Tell me about you, as an artist. How do you define art? What art do you make?
I’m a writer, I make stories. Mostly for novels but also for TV and radio.
Your 25th novel, Fear of Falling was released at the end of last year. What were your inspirations for this particular novel?
I wanted to capture the intensity of a lifelong female friendship but also explore the challenges for families involved in modern day adoptions. Unlike the 50s/60s when I was adopted because my birth-mother was unmarried most children now are removed from their first families after a traumatic early life and there isn’t anything like enough support for them and their new parents.
You were a writer at Commonword for many years and we published your first novel, Looking for Trouble. What is your best memory from this time and what did you learn about yourself as a writer during those years?
It has to be the book launch for Looking For Trouble. I was beyond elated. Sharing that with family and friends and fellow writers was so special. Holding the book in my hands with my name on the cover… Magic. Going to Commonword encouraged me into a discipline of writing, carving out time to make it happen. And helped me find my voice.
You have recently won the WGGB Best Radio Drama Award 2019 for your co-written drama, Stone. What inspired this drama and how did you find the experience of co-writing? Do you have any tips for writers considering venturing into writing for radio?
Stone has been going for a few series now (created by Danny Brocklehurst) and often Stone is faced with difficult choices in his work – and home life. This series was a long-form ten-parter, five writers each did two episodes. We all came together for devising and storylining meetings at the start to create the characters and story. I enjoy working with other writers, bouncing ideas around and inspiring each other – it’s so different from the solitary work of novel writing. My tips would be to listen to lots of radio drama and to develop your ear for dialogue.
You’ll be making a few appearances at literary events in celebration of International Women’s Month. What do you enjoy most about speaking at literary events, particularly in your home city?
Meeting readers and enthusing about books is a real pleasure. And if it’s on home ground then there’s always interesting chat about how I represent the city in my work.
What advice would you give to aspiring novelists when it comes to approaching publishers and venues with their work?
For publishers try and find an agent to represent you. Make your work as good as possible. Don’t give up. Rejections come with the territory and it’s always a precarious business but keep writing, send stuff out and then get on with something new. Enter competitions.
What does the future hold for you in your writing career?
You never know but hopefully I’ll continue to write and to find a platform for my work. It’s all I want to do.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Sum up your experience thus far in one word