1) Tell us a bit about yourself and where
you live and work.
I live on a farm in the wilds of
Gloucestershire, near Bristol, England and am surrounded by beautiful
countryside, woodlands and baaing sheep in spring. I love writing, reading,
watching television and films, and swimming, though the sight of me in a
swimming costume is not a pretty sight and when swimming in the sea constantly
fear being harpooned by accident. I love seeing my friends and going to my book
club once a month. These evenings are spent eating cake, drinking coffee and
shrieking with laughter and occasionally discussing the books we’ve read.
2) Describe your journey to becoming an
I was an English
and music teacher before almost losing my sense of humour (and mind) and
deciding I needed to devote herself to the thing my loved most - writing. I
wrote and published a number of children’s musicals while teaching and after
leaving became a full-time television scriptwriter for children, on an award
winning programme, Kideo. Putting
words into the mouths of a donkey called Mr Chinwag was a unique and fun
experience. I then entered a nationwide scriptwriting competition and was
selected to be on the writing team of a popular South African soap, Generations, it was multilingual so often what
I wrote would appear on screen translated into Sotho or Zulu or one of the
other eleven official languages in South Africa-weird. I also worked as an
advertising copywriter, wrote radio ads and jingles, educational textbooks and
readers...anything writing related to keep the wolf from the door. Basically,
I’m constantly writing, books and TV scripts and if not that then plotting,
planning and scheming how to take over the world.
I spent a very
long 20 years writing my first book, which went through numerous drafts and
changes and now is a completely different book from how it started out- thank
goodness. I– self published When Killers Cry, an adult political
thriller set in apartheid South Africa just
to see what would happen. A lot of it comes from my own experience growing up
in those dark days, so it’s very personal for me. It’s available through
Lulu.com and on Kindle. My first love is writing for children though. So I
wrote two children’s fantasy books and am working on an animation script and
other scripts, adapting my books for film. Blue
Dust : Forbidden, the first in the Blue Dust series, will be published in
November by Ghostly Publishing. It’s now out on Kindle. This too is based on my
own experiences as an ‘alien’ and was born out of my struggles of being an
immigrant. The other book, still to be named, will also be published later next
year, which is great as I had a load of complimentary and encouraging
rejections from people who thought it a ‘bit weird’. It’s been a long journey
getting to this point, but worth every minute of aching arms and back and an
ever increasing file of ‘This is great but it’s not for us’-type letters.
3) Who is your ideal reader?
For Blue Dust: Forbidden and the series,
ideally pre-teen and teenage girls, but though the book has romance it’s not
soppy and there is loads of action and adventure, humour too. Boys will also
enjoy it and of course the theme of feeling alien and not fitting in, is
universal so adults who read fantasy will take pleasure in it too I hope. It’s
sort of ‘multi-genre’ and I’m hoping it will appeal to a wide audience.
4) Describe your path to publication. Has
this experience met/exceeded your expectations?
It’s been hard
getting to this point. I broke into television surprisingly easily and was
expecting publishing to be the same, but it’s a whole other beast – everyone
with a computer these days thinks they’re a writer. I’ve had loads of rejection
– am thinking of wallpapering my lounge with all the rejection letters- but
most were complimentary and encouraging and no one actually said ‘your work is
rubbish’. I took that as something positive. Despite being told once that I had
more chance of being eaten by a great white shark while being struck by
lightning, than I did of writing a best seller, I chose to ignore that advice
and with the support of friends and family, soldiered on, wrote constantly and
took advice from wise editors. Being offered a publishing deal was a dream come
true – sounds so cliché, but it was amazing and I’m finding it all fantastic,
though a bit scary. Nothing is ever as you imagine it to be, but being an
actual author with a book deal is everything I hoped and has certainly met my
expectations. Now all I need to do is sell a couple of million copies.
5) How do you promote your work? What
methods have worked best for you?
