Thanks for having me Jazzy Book Reviews! You can read the whole Q and A here.
Tell me something about yourself.
I love dogs, particularly dopey fluffy ones, and I’m a big reader. I’ve recently found myself delving into the kid’s sections of bookshops with my son who, so far, seems to share my love of reading.
My dog doesn’t share my love of reading, but we do both like lying down, so we have that in common.
Do you have a writing routine?
I’ve spoken with a lot of writers over the last few years, and I’ve enjoyed learning about the different routines that people have. I’m slightly envious of those people who have a desk facing out of a window that overlooks the countryside. I used to have an hour lunch break and I’m a fast eater, so I got into the habit of booking out a meeting room at work and trying to write on my old broken iPad. Most of We Are Animals was written this way, and as a result, it took me four years.
I’ve allowed myself a little luxury whilst I’ve been writing my second novel, occasionally working on it in the evenings after my son’s gone to bed, with relaxing music and a glass of wine. This time around, the first draft has taken me around a year, so maybe this is the way forward for me (although it could also be the first step towards convincing myself that I should drink wine every night…)
Your second novel…will there be a We Are Animals 2?
The one I’ve been working on isn’t a follow up to We Are Animals, but there are hints towards some of the characters being in both books. We Are Animals is set over a long period of time, so I enjoyed creating sub-plots and background characters (some of them actual animals) that start, say, in the fifties, and then we find out what’s going on with them again later, in the nineties, for example. As a reader, I like finding little links like that, so as I writer I enjoy putting them in. It would make me so happy if someone was to notice one of them one day!
Do you have general themes you like to explore in your writing?
I enjoy writing about age. I like creating a sense of nostalgia, but also appreciate the innocence of youth and finding the common ground between generations. I find that there is always the common theme of long-lasting love in my writing too, with all the human flaws and the withstanding passion that can come with that.
Going away from writing now, tell me about yourself as a reader. What genres do you like reading?
I used to read mainly best-sellers of pretty much any genre, although my favourite is probably historical fiction. My theory was that there are so many books in the world, why not read the ones that have been vetted by the masses. However, We Are Animals is being published by an indie publisher (Lightning Books) and I’ve since learnt that best-sellers are vetted by the few large publishing houses, and then the press, before they manage to get to the masses.
I’ve recently found that reading independently published books has broadened the scope of what I read massively. I’m finding that when people ask me for a book recommendation now, it always tends to be an indie.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I don’t think there is a right or wrong way of writing (although it’s probably quite hard to write underwater), so I think my advice would be to do what feels right to you. I’ve heard lots of writers feeling down as a result of writer’s block or having the feeling that what they’ve written isn’t good enough. I would suggest just stopping for a bit if this happens. Writing is an enjoyable pastime, and if it ceases to be so, give yourself a break. You’ll probably find yourself longing to come back to it.
And don’t write underwater.