Sep 8, 2016

Interview

When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
Before I even realised that being a writer could be a job!
Is being an Author all you dreamed of, or did it just happen?
I’ve always written. I remember spending hours in my bedroom when I was young, scribbling in notebooks, making up stories. I started submitting stories to literary journals when my dad bought me a subscription to a writing magazine.

What was the very first thing you ever wrote?
The first complete story I wrote was about a golden horse that could fly, when I was about seven or eight – sadly long-gone.
The first short story I wrote to submit was called The Walking Dead (and appears in my short story collection That Sadie Thing). It’s about a girl who runs away from home. I’ve still got the journal it was originally published in.

What was the inspiration for your book?
The collection was originally written as a competition entry. I decided to enter quite close to the closing date, so I basically sat down for a month and splurged every opening sentence, every story I could think of into a beautiful notebook. Some of the stories are very much as they were initially written, others went through quite a thorough revision, and others still got crossed out. It was liberating, because I was just able to write down everything that was on my mind without thinking about the story I was going to tell.

Who is your literary hero?
I adore Margaret Atwood. I love how she can move so easily between genres and write with such compassion for her characters. She’s the complete opposite of how I write – her ideas and words tumble over each other with beautiful description, while I’m a much tighter, concise writer.

How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
There’s always a little bit of me in my characters, but in my new collection about a third of them have come directly from my life and things I’ve experienced. Ode to River is about a poster I used to have on my wall, and Growing Apart recounts the thoughts I was having while watching a couple eating in a cafĂ©.

Describe your main character in six words.
As it’s a short story collection, there are many characters, so: Broken people searching for happiness/validation .

Describe the world you’ve created in six words.
The world around us, strikingly unleashed.

What story was your favorite to write?
I loved writing Watching the Storms Roll In – I had no idea where the story was going when I started, but it just flowed. I can’t say much about it because it gives too much away. Hopefully that flow transfers onto the reader as well.

What story was the hardest for you to write?
Motherhood was the hardest, about a premature baby and her subsequent health issues. I was lucky enough to have had two healthy babies, but I knew I needed to be so careful and sympathetic, and get the feelings of a parent dealing with a poorly baby just right.

What are you working on now?
I’m trying to forget I have a short novel on submission by freshening up some short stories to enter into some competitions next month. And I’m playing with some ideas for another novel, but they’re very vague at the moment.

Goals? Accomplishments? Improvements?
At the beginning of the year I won 3rd Place in the Costa Short Story Award with Watching the Storms Roll In (included in the collection). It’s an award affiliated to the Costa Book Awards, so I was at this year’s ceremony in London in January, which was very surreal.
My next goal is to publish a full-length novel. I naturally prefer shorter stories, so a novel is a huge challenge. I’ve written a couple, so watch this space!

Are there any authors or books you recommend?
I’m currently reading The Many by Wyl Menmuir, longlisted for the Man Booker Award – so far, so brilliant!

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not writing?
I’m pretty boring when I’m not writing. I like to workout at the gym (I’m also a gym instructor), walk my dog, play board games with my kids, and veg out with cheesy films starring Hugh Grant or David Tennant.