Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m British but I live in Portugal. Rising Tide is my third published novel but is the only one actually set in Portugal – in the Alentejo to be exact. My first novel, Perfect Score, is an m/m suspense set in 1960s US (a country I love) when being gay wasn’t at all easy. My second novel is called Hewhay Hall and is set in the UK (where I was born). It’s a dark fantasy novel and it won the 2013 EPIC ebook award for Horror.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Rising Tide is set in the Alentejo region in Portugal – an area that not many tourists know about. It’s the flat area of an otherwise mountainous country but has the most varied climate – baking plains in summer with fields full of sunflowers, temperate in spring when the fields are full of wild flowers and cool in winter but not cold enough to put a coat on.
Injustice is an important theme in all my books and it’s rife in Rising Tide where the under-dogs have to win through. The glory of the sea is also highlighted in all its moods. I adore the sea but have a great respect for it.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I’m a terrible pantser, which means I wing it as I go along. When I start out I know the beginning and the end, but the middle bit gets fleshed out as I go along. My first novel, Perfect Score, has seventeen different versions!
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I’m such a prolific reader – I read two or three books a week. They say that if you want to be a writer, you have to read and I agree with that. But if I’m influenced by any of those I read, I’m not aware of it. I’m constantly on the look-out for the book I just can’t put down, a real page-turner. When I’m lucky enough to find one, I think, “I wish I’d written that” at the end.
What are you working on now?
I’m going to continue in Portugal for my next novel. This time it will be set in the ancient town of Sintra which is just west of beautiful Lisbon (the capital will be featured too). Again, it’ll be a suspense novel with romantic overtones, a little magic and, I hope, a page-turner!
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
To get an article published about your work in a local newspaper or broadcast on the radio is fail-safe. When I have a new novel out I immediately book a blog-tour and send out review requests. My Facebook page seems to attract some readers and I have paid for an ad. on there. I also look for competitions to enter.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Get a professional editor to review your manuscript. I did that with Perfect Score. You do have to pay for it (I used Cornerstones in London) but the advice I received from them was invaluable – they can spot where the plot’s not working or if the pace has dropped. I don’t think I’d have been published without them.
Do not just rely on your friends and family’s criticisms – they’re bound to say it’s the best thing they’ve ever read, dear.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Read a lot and getting people who don’t know me to read the manuscript (as mentioned above). I have two or three terrific beta readers who read as the book develops and we have brain storming sessions. Of course, I do the same for them as well. It’s all give and take in this business.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading “Wildwood – a journey through trees” at the moment because my next novel will be set in Sintra forest.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’d love to be noticed by one of the larger publishers. That’s a dream, I think, because there is so much good competition out there.
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?
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
All of Terry Pratchett’s books.
They should keep me busy for quite some time. On the other hand I might be so absorbed that I’ll miss any passing ships