When I was a child, I wanted to be a witch. My first foray into writing was a series of nasty spells full of rats’ tails and bats’ wings. Then, when I turned thirteen, I began keeping a lurid diary, full of adoration or loathing, depending on who I was writing about. I used my later diaries for the Diving In trilogy.
I never thought ‘I want to be a writer’, but I loved books and writing. At school, I was rubbish at just about everything but English, so I went on to Kent University where I did two degrees in English and American Literature. At Kent, I fell dramatically in love with the man I'm still married to. We had loads of fights and adventures, but we kept coming back together. He's still the person I most want to spend time with. Awww!
My first proper job was in a publishing house, Time Life Books, as a copy-editor. I felt very glamorous. I used to go to the huge YMCA on Tottenham Court Road at lunchtime and do aerobics classes (very big in the 1980s and yes - I wore legwarmers). Then I'd fall asleep over my desk in the afternoon.
When my two kids came along, I set up as a freelance copy-editor and worked from home. By chance I got given some teenage books to edit, and I hated the way they treated sexual relationships: they were either full of gloom and doom, or were gushy, unrealistic candyfloss. So I got bitten by the ‘I can do better than this’ bug, and started writing. I remember the first day I started to write - it took me over. I forgot to eat (unthinkable for me) and I nearly forgot to collect the kids from school. About a year after that, Diving In was accepted for publication.
When I ran out of material from my diaries and memories, I realized my daughter and son were teenagers, and started eavesdropping on them and their friends. They were extremely tolerant about this although they did sometimes demand money from me.
Big changes have been afoot recently. My kids have left home - really left home, not just gap-year-travelling/university left home, and my old man is doing the sort of work that means he can work from home a lot of the time. So we've sold up and moved into the wilds of the country and so far I am absolutely loving it. The space, the silence, the woods, seeing the stars and bats at night and hearing the owls, the walks, the great food in the local pubs - everything! I'd started to bring nature into my books - it all started with Crow Girl - and then Possessing Rayne and Fire & Rayne followed. So the move is very much linked to and helping my writing. I think the sheer beauty and sensual power of nature is something a lot of kids are cut off from today.
I still love London though - the plan is to come up every couple of weeks, catch up with all my old mates, and possibly do something seriously cultured like go to the theatre. And I want to travel a bit more, too - offsetting my increased carbon footprint with an enormous compost heap.
I love long conversations, long walks, reading, gardening and white wine (in moderation of course) and I’m the first to admit I have the life of Reilly (who apparently had a pretty cushy life). I start the day with a walk with my dog, when I think about what’s going to happen next in the book I’m writing. Then I have a huge breakfast, and get down to work. I write on (or if it’s cold, in) the spare bed with a laptop, my dog at the bottom of the bed. If it’s sunny, I write in the garden, on a sun-lounger. Tough, ay? I also have this theory that you can’t be truly creative for more than about three or four hours a day, so in the mid afternoon, I knock off, and do my emails and stuff. Told you it was cushy.