Nine (hopefully interesting) facts about me
- I am a cat person. When I was young we had dogs (golden retrievers and beagles) but when I could choose it had to be cats and so over time The Lodger, Solomon, Beaver, Pachelbel, Patchouli, Sheba, Trouble, Strife, Hooligan and Nuisance have all been important to me. Now, most recently my husband and I are staff to Milly and Molly – our two rescue cats.
- I am a Northerner. I was born in Cheshire and spent my school and university days on Merseyside. I support Liverpool Football Club, and have since 1961. Although I moved south for my first job, and have been there more or less ever since, I still think of myself as ‘from the North’ and many of my characters are northerners too.
- I have green fingers. I plant many things – avocado stones, acorns, rotten tomatoes, melon seeds, bits broken off pot plants – and practically all grow. My grandfather was a nurseryman and my great-grandfather on the other side so maybe that’s inherited.
- I’m really interested in history and politics. I believe that it is impossible to understand any individual’s decisions, actions, motives or feelings without understanding something of the times in which they live. I really enjoy researching the details so that everything in my books is portrayed as accurately as possible.
- I don’t write autobiographically. Some of the characters in my books may be bits of me, some (or part) of the incidents in their lives I may have experienced, some of the opinions and prejudices they give voice to may be mine but my books should not be considered ‘autobiographical’. Honestly.
- I still have a lot to learn about writing. In the fifteen years since my first book was published I have learnt many things about writing including: you can’t go through too many drafts as you write the best book you can, punctuation and correct spelling is important (but don’t trust automated spell-checkers), book cover and blurb are very important because people do judge a book by them. I know I still have a lot more to learn but I know I could never do a formal course.
- I’d love not to be self-published. All my books have been self-published because I am too impatient to send stuff off to agents/publishers on the off-chance someone might bother to read it. I would, however, love to have the advantages (and disciplines) of a contract with a mainstream publisher so I’d have a chance of joining the ‘autobiographies’ of ‘celebrities’, the cook books no one will ever refer to and those books heavily promoted by bookshops (since they own the publishing company) that appear on best-seller lists. Me? Cynical? Never!
- I think much of what gets adapted for the screen is rubbish. I’d love to see any one (or more) of my books adapted for television (mini-series I think as they need more time than a film would allow). I believe my characters are more interesting and more three-dimensional, my plots tighter with inconsistencies far rarer than in much of the dross that makes its way onto television. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?
- I have done some interesting things in my life: a selection…
In my teens (the 1960s) I was an extra in several successful Bollywood movies (Love in Tokyo was not all filmed in Japan!) and, apart from eating the best curries ever, sheltering from air raids (there was a war on) I learned the best way to eat a mango (naked under a shower).
In my twenties I raced (admittedly not very competitively) Formula Ford cars and have the honour of having been overtaken (at least) three times by the (then future) world champion Ayrton Senna.
In my thirties I set up my own business (I was pretty much unemployable) and almost learnt to fly (I did at least pass Ground School and fly one circuit solo).
In my forties I did very little except work (and move house four times).
In my fifties I began to write and publish books (moving house only three times).
In my sixties I carried on working, and writing whilst moving house four more times.
Now in my seventies – who knows?