Did you always want to be a writer?
No. I wanted to be a teacher from the age of seven until my very first day in the job and then I changed my mind! I carried on teaching though, for about ten years, in the hope that I would get to like it but I never did so I became a freelance journalist/writer instead.
What made you decide to become a writer?
I didn't really know what to do once I stopped teaching and I wandered around for a bit feeling very lost. Eventually I decided to join an adult education evening class because I was so bored. I could have chosen to do bee-keeping or ballroom dancing but I chose Creative Writing because English was always my best subject at school. I had my first article published a few months later and that was the start of my writing career.
Where do you get your ideas from?
The trick with ideas, which can come from absolutely anyone or anywhere, is to catch them as soon as you get them. If you take even a second to wonder whether something is a good idea or not, the idea takes offence and disappears, never to be heard of again.
What are you writing at the moment?
I have a really interesting project on the go which is a proposed non-fiction book called My Dear Elsie. It's based on a collection of letters I inherited from my maternal grandmother that were written to her by a close friend called Ethel North. Ethel was lady's maid to Lady Winifred Burghclere, sister of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon who along with Howard Carter, discovered Tutankhamun's tomb. Fans of the popular UK TV series Downton Abbey will know that the Carnarvon family were the real-life inspiration for the fictional Crawley family. You can find out more about the project at www.ladyburghclereandethel.com
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I don't seem to have much spare time at the moment but when I do, I like to watch or listen to sport especially football, cricket, snooker, tennis and cycling. I also love watching films. And I'm trying to research my family history which is very interesting but not always enjoyable as it can make me very emotional.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Don't give up the day job! (Unless you are JK Rowling.) Read lots and lots of stuff, especially stuff about writing. Write whenever you can, even if you don't feel like doing it or you think what you are writing is rubbish. Join a class or a writing group but don't stay in it forever. Enter lots of writing competitions so you get used to working to a deadline. Have fun!