I like to listen to music that energises me when I write. A current favourite is the Scissor Sisters, and I also love The Script.
Ideas come to me when I’m least expecting it – when I’m out, when I’m in the bath, when I’m half asleep… I suddenly think of a ‘what if?’ scenario, or I imagine a new character, or think of the answer to a plot glitch. I have learned to have pens around all the time! If I don’t write ideas down at once, I will forget them, and I have been known to scribble them down in lipliner on old receipts.
I have different stages of writing. When I’m first planning a book I have what I think of as the ‘coffee shop’ stage where I go to coffee shops with a notebook and pen and plan my plot. I take weeks planning, because I want to be really sure of my story before I begin writing. Then I start the actual writing, and I have the same routine every day: head to my computer first thing, turn on the music, make a cup of coffee and start. I aim to complete 1,000 words a day. If you do that for enough days, you have a novel!
I love reading in bed, but I tend to fall asleep too soon! The other place is on the window seat in my kitchen. When all the children are in bed it’s very peaceful and mellow there.
I often think I’d like to write a play, because there’s something so magical about seeing people perform in the flesh, and a play can be such an intense, moving experience. I once tried to write a thriller, but it was a disaster. I showed it to an agent who specialises in thrillers and he said, ‘Your plot is fine but your characters are all far too nice. It needs to be dark and gritty.’ I don’t think I can do dark and gritty, so I decided the thriller genre was not for me!
I don’t deliberately use people I know, but of course I am influenced by what is around me, so I’m sure friends and family creep in somehow. And all my heroines definitely have bits of me in them.
I can still remember when I got the idea. I was in a shop and an image came to me of a girl opening her Visa bill in shock and horror. I couldn’t believe that no-one had written about shopping before. I used to be a financial journalist and that’s why I gave Becky that job. The more I wrote the more I enjoyed the character and the story almost told itself.
I always write or plan first thing, as that’s the time my mind is at its freshest. I sometimes write all day or sometimes finish by lunchtime – it depends how it’s going! Then I head home for lunch, play with my children and wait for the bigger ones to come home from school. We’re such a big family that it gets quite chaotic! When the little ones have gone to bed I often do some more work and edit what I wrote earlier on. I find my work gets quite addictive.
I remember reading Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice and also discovering the amazing comedy of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Thank you!! It was fun ‘chatting’!