Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
In South Africa, and I was lucky to live in both Stellenbosch and Cape Town, surely one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It has a mountain running through it, and perches between the mighty waters of two great oceans. On that southern tip of Africa, the landscapes are spectacular and the culture rich, colourful and turbulent. My first novel 'The Wild Heart' was set in the back country of the Cape of Good Hope c. 1800 - and, yes, as far as this story is concerned, the country of my birth influenced me deeply.
When did you first start writing?
I wanted to write all my life, and scribbled and journalled down the years with a few (failed) attempts at getting short story's published. But, in 2008, once my four children had grown up, left home and my brain slowly unscrambled, I started, in earnest, to write full-time. It's my job now.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'm actually what's called a 'hybrid' and must confess that being traditionally published gave me the courage to dip my toe in indie waters. The freedom of indie is what attracts me, and I get the feeling that great stories are being told via this process - stories that would never have seen the light of day otherwise.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The freedom to make up whatever you like! The world doesn't have to be as it is - it can be anything. The joy of writing is in the power and infinity of creativity.
What do your fans mean to you?
Absolutely everything and I wish I could thank each and every one. Every now and again I put a general thank you on Twitter or Facebook but I know these only reach a teeny fraction of my readers. Most of my readers are American, then British. I also have a fair amount of German readers and a smidgeon in Spain and Italy - but, sadly, no Canadians yet!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'm an insomniac, so I've never found it particularly difficult to get out of bed. Oddly, I find it easier to get up in cold weather. I'm a winter person, hugely energized by cool weather, rain, even snow. Yes, crazy, I know! Other motivations to get out of bed - I like to get to the page early, get down those solutions my brain's generated during the night. I tend to 'work' (research, social media, editing) in the morning, and 'write' in the afternoon and evening.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
With family first and foremost, and friends. Also, I love to travel. Italy and France are my favorites. I like to go to one place and stay there for a time, not move on every night or two. In May, I spent ten days in Umbria, pottering around those incredible medieval hilltop towns, absolutely loving every minute. I take a complete break from writing at times like this - I put it right out of my mind. All these activities 'fill the well' so to speak. Of course I read a lot, too. Recently, I got into audiobooks, and I listen to those while I'm doing the housework. Let me confess my house is a lot cleaner than it used to be!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Word of mouth is the biggest source of information on what's good. Otherwise, online, obviously, and mainly through social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, and my big favorite, Pinterest.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Oh. Unfortunately, yes. I was sixteen and I submitted a love story to a local women's magazine. The less said about that the better. I'm still cringing and they - I bet - are still laughing, even though it happened many, many years ago!
What is your writing process?
Writers write, so that's the first thing I do. Get stuff down on the page. I write straight onto a computer or it doesn't feel like I'm working. I'm a world-class procrastinator so, during the making of a book, I make myself write at least 2000 words a day or I know what will happen! I'm more creative in the afternoon and evening than the morning, so I use the morning to research and edit. Social media is limited to one hour before 9am or, again, I know what will happen. I'm not much of a planner although I do try to be - somehow, the story always takes off on its own, though, and I end up going with it. I don't believe in writer's block - I mean, heaven forbid 'brain surgeon's block' or 'airline pilot's block' - I just take a break, redirect the story, get back to writing, and worry later.
Describe your desk
It's an old oak roll-top desk about 100 years old, always messy. I love the pigeon holes.
What are you working on next?
A 'how to' guide to inspire aspiring writers, and a historical novel set in the romantic Channel Islands, where I live.
Who are your favorite authors?
I adore the late Pat Conroy, and have signed first editions of some of his books. Anne Rivers Siddons is another favourite, along with Rosamunde Pilcher, Joanna Trollope, Kate Atkinson, Lee Child and Jojo Moyes.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
One of the very first books I read was 'The Armourer's House' by Rosemary Sutcliff. I remember wishing I could write a book like that!
How do you approach cover design?
I get it done by a professional. For me, there's no point messing about. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination.
What's your latest book about?
'The Untouchable' is a high octane contemporary romance about creative, introverted English rose, Rosy, and charismatic Italian motorcycle racing champion, Marco. They end up as neighbours with disastrous results. Sparks fly in all the wrong directions, diverting them from the reality that they're actually falling madly in love...
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