Here's the dirt you've been waiting for, folks.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What would you like us to know about you?
Hmm...not sure there's anything basic that folks don't already know. I'm female. 32. I like writing and I like reading.

That's about it!


What are you doing now? (Career? Married? Single? Children? Pets?)
The last job I had was temporary and I'm currently, um...unemployed. Which I'm embarrassed to admit.

Not married although I would like to be. I've been single for most of my adult life (bar a few brief flings and affairs) and either I'm horrendously ugly, or very picky.

No children, don't want them. Ever. Never have, never will.

And pets? None. I had a hamster, but he died.. RIP Gort.

When did you first realize you had a talent for writing? When did you start to believe it could be a viable career option?
I'm not sure when I realised I had talent but I can tell you when I realised I didn't have it. After reading back my trunk novel. Unfortunately, I did this not before submitting it (oh the shame) but a few years later. It hit me like a ton of bricks that it was rubbish and no wonder it got laughed out of town.

I committed every sin in the book. Headjumping, telling-not-showing, dialogue tags and worst of all...my heroine? She looked in the mirror to describe herself.

Oh the humanity!

I've always enjoyed writing though. It's been both entertainment and escape. I suppose from a young age it was the only part of my life over which I had control, so I threw myself into it even more deeply.

As for it being a viable career option, see the 'favourite memory' question, below...(ignoring the bit about punching someone who deserved it).

What do you write? Novels? Short stories? Poetry? Non-Fiction? Which do you prefer and why?
I've never written a short story in my life. The stories I think of are far too big to be 'shorts'. Come to think of it, I never even considered anything else besides novels; they're my default setting.

I occasionally write poems - and poetinahat's been very complimentary about my Sapphic odes, which only encourages me to write more.

My poems are autobiographical in that I wax poetic about snapshots of my life - just brief moments, so I don't give too much away. (Which makes me question my own sanity, doing this interview...) It tickles me to think people could read my poetry and wonder if I'm talking about them. Maybe I are, maybe I ain't...

My novels are, however, completely made up. They may be inspired by true events, but by the time they're finished, they bear no resemblance to the events, conversations or people who inspired them.

What is your favorite genre to write in? To read in?
Ooh, favourites? Well, for writing...I fall most easily into women's fiction. Or chicklit? Hmm...erotica lately. YA urban fantasy? I honestly couldn't tell you. It depends on my mood, where I'm at in my life and what sort of idea presents itself.

When it comes to reading, I'm just as fickle. I read everything. There isn't a single genre I haven't read. Poems, sport, bios, history, westerns, war, romance, erotica, chicklit, YA, MG, children's...you name it, I read it.

How do you generate story ideas?
I wake up in the morning.

Srsly. (See? LOLCAT spk!!!) I find just living my life gives me ideas. Every conversation, every happening, every meeting, every incident, I'm constantly thinking, "How would I write about that? Could I fit that into my WIP? If I use it as a starting point, what genre would it be?"

I love words, and I'm always thinking of how to rephrase conversations and rewriting history.

Ever go back and have a better conversation with someone in your head? That's me.

Give us an example of a typical writing day.
I lie in 'til midday, get up and drink 5 mugs of tea and have some rice krispies. Then I have a bath and straighten my hair. Eat some sweets. Go out, do my volunteer work or visit my (step)dad. Loaf about at his place, help myself to whatever I find in his kitchen. Go to the library. Come home, chat to thethinker42 on MSN for hours, then cram 2,000 words into an hour or so, before going to bed. Rinse and repeat.

But on a good day?

I get up at 8am, bath, straighten hair, breakfast. See to my chores (or volunteering for a few hours), then when I get home I spend the afternoon/early evening writing.

Sometimes I take the morning to myself and go into town and write in a cafe or in the library.

I don't outline. I just open up the file, scroll to where I've written up to, and crack on with it.

Sometimes I find it hard to get in the zone but as I don't believe in writer's block, I put this down to tiredness, life stress or migraines to which I'm prone. When I plan to write, I just...write.

What are your strong qualities as a writer?
Apparently I'm funny. So I've been told. I write dialogue well, although as I'm allergic to dialogue tags I perhaps don't use them enough. (Thanks for the heads-up, thethinker42).

And I can write a lot in a short period of time. I respond well to deadlines.


Your weaknesses?
Finishing. I start projects and even though I can take a month to get so far into the novel I only need another 10k to finish, that final 10k takes me an age to write.

So you could say my biggest problem is self-discipline, which is strange given how regimented I am about everything else...


If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Florence.

It's a beautiful city and if the reality is half as beautiful as the photos, I'd die happy.

If I was with a S/O, so much the better.

What inspires you to write and why?
I can't not.

Revenge.

Money.

Fame.

Groupies.

But the truth of it is - an absolute desperation for this not to be all there is to my life. I want more. More of what? I don't know. Just more.


What is your favorite book and why?
I Know This Much is True, by Wally Lamb.

I've never read a better book about mental illness and the search for one's roots. It really touched me on the sweet spot and I read it in floods of tears.

Bit of a Hollywood ending, I'll admit. Everything fit a tad too well. I like loose ends in a novel, to give it some veracity, but...well, Lamb gets away with it because he's such a damn good writer.

And as it was about the search for completeness, it was fitting that the end was so very, very complete.

It's one of the few books I've read which has made me think, "I wish I'd written that."


What is your favorite genre and why?
I'll read them all. I lean towards fiction, of course and I'd say my tendency recently is towards literary fiction, although genre is also my bag, man. Sorry. General answer there but my reading appetite is voracious. I'm an omnireader.

List your three favorite authors (any genre) and why?
Kazuo Ishiguro - his novels are terribly, terribly British, despite his Japanese origins. He's succinct, always to the point and he says in a few words what others take 100,000 to say.

