I try to write most days, including the weekends, and share a virtual office with author pal, Clare Marchant. This makes us both accountable and ensures we check in and discuss our targets for the day. We joke about our long commute, and the fictional Margaret from accounts, who is always stealing the virtual biscuits, and are there for each other when we encounter the daily highs and lows of being an author. During lockdown, it often appeared that we were sharing the same bed, which made us giggle.
I try to write from about 8.30 until 4, but this is around part time work and caring for my elderly mum. I have my own desk but I can write anywhere, wearing anything (referencing my lockdown pyjamas), and am usually okay with background noise – unless I’m editing. Sometimes, I switch rooms or even go over to a friend for the day. In the good weather, I like to write in the garden, surrounded by my four curious cats.
I’m not a snacker, or a huge chocolate fan (gasp), but I often eat my lunch at my desk. I only crave sweet things when I’m stressed or overtired, so if my husband finds me nibbling on a Cadburys, he knows to steer well clear!
2. What did you enjoy most about writing Secrets of Hawthorne Place?
Without a doubt, it was the research for the historical thread. I visited William Morris’s house, Kelmscott Manor (before the pandemic) and read up a lot about architecture. In fact, I enjoyed writing the historical thread so much that all my current projects are historical. Life was more gently-paced in the past, and I love immersing myself in a time gone by. However, I get frustrated when funny one-liners I want to write don’t translate into a bygone era. An Edwardian lady can’t really shout “Doh!” at a bemused Edwardian gentleman.
3. Do you have any daily / weekly relaxation routines?
Depends on my stress levels. Daily stresses are solved by diving into a good book, or having a cheeky glass of wine in the evening. If I’m doing a lot of writing, I like to get outside for a change of scene and some fresh air. Bigger stresses are eased by romcom binge-watching – like, a four films on a row kinda binge. I did yoga once a week pre-pandemic, but the local class hasn’t started up again yet. Also, my dance class is a great way for me to chill. We’re a group that has been together for over a decade, and however grumpy I am when I turn up (and I have actually been known to stamp my foot) I always leave full of giggles and floating on air.
4. If you could be a cartoon character, who would you be?
Ooo, this was a tough one, but probably Dory from Finding Nemo. I get very excitably quite quickly, am highly emotional and very bouncy. I definitely have a short attention span, and am useless at retaining information. Often, I have to re-research things for my book, forgetting that I’ve already done it. I’m also very enthusiastic about life generally. When I asked one of my sons if he thought I was like Dory, he said it was a good shout.
However… I once dressed up as a fairy for a world record attempt to gather the most fairies in one place (long story) and my husband said I looked like Mavis Cruet from Willo The Wisp (hands up if you’re old enough to remember that bit of Kenneth Williams TV magic). Needless to say, I was not amused!
5. What does love mean to you?
Love is a two-way street. It is putting someone else before yourself, not judging their mistakes, and doing things to make them happy – even if you don’t like their crochet/train spotting/PS4 addiction! It’s about cheering their successes and hugging them tightly through their darkest hours. Love also means being so comfortable with someone, you don’t have to say anything. These all apply to romantic and platonic love, but with romantic love you gets some fabulous tingles every time you look at them, too.