I’m new at this
all, so am trying to get my head round the whole social media thing. I’m amazed
at how much Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook are increasing interest in the book.
I’ve done a small amount of local press so far, but will step it all up as the
release date approaches. Of course I’m hoping for radio and newspaper
interviews that will spread the news.
6) Who are your favorite authors? What is
on your reading list right now?
I have a very
eclectic taste. I love thrillers – Jo Nesbo, Christina Lackberg, John Grisham,
Dick Francis but also Jane Austen, Dickens, and writers like Kate Atkinson,
Zadie Smith, Alexander McSmith. I’m currently reading The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Maggoch. I’m also reading Un lun
dun by China Mieville and am about to start Jimmy Threepwood and the Veil of
Silence by Rich Pitman, another of the Ghostly Publishing authors. It’s a fine
balance between writing my own stuff and reading the works of other great
7) Describe a typical day in your life.
I get up, check
emails, read the news on the BBC website, Twitter, Facebook stuff, re-read what
I wrote the day before and get stuck in. I try to write every day for as long
as possible – a bad back makes sitting for too long tricky – so I’ll have a
short walk or go for a swim- my latest craze is aqua zumba, which is more like
flapping about in water in time to music and is hilarious, then back to carry
on writing. I often work late into the night as I work in short bursts. I’m finding
the social media taking up a lot of my time, so am having to re-organise my
time. I also take lunch off to watch my 2 favourite Ozzie soaps. I enjoy
watching telly or a film in the evenings. I’ll often get an idea as I drift off
to sleep and will get up to jot it down before trying again. Somehow the
moments before slumber are very creative. I’ve spoken to a number of writers
who experience the same. I tell myself a story as I go to sleep too, usually
what happens in the next chapter or book or series of books. Most of the time
this puts me right to sleep. Hmmm….
8) What projects do you have in the works?
The sequel to Blue
Dust: Forbidden, due to be published next year. I feel a third book in the
series brewing too. I’m also percolating another series, still in the ‘thoughts
in my head’ stage. I also try to work on film (adapting books) and televisions
scripts to give myself a bit of variety. Another book of mine will be published
next year too, but I need to work on a few issues, so am mulling over these at
the same time.
What advice would you offer to
Never give up!
Write as much as you can, get a good editor – never send in the first draft, take
advice from said good editors, don’t expect your family and friends to be much
use in giving an honest opinion on your writing – unless they’re writers too,
Learn how to rewrite, rewrite and rewrite, try not to be too ‘precious’ about
your work. Sometimes you have to delete a sentence or paragraph or even chapter
you love because it doesn’t contribute to the work as a whole. Read a lot, take
time to find your own voice and the genre that suits you best. Never surrender!
I was born and
raised in South Africa where I qualified as a teacher, teaching English and
Music. I wrote five children’s musicals that were published in SA and sold
extensively throughout the country and Africa, and are still being performed
over there. I left teaching to become a full-time television scriptwriter in
1994, working on an award winning South African children’s programme, Kideo. I entered a nationwide
scriptwriting competition and was selected to be on the writing team of Generations, a multi-lingual soap. I
also wrote advertising copy, radio jingles and adverts and then moved into
writing textbooks and readers for illiterate and semi-literate adults. I worked
on CD rom voiceovers for the Independent Electoral Committee before the first
democratic elections. Some of my music was performed to the United Nations
observers and was also recorded and broadcast on South African television. I’ve
also written corporate video scripts and created and directed a children’s
series for Impact media in SA. I emigrated to the UK in 2000 and became a
naturalised citizen in 2005. Since being in the UK I’ve written a number of
animation scripts for Waterston TV (in development) and also wrote an Easter
programme for the Swaziland Communication Department. I’ve completed two
children’s fantasy books and an adult political thriller, and am working on an
animation script. Blue Dust : Forbidden, the first in the Blue Dust series,
will be published in November by Ghostly Publishing. It’s now out on Kindle.