Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Battersea, London until the age of six and then moved to a suburb of greater London, Sutton. I can remember seeing bomb sites around Battersea, and I saw and experienced a lot of poverty. I can remember a lot of the families on our estate took the opportunity to emigrate to Australia; about six kids from my year disappeared there. We had the chance too, but for some reason my father thought better of it. I think, in hindsight, we would have had a better childhood if we had emigrated.
When did you first start writing?
Always! I can remember reading from a very young age and I had a photographic memory at the time. Sadly this is not the case now! Then we used to make up poems about everyday things and my dad would encourage it, writing little poems back. At the age of 11 I was already keeping a diary, which I do to this day.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm currently writing 'The Mystery on the Miniature Railway', it's just over the halfway stage for a novel at 26,000 words. I have a holiday home at present in Greatstone, New Romney, which is served by a delightful miniature railway which travels all the way from Hythe to Dungeness. I've become a bit of a trainspotter as not only do I use the railway a lot as I don't drive, but also I can sit on my balcony and watch as the trains pull into the station and can smell the smoke as they go past. Not only that, they blow their whistles as they go past every hour or so. When I'm there I can't forget that I've got a story to write!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Wow, what a question and what a journey it's been! I suppose the mountain of rejection letters was the main reason. Nobody was going to give me a chance. When I first put "The Stolen Christmas" on Kindle in February 2011 I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't even understand about the free giveaways I could have undertaken. All I knew was that here was an opportunity to do something with my book, and I'd already been scammed by a so-called self-publishing company that was in fact selling the books and not giving me any of the royalties. What a job it was to stop them, in fact I'm not even sure I have now.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
"Success" is a BIG word. I wouldn't say I've been a success. I would say that I am trying new options to get my book across as wide an audience as possible. So I don't necessarily want to give away any freebies, but will try different promotions which Smashwords will allow me to do.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I'm a quiet person, really, quite painfully shy in some company. I'm not a great communicator in person, in fact you would probably think I was a bit dim. But on paper I can wax lyrical on things that I am interested in. It certainly is an outlet for my emotions, which is a healthy thing to do.
What are you working on next?
After I've finished "The Mystery on the Miniature Railway" I'm going to have to start my novel for 2014. It's going to be a sequel to The Silver Cross (Psychic Detective Mysteries #1) and will follow on about six months after the end of the first book. I won't divulge the title as yet - though I do have one, honest (!) - but it will have (Psychic Detective Mysteries #2) after the title, of course. For anyone who has read The Silver Cross, they will know it is partly about twins John and William. One survived the war and one didn't. William's Great Grandaughter, Lacy, goes to Canada to see her newly discovered relatives, and he helps her to solve a mystery that still haunts them all, of a missing girl.
What do your fans mean to you?
I was going to skip this question but hey, if I've got any fans out there, please let me know!
Who are your favorite authors?
I have to say Charles Dickens is my number one. I can remember Dad reading me bits and pieces from his works, and his books were always to be found around the house. My favourite poem is "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" which I would strongly recommend everyone to read. Another of my Dad's favourites. As you can tell, Dad was a huge influence on me.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The uncomfortable mattress! It's a long story and one I won't bore you with, but I'm currently sleeping on the floor on a very thin and uncomfortable mattress.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
At the moment I'm audio typing at home. It's a bit of a revelation, working from home instead of trekking up to London every day. Long may it continue!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was a horror story at school. The teacher said she loved it but could I think of a different ending, and I said no.
What is your writing process?
I love writing in the morning. My writing is different in the afternoon and evening. In the morning it is bright, breezy and light, and gets progressively darker and more serious as the day wears on. Pretty much like the author!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I loved The Secret Garden and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - who didn't?
How do you approach cover design?
Badly! I do my own covers or, on the last one, a student helped me. But I would say I would sell a lot more books with better covers, definitely!
What do you read for pleasure?
This is awful to admit but I read for just five minutes or so each day before I fall to sleep. It can be anything, so it's no reflection on the author. It took me nearly a year to read Samuel Pepys Diaries but I'm so glad I achieved this, it was hard going.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have only a basic Kindle at present so that has to be the one for me.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
So far, publicising freebie giveaways on free book promotion sites. I hit 600 downloads on one lucky day, but I haven't managed to replicate this.
Describe your desk
I'm looking at it now and it is Mum's dining table. There's a fruit bowl and table mats at one end, a caculator, digital camera and headphones in the middle and a huge pile of bills! How does Mum put up with me?
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
At the moment I'm not quite an expert on Kindle. So I only use it rarely, sometimes to download books from my fellow authors at my writing group, or to view my own work. If something else grabs me, I'm ashamed to admit that it is usually free.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.