Life. It's precious. I have this drive to succeed that stems from my determination to recover from my head injury. My motivation comes from those around me who have given me so much love and support.
When you have almost lost it all, it makes you appreciate everything!
Who are your favorite authors?
If we're talking about the classics Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. I love their scope - the ability to be serious but also an incredible sense of humour that has lasted the test of time, such talent. As a woman I have to acknowledge the ground-breaking work of the great Jane Austin. Her writing, for the era in which she lived, was a brave move and she just has to be applauded for stepping outside the box!
Regarding crime thrillers, the list is extensive: Ian Rankin, Patricia Cornwall, Kathy Reichs, James Patterson, John Grisham to name just a few.
More recent discoveries include Matt Nagin who has re-connected me to my love of poetry and David P Perlmutter who's incredible true story has touched so many people.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Traditionally, I would search for a book in my favourite genre (crime thrillers). The cover had to entice me before I'd think about reading the synopsis - if it was part of a series then I felt more invested.
These days I follow an author on Twitter, get to know them a little and download their book. If I like it enough I always buy a hard copy too.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Family is so important to me, so making sure I spend time with everyone is vital - I include my close friends when I talk about family. I also love walking and visiting my favourite haunts and I do this as often as possible (in all honesty I find these trips totally inspiring and they usually end up in me returning to my desk with fresh ideas for my work).
I love restoring old furniture, my home is full of it. Just one of the quirky things I do when I have a spare hour or two.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Now, that's a very long time ago!
I do remember the first time my storytelling was taken seriously and the story that I'd written on that occasion. My English teacher asked me to stay behind after class, she took me to one side and waved my work in front of me "Donna, you need to consider writing as a career, this is seriously good." It was the end of the day and I'd just missed the bus home! Did fourteen year old me appreciate her comments at the time? Of course not. I had to run home because my parents were not there and I had five horses to exercise on my own. My missing the bus had consequences - I had a life that not many others understood.
My teacher did earn my respect though and I worked extremely hard for her and am so glad I did!
What is your writing process?
My first draft is a series of notes - I need to get my ideas down fast so I don't forget them. (As a result of my head injury I have short-term memory issues, they are slowly resolving now, but I don't want to take any chances)! This gets printed off and is a completely separate document.
The second draft is my main working copy of my manuscript and I format this how it will be presented to my editor. As each draft is completed It gets printed, edited by hand and so the process continues until I feel it's ready for someone else to read.
It's a massive step for me to let go and pass my manuscript over to my editor though - I call it editing OCD!
How do you approach cover design?
That's simple. SpiffingCovers designed my cover and I would not hesitate in returning to them or recommending them to others. They asked me a series of questions about the content of my novel and came up with my fantastic cover - amazingly creative!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Butterflies Lost Within The Crooked Moonlight by Matt Nagin - Matt's poetry is so varied - I especially like the way he talks so openly about pain and, although we experience pain because of different causes, I can completely resonate with his words. Matt also discusses social issues, language and various other subjects that interest me. It's a gem of a book written by a very talented guy. Why does this book make the top of my list? That's simple: I find Matt's words inspiring.
Wrong Place Wrong Time by David P Perlmutter - David's story is like an off-the-hip documentary in words. He takes you on a journey that has your heart racing and your eyes wide open - every parent's worse nightmare! David tells this true story in a way that has you submerged - you are there with him every step of the way, feeling the heat, the filth, the hunger, the fear.
Along Came A Spider by James Patterson - One of my all-time favourite psychological thrillers. It's a book I've read, probably six or more times over the years. And, of course, it's backed up by the amazing Morgan Freeman who plays Alex Cross in the film of the same name - doesn't get much better than that!
A Time to Kill by John Grisham - Another one of my all-time favourites. Again, I've read it so many times over the years. I love a book that's backed by film and Samuel L Jackson brings Carl, the grieving father, to life extremely well.
The Devil's Advocate by Andrew Neiderman - Let's get something a bit different in here. This is a great play (that also made a great film)! It gets your mind thinking outside the box and in light of newsworthy events highlights sexual exploitation.
Only five for a live-long love of reading!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Definitely my phone - It's always with me. That way, whatever I'm reading is in my bag and I can pick it up whenever I have a spare moment. Spare moments are a rare commodity these days so I need to make the most of them.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Social media has been phenomenal. It's certainly allowed me to get my name out there and get me noticed and recognised as an author.
Describe your desk
Absolutely love my desk. I spend so much time sitting at it, so I think its important!
It's a 1930's desk that I've restored, shabby chic style in white. When it's all closed up it looks like a three drawer chest. The top 'drawer' opens out into the desk part, the interior of which is dusky pink. At the back there are compartments where I store an array of stuff that, at times, could be slightly neater! My laptop fits perfectly and, quite often, my cat squeezes herself behind it.
The two draws are wide and deep and I can get so much inside them! On the top I have an array of lights, fragranced candles and things I find inspirational. It is my creative zone and the one place in my home that no one else uses.
What's the story behind your latest book?
BROKEN is my debut novel. The idea came to me while I was travelling into London by train back in 2007. Over the years I've written when I've found the time. The rest of the story might not be quite what people imagine.
Since a serious head injury in 2014 I've needed a career change and in 2016 my dear friend, Tracey, encouraged me to finish BROKEN, which is dedicated to her. Tracey lost her life to cancer just two weeks after our conversation.
My writing has enabled me to find my place in the world again during my recovery, allowing me to stretch my imagination and gradually extend my ability. It has given me the drive and determination I have needed - a goal to focus on. It's given me something to be proud of.
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