Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I live in the UK and have published 3 books – two fiction and one non-fiction. I live in a very lovely part of west London, close to the river and I divide my time between my writing, running a craft website about living creatively and sustainably and working in my strategic consulting business.
I love to travel – and do so a lot – both for my work, for fun and to feed my writing. When I’m not bashing the keyboard I like to paint with watercolours, take advantage of all the cultural opportunities in London – especially art, theatre and museums.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My most recent book is Kurinji Flowers, published in October 2014. The initial idea came to during a sleepless night in a hotel room in South India as I imagined who might have stayed there when the hotel first opened in the 1930s. After I’d written the first draft I went back to India and lived on a tea plantation for a couple of weeks to drink in the atmosphere and check my facts.
I’m now writing my third novel – this time sparked by my research on my own family tree. It is entirely fictional – but some of the places and minor details in my great grandfather’s life got me started.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not really. Just head down and get on with it.
I do write “morning pages” though – free writing 3 pages as soon as I wake up each morning – but they are rarely directly to do with my novels. I write about dreams, rant about things that annoy me and generally blow off steam. It frees me up for the serious writing later.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Too many to list! I have read voraciously since I was tiny and I think reading is an essential requirement of good writing. I love the classics but as a teenager devoured anything that came my way. These days I read a lot as research, plus a book a month for my book club – and then whatever takes my fancy. I enjoy many genres – obviously historical – but I also have a weakness for crime.
What are you working on now?
My third novel, set in an industrial town in Victorian England (Middlesbrough) and the USA (New York and St Louis). Most of the book takes place between 1875 and 1900 – but there is also part that is set in the present day.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I try all sorts of things. I like to connect with readers – so I use Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook. I also have my own website and blog about once a week – usually about my work in progress, exhibitions or places I’ve visited – and a regular feature, Writers’ Rooms where I invite other authors to share their own writing place – and methods
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Read, read, read.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I love Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’ – packed full of great advice
What are you reading now?
I started reading Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky this morning. So far I’m enjoying it
What’s next for you as a writer?
Finish my third novel. At the same time I am working on a collection of short stories. Once they are all done I plan to finish a non-fiction book I’ve started writing on how to use new experiences to spark your creativity and enrich your life
What is your favorite book of all time?
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry