I’ve read many author interviews where the reply to this one is flippant, which always makes me laugh. In all seriousness, my novels reflect relationships – mother/daughter – which I have direct experience of so to an extent I am writing from life. I combine that with my writing from my favourite genre. It is a case of asking how this relationship would work if one was magical and the other horrified by that. I do a lot of “what if” planning when working out my stories. I outline almost all I write now. I have since found it helpful to stop me going off at a tangent. (Tangents are all very well if you can use them and they strengthen the story but I was finding this wasn’t the case).
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
No. I’m not convinced it exists either. I accept there are days when the words won’t flow so easily but that only proves writers are humans, we’re not machines, and on the plus side you will get days when the work does flow. I think you need to persist. I've also found if I'm finding working on a novel difficult, my work on a short story flows. So I would suggest get in to the habit of writing anything when you feel "stuck". Brainstorm ideas. Describe what you see. What you would like your writing to be. Writing anything helps fire your brain up ready for work - or so I've found.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I always outline now. I find them helpful for planning my work, being able to work out where to insert new ideas (and to test if they will fit in). I don’t plan out everything but work out the rough structure of whatever I’m working on. I will add in phrases, sentences that strike me. I’ve even once prepared a brief outline for a piece of flash fiction! That probably makes me a sad muppet.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I love the classic fairy tales, P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Terry Pratchett. I “got” Austen’s wonderful use of irony thanks to a great English teacher (Miss Mackenzie). Wodehouse’s use of language is sublime, Pratchett is so funny and proves a series can work and Dickens came up with so many great stories. I also liked Enid Blyton, especially her Famous Five series. I admire Agatha Christie too. It’s been said she writes puzzles but there are ethical dilemmas too – Murder on the Orient Express probably being the best example of this.