Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
I was born in Durham City in 1962. After moving to the Scottish Borders in 1998 I rekindled my love of art, becoming an artist, tutor and illustrator, before going on to study with the Open University as a mature student. Here, I gained a first class honours degree in the Humanities, with Literature and Art History, before going on to do a diploma in creative writing . After that, came the decision to write for ‘real’ as I found I loved immersing myself in long term projects and relished the use of my imagination and life experiences within writing.
I spend my time writing, blogging, painting and volunteering in social care. And compulsive passions to fit around this are gardening, reading, meeting a friend for a coffee, and hiking around the fields close to where I live, while listening to my MP3 player.
Tell us about your books.
On Turtle Beach is my debut novel, and it was inspired by my interest in human nature and family relationships, and by my love of the natural world, where the novel’s setting of Dalyan in Turkey became a special place in my heart.
Having being very much bitten by the writing bug I’m currently working on two more novels. One is another women’s fiction story, set in the retail world of the 1990s, the other is a general fiction novel on mid-life changes. I also would like to write a memoir about midlife change for creative people.
How did you go about getting published?
I gave myself a year to try and get an agent or mainstream publisher to take me on – I wanted to go through the process and learn to take rejection, like all the other writers out there, feeling in a constructive way that it functions as a rite of passage for any writer. I was also very aware that if I was successful I would be relinquishing control of many factors linked to my book to someone else and I was nervous about the prospect, for example my being an artist/illustrator meant I already had my own ideas on cover design. This made self-publishing something I was happy to embrace, rather than seeing it as an inferior option. I’m very happy On Turtle Beach took this road and I’ve derived much pleasure from this, but that doesn’t mean I will forego the proposition of the traditional route for other books I write. I guess it depends on the book itself and what it means to me.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
I love to write in my bedroom, shut away in a relaxing place. I have a writing desk by a window and plenty of shelving above and around for files and books. My laptop here is only used for writing and research, nothing else – this is very important to me, keeping the space special just for me and my writing. Downstairs is the main PC for outside communication and social media.
I find the afternoons best for writing sessions, but usually this is doing mundane tasks, and after getting out for some exercise – then I feel I’ve earned the ‘me and my writing’ time!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
I volunteer in social care to keep my life in a nice balance between inner and outer worlds. Helping others is truly rewarding and most importantly helps me maintain perspective on life in general. Me and my hubby have a little grey rescue cat called Sasha who has a fine life with us and lots of garden and fields to explore here. I love painting, gardening, reading and crafts when I have the time, and getting out into the fields is a must for me. Oh, and talking to friends in coffee shops is absolutely vital!
Any advice for authors about book covers?
Keep them simple and graphic, with a good tonal range, for viewing in black and white on kindles and as thumbnails. Less is more for this. Colour is so important to attract the eye and convey a mood – you could look up colour symbolism, it’s so interesting and might help – just think of all that red and black used for thrillers and horrors. If you want to design your own there are many picture libraries where you can access copyright free pictures for use in digital imaging. One example I can give is pixabay.com And enjoy the design process, trying different fonts.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
Twitter is great for marketing, better than facebook, but connect with other writers on facebook groups for mutual support and marketing ideas. I have to say I find marketing tough, but I just keep plugging away regularly, establishing a presence out there. A writer’s blog is a good way of connecting with like-minded creative people and can be a pleasure to do. I enjoy writing mine, but also keep it simple as best I can, not too many side bar widgets.
What’s your favorite book?
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. A great read and a rich experience for studying more in depth aspects.
What are you reading now?
Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room Of One’s Own’
What’s your next book project?
One is another women’s fiction story, set in the retail world of the 1990s, about a dark embittered woman with a past, the other is a general fiction novel on mid-life changes with three main protagonists, whose lives collide.