be writing until ten at night. No two days are the same with me!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I get some days where I think I should be writing and I’ll sit down and try, but I’m just not in the mood. When this happens, I just try again the next day as I feel like there is no point in forcing yourself to write, so I don’t beat myself up about it. Some days I’ll manage about 20 words, whereas others I’ll manage 4000; no two days are ever the same! I come up with the best ideas and storylines when I’m really enjoying writing and my fingers just can’t type quickly enough!
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? When I first started Essex Girls I didn’t have a storyline at all. I just wrote every day and see where it took me. I would be walking the dogs or cooking dinner and I’d suddenly think ‘I know what can happen next to this character or that character’. It was always on my mind, which shows just how much a novel takes over my life when I’m writing it. Even now, when I meet new people, I look out for their expressions and traits and imagine them as characters in my book! I prefer to make stories up as I go along, though for my second book I did a very rough plan, which I constantly changed. I don’t have a routine due to my other jobs, but I do find that I work best in the evenings.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I was very lucky and it took only 4-5 months after completing my first novel to be told it was going to be published. It took me about 8-9 months to write it (though I stopped in the middle because I moved house) and it was the first book I’d ever completed. I studied creative writing at university and I’d only ever written short stories before this; writing a novel is a completely different ball game! When I’d finished Essex Girls, I actually contacted a local author (Kimberley Chambers) and asked her for some advice. Kimberley kindly got back to me about a week later and told me to buy ‘The Writers and Artists Yearbook’ and go from there so this is exactly what I did. I contacted a few agents I felt I’d be suited to, and not long after I heard from my agent, Hannah Ferguson at The Marsh Agency. Before I knew it, I was meeting an editor from Harper Collins who was keen on publishing my book. It all happened really fast and I know how lucky I was to strike gold on my first attempt at getting published. I would advise authors to look for a gap in the market before they even start writing. I did some research before I began writing Essex Girls to see if there was any other Essex inspired chick lit, which at the time, there wasn’t. I really believe this helped me to get published. I would also recommend two books: The Writers and Artists Yearbook and the Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Rachael Stock, which I found really helpful. There are tips in there about writing cover letters, how to approach agents and what you should and shouldn’t do; it’s a really useful book. I honestly believe if writing is your passion, then getting published should just be a bonus, so never give up. It’s difficult, but try not to let rejections dampen your spirits. Keep going! I’ve spoken to several authors recently who have told me it took them years to get published. I had previously attempted to get some short stories published in women’s magazines, without success, but it didn’t put me off trying again. Writing is a release for me and a great way to escape; if you feel the same then never give up hope. It’s good to remember that even JK Rowling received rejection letters!
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Seeing my book for the first time I felt a great sense of achievement. I loved my launch party too, it was so much fun! I’ve had some great times promoting the book doing radio interviews and even getting my hair blow dried just for doing a short interview (def one of the highlights!).
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? Its light hearted and fun like Essex Girls, but there is a twist in the storyline this time and the readers will see much more of Adele. It has some new characters too such as Chloe Sam’s sister and Adele’s friend, Donna. Jade and Sam face some problems in their relationship, as do Kelly and Billy. The question is, will their relationships survive?
8.What do you enjoy doing besides writing? Shopping, walking my dogs, going to the gym, spending time with friends and family. Going on holiday is always nice too.
9.What is your all time favourite book(s)? I honestly couldn’t say! (sorry) Such a hard questions to answer. I love Sophie Kinsella, Kimberley Chambers, Lesley Pearce, Martina Cole and Lianne Moriarty; quite a mixed bag!
10.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Victoria Beckham. I would dress down in flats and smile for the paparazzi to give them a field day. Oh and of course because of the fact that David would be my husband…