Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
My debut novel *The Second Cup* was published by Creativia in July 2017. It’s about how the lives of four friends unravel when someone they know commits suicide. Although it’s quite a dark topic, the book is (hopefully!) uplifting. Mental health is something that has been a shadow in my life for decades, so it’s a book I felt I *had* to write.
***Only include below if interview is sent out on 15 January 2018***
My novel is discounted to 99¢ today because it’s Blue Monday – said to be the most depressing day of the year. The Christmas festivities are over, but money is still tight from overspending – and it’s a week until pay day. I felt it was important to highlight depression on a day when more people are struggling.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
If I tell you why my book is called *The Second Cup* it will contain a spoiler! So I can’t, sorry. All I can say it that it’s linked to family rituals.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I have ADHD, so I don’t write in the normal way. I use an app called Evernote to capture thoughts and ideas as they ping-pong round my head. Every few weeks I go through them and start to piece together a story from them. They get pasted into a Word document that is split into characters/ideas rather than chapters – that process comes later. I then write around these ideas until I build up sections of copy. As I realise what order these different sections need to take, I start to create chapters. (I’m still quite amazed I managed to write a whole novel!)
What authors, or books have influenced you?
My favourite mental health authors are Patrick McGrath and Nathan Filer. McGrath’s father used to run a mental hospital and Filer worked as a mental health nurse, so their depictions capture the very essence of mental health issues. My favourite authors for capturing fractured family relationships are Maggie O’Farrell and Elizabeth Strout. Both create clever push-pull dynamics between their characters.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my second novel, working title *The Victoria Lie*. It’s in the very early stages and – because of the disjointed way I write – it’s difficult to know how it’s going to turn out. But there’s a complex lie at the centre of it.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I think it’s important to share your voice as an author and explain *why* you write what you do, rather than just shout “read my book!”. My hope is to explain mental health to those who’ve never experienced it as well as making sure those who have experienced it feel less alone. Hopefully, if I share this message, people will want to read my book to understand what I’m trying to say.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
For anyone who finds it difficult to write out plot journeys, character descriptions, chapter structures… I’d say “write anyway”. Just because those processes help the majority of writers, doesn’t mean they help everyone. You only discover *your* way of writing by getting writing!
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
It would be to write freely and just get everything down – the editing process exists for a reason!
What are you reading now?
*The Memory Keeper’s Daughter* by Kim Edwards. It’s about a doctor who delivers his wife’s twins. One of the twins has Down syndrome, so he gives it to one of the nurses to take to an institution – and lets his wife believe the child has died. Powerful stuff.
What’s next for you as a writer?
As well as writing my second novel, I’m trying to become more involved in the ADHD community in order to ensure other sufferers don’t sideline their creativity because they’re expected to fail.
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 Time Traveler’s Wife* by Audrey Niffenegger
*After You’d Gone* by Maggie O’Farrell
*The White Lie* by Andrea Gillies
*Goodnight, Beautiful* by Dorothy Koomson