Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m someone who spent a long time dreaming about becoming a writer and making many false starts, always thinking it would happen ‘one day’ but that ‘one day’ kept moving further and further into the future. Then, in 2015, something finally kicked in, and I just went for it and didn’t look back! I have written two big books now and am powering through my third, hoping to release two books in 2018.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is ‘The Burning Sea’. It is the second book in my Viking-esque fantasy series, The Furyck Saga. It’s inspired by my love of history, particularly the Viking and Anglo Saxon periods. Deciding I couldn’t quite fit my ideas into a historical setting, I decided to create my own world, and it’s proving to be a lot of fun as the goal posts are mine to move as and when I choose!
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I like to write with headphones on, playing music that I’ve curated to fit certain moods. I have battle playlists, mystical playlists, and romantic playlists. Having a soundtrack playing in the background can really inspire my writing and spur me on through exciting scenes. Other times I simply listen to nature sounds like ‘thunderstorm at sea’, or ‘campfire and birds’. Anything to help put me in my story and take me out of my suburban neighbourhood!
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Jane Austen was the first author I loved. I’m a fan of her clever wit, seamless storytelling, and carefully entwined romances. They always hooked me! I love C.J. Sansom, who writes a wonderful series set in Tudor times, but then just as easily entertains me with his books set in World War II or the Spanish Civil War. I’m constantly amazed by the talent of Patrick O’Brian, who wrote his legendary nautical series as though he was actually living in the early 19th century. Same goes for Robert Low, who does Viking-speak like no one else I have read, and then can easily switch to 14th century Scottish. And J.K. Rowling created the most endearing and magical world, where you grew to know her characters so intimately that it felt like saying goodbye to old friends when it was over.
What are you working on now?
I am knee deep in the third book of The Furyck Saga. I’m planning to launch it in mid-2018. I have a general idea of how things might go overall, but I don’t write with an outline, so I often find myself crying out ‘plot change’, and veering off in a completely new direction. It definitely keeps me on my toes and makes me excited to get in front of my computer every day!
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
The two methods of advertising I’ve had the most success with so far are Facebook and AMS ads (Amazon). My husband is my marketing guy, and he spends his time tweaking and changing to find that sweet spot. So far we have found that it’s all about trying to narrow down the right audience, which can be really challenging.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Simply to start and keep going! I made so many attempts over the years but gave up one or two chapters in because of a lack of time or a lack of discipline to keep that regular writing habit up. But if you commit to writing two pages a day, or even just one, and then you monitor that progress, by the end of a month, you will start feeling spurred on. In the beginning, it felt torturous, like exercising when you were seriously unfit, but now, I can turn out over 30 pages a day if I need to, to meet my weekly target.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I read an interview with James Patterson a few years ago, who said that he wrote his first book at 5:30am every morning, while working a regular job. He just made sure that every day he would commit to writing in that timeslot. And over time, that small commitment every day added up to a book. I think we all believe we are too busy, and we have too much going on in our lives, but you can fit a book in there too. I had three kids, a job, and was setting up another business at the time that I eventually wrote my first book. It’s a mental switch when you realise that you can fit it in. So, don’t wait! Set aside writing time each day and commit to it.
What are you reading now?
I have three books on the go. Two I have read before, ‘The Book of English Magic’ by Philip Carr-Gomm & Richard Heygate and ‘The Real Middle Earth’ by Brian Bates. I am digging into them again for research and ideas for the book I’m currently writing. And for fun, I’m reading ‘Warriors of the Storm’ by Bernard Cornwell, who writes one of my favourite series, which has been made into an equally enjoyable tv show ‘The Last Kingdom’.
What’s next for you as a writer?
More of the same! I’m locked into doing at least two more books in my Furyck Saga series. I have a feeling I’ll have more to go after I finish those, but if not it will be a toss-up as to what comes next. I have been creating stories and ideas for books, tv shows, and movies since I was around 10-years-old, so I have a long list of possibilities lined up and ready to go!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
The next Diana Gabaldon book, ‘Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone’, as I have been reading her Jamie and Claire series for 26 years now and I’m still keen to know what happens next! Her books are very long and detailed, so it would keep me entertained for ages. I would bring ‘War & Peace’, because I have had a bookmark in the same place for probably 15 years now, and although I have attempted to get through it a few times, I can never push myself to finish it. Being stranded on a desert island might force me to get on with it! And perhaps most importantly, I’d pack Bear Grylls, ‘How to Stay Alive’. Self-explanatory!
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