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Storytelling, for me, has always been about two things: exploration – of character, of interactions, of places and of cultures – and escapism, the opportunity to step away from the everyday. In that respect, writing seemed to evolve for me as a natural extension of reading. I knew how a really good story made me think and feel, and characters and settings which stayed with me long after I’d finished their book seemed to demand I extend their story. I can’t help suspecting that a lot of writers secretly start out as fan-fictionists! The shift towards creating my own characters and settings was nudged on its way at least partly by the fact that I’ve always been an inveterate daydreamer and, especially as a child and teenager, would spend the times when I couldn’t get away with reading, making up stories in my head instead!
As others have said before me, stories are an integral part of what makes us what – and who – we are, and these days writing has evolved to be a significant part of who I am; an extra lens to see the world through, if you will. I can be inspired by anything from everyday events through to bits of history, music, art, computer games and, of course, the works of other authors.The books I love best are the ones that I can’t put down, with cliff-hangers, unexpected twists and turns, races against time, elements of mystery and so on. The quickest way for an author to draw me in is to present well-realised characters – irascible or angelic; this is much less relevant than how vividly they leap off the page.
The challenge of creating personalities and landscapes as striking as those of the writers I admire remains as tantalising as ever – a quest unlikely to end any time soon.