Anita Shreve - I love the poignancy of her works. I'll always remember the refrain from Fortune's Rocks, which I read after the break up of my last relationship: "He was not hers. He was never hers."

Wally Lamb - anyone who can gender-bend in his writing that well is either psychic, TS or a miracle-worker.


What do you think makes a writer successful?
First of all, talent or a natural aptitude.

Then the absolute determination not to ever take no for an answer. An unshakeable belief that this is the work I was born to do. Talent isn't enough, though it's still important.

You need self-discipline - probably more than I currently have.

A thirst for self-improvement.

So...drive. Drive is the most important thing in my opinion.


What are your goals as a writer?
To be published, make lots of money and win plaudits and prizes.

I'd love, love, love to win the Booker purely for the prestige and bragging rights.

And...I'd like for Colin Farrell to read my novels and be so impressed by my talent that he just has to sleep with me.

Several times.

With chocolate sauce.

How long did it take you to write your book(s)?
I write fast, so if you put all my writing sessions together, a first draft takes me around two to three months, tops.

The last 10k or so takes up most of that time...I have performance anxiety...



If you have published a book, tell us about your publishing success (title, publishing date and company, where it is available to purchase)
Not applicable...yet!

What would you do differently if you could repeat the same publishing experience?
Not that I'm published, but I'd try not to waste so much of my twenties on having a nervous breakdown, sleeping around and having mental problems.

I'd have spent more time writing and learning how to improve, rather than pissing my life away on lovers who weren't worth it and locking myself in my room cutting myself.

What have you learned about the publishing world?
That, um...it helps if you submit stuff.

And said 'stuff' ought to be readable...


If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be and why?
Anne Boleyn. I don't think she was the harpy she was made out to be, nor the whore.

Or...Richard III, so I could tell him I don't believe he did it.


What is your favorite food?
Chocolate.

Although I was rather fond of my gran's tatties 'n' mince when she was alive. (Well, people tend not to cook much when they're dead, duh...)

And rhubarb crumble. NOM NOM NOM!


What is your favorite color?
PURPLE!!!

What is your favorite place?
I love my bed.

What is your favorite memory?
Punching my mother in the face after taking 16 years of child abuse and telling her if she raised her hands to me again I'd kill her as she slept.

She believed I would, which was the main thing.

Ahem. But if you're looking for something less violent...

When I was seven, Mrs Perry read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to the class and I nagged and nagged for my own copy, but was refused. My mother liked saying 'no', because it made her feel important.

Anyway, my (step)dad suggested taking me to join the library and I was mystified. What is this library of which you speak? thunk I.

So, they took me there - they went into town once a fortnight to get the groceries in, and for some reason I had the day off school. A holiday, maybe. I tagged along and my mother whined and moaned about me being there, but my dad took me into the library and my eyes nearly popped out of my head.

Bear in mind this is the central library in Birmingham (England) so it's not small...

And when my dad told me I could take any book home with me...three in fact...for over a month...free!!! I nearly died.

And after that...it slowly dawned on me...all those books in one place. Someone must write them, surely? And...when people buy books...they get money for them, right? So...the person who writes the books must get some money too?

If you could have any talent in the world besides writing, what would it be?
I would like the ability to seduce any man or woman I fancied. I haven't had nearly as much (sober) sex as I'd like.

Is there anything you’d like to tell us about yourself that might surprise people at AW?
Connected to my last answer in a way, I've been celibate for nearly five years. This has led, at times, to accusations of lesbianism, threats of rape, laughter, astonishment, disbelief and admiration. I'd rather have no sex than bad sex. And I'm praying the law of karma exists, 'cause I'm in for some good times soon, if it does.

I'm an all or nothing person, hence my decision. From one extreme to the other.


How has your experience of being abused informed your writing, or has it?
I'm not entirely sure it has. Unless it was a natural tendency that became an obsession when I needed something into which I could escape. Certainly reading was.

I suppose being abused taught me to depend on myself. This, in turn, made me something of a loner or at least one who can cope with being on her own. Not that I always enjoy it, mind...

And in turn this has made me lean towards more solitary pursuits. And I'm not just talking about self-abuse.

Writing...well, it's been the one constant in my life, so...I don't think abuse has influenced the content of my writing, just the fact that I write at all or so much and writing has definitely helped me cope with my background.


If you could change your actions at one single occasion in your life, what would you change and why?

Hmm...At first I took that to mean 'changing one thing about your past' but it reads differently now.

Of course I can't change my actions about anything because I didn't know then what I know now and I did the best I could with what I had. Still...

When I was seventeen I was at university studying physics, maths and biology. Hit the party scene, yadda yadda yadda. One night I got drunk, and a guy took advantage. I freaked out and ended up leaving the course a week or so later.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have stayed. Brazened it out, even. But I was a kid at the time and had been a virgin up to that point; couldn't handle all the crap that came with it, including him getting his friends to threaten me with 'more where that came from' if I told anyone.

If this is too much, let me know. But that's the one situation I would have changed. I'd have stayed at university and maybe my 20s would have been different; more structured, less drifting.

Or perhaps I would have changed courses. I always ended up studying the sciences while my true passion is the English language.

But I feel like my late teens/early twenties was a crossroads and that's the point where I would have taken a path different to the one I did.

I still would have ended up writing, though. Nothing would ever change that.

Thanks for doing this.
My pleasure. I think...

So my interview doesn't read in too pessimistic a manner, or like I'm saying "Woe is me, I had a bad childhood," I just thought of something...

I might have been through some dark moments but compared to my timeline as a whole they were only moments and I'm grateful for whatever it was that saved me. Whether it was God or my own inherent desire to live a better life, I don't know, but it was there and I'm still here.