Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
I am a writer and a teacher living in a cottage by a stream in mid-west Wales UK. I live here because it’s better than living in the real world and I write novels and articles in the spare time I create by avoiding the housework and not sleeping properly. I write because I can’t help it – I’ve always written stories, even when I was a child. I idolised characters like Jo March from Little Women by Louisa May Allcott and always entertained dreams of sitting at a desk in a long dress writing with a fountain! I finished my first novel length manuscript at eighteen. Let’s just say I’ve improved a lot since then. Now I write fantasy and fiction novels, the occasional short story and articles about education, mental health and social issues. I have two cats who like to help; they aren’t very good at it.
Tell us about your books.
My main work is a series called ‘The Black River Chronicles’ – which are fantasy novels that follow the fates of a group of hapless adventurers who seem to have little choice but to constantly try to save the world from whoever is trying to tear it to pieces this time. From the ‘Summer of Fire’ (book 0, the prequel) – a terrifying time of wars both among Gods and mortals, through ‘The Winter That Follows’ (book 1) as the survivors try to piece back a normality from the shattered remains, to the building of ‘The Freetown Bridge’ (book 2) by the Inquisition – not the monument to peace that it is supposed to be – they try to stay alive and find fortune and fame in spite of everything. They are swept up in a greater evil, so that they find themselves witnessing the ‘Dawn of Darkness’ (book 3) and are left ‘In Shadows, Waiting’ (book 4) for what will follow.
My fictional works are largely about teachers – they say write what you know!
None of these are as yet available to readers.
How did you go about getting published?
I self-published my fantasy novels because I felt that traditional publishing would be impossible for them. The fantasy genre is very popular and oversubscribed with authors and traditional publish is notoriously closed-shop. I wanted the stories to be read, so I published them on kindle myself.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
I write best in the evenings or late at night. I like to write sitting on my bed in my bedroom – sometimes with the company of one of my kitties. I find that if I wait until the evening I have a better chance of clearing my head enough to make progress with the story. I also have an unfortunate habit of eating marshmallows or other sweets whilst I write.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
I am a full-time maths teacher, working with vulnerable and difficult learners. This takes up a fair amount of time. I am also an adult leader with Girlguiding UK and run weekly meetings for girls aged 10-16. I also enjoy yoga. Apart from that I like needlecrafts, films, music and gardening – and of course my much loved kitties.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
A striking or gripping book cover is more valuable than any opening line. If the cover is bland, no one will ever read that first line. Don’t over-crowd, chose a clear, relevant image and an easy to read but artistically appropriate font for the writing.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
Twitter is the thing I use most, but I’m no marketing guru
What’s your favorite book?
A Hat Full of Sky by Sir Terry Pratchett
What are you reading now?
Brother Cadfael’s Penance by Ellis Peters
What’s your next book project?
I’m in the process of writing a story set in the same world as the other Black River Chronicles but slighly off to one side. Ratatatat is the tale of a con-man who recruits four street kids to help him with a cunning deception that will take them to the heart of the city’s rich and powerful, with the intention of stealing a fortune once they’re there. At first, they pull it off beautiful and then it starts to fall apart. The final question is really ‘will they get caught before they destroy themselves?’ ..oh, and will anyone actually make any money after all? This book is currently listed on the SOOP.com publishing site, accruing votes to win a publishing contract through SOOP.