Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
'Harcourt's Mountain', an Historical Romance set in British Columbia in 1867, and published by Tirgearr Publishing, is my first book. It was nominated for the RONE 2014 Award and won the NY Literary Magazine 2017 Best Story Award. I am currently working on the sequel, 'Heart of the Mountain'. I have a rather large plan for three different series of books that will have 'Harcourt's Mountain' as their starting point.
I have a short story, 'The Man with a House on His Back', in the latest SA Horrorfest Anthology, 'Blue Honey and the Valley of Shadow' published by Crossroads Press. My short story was a semi-finalist in the ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Contest 2018.
Hopefully by the end of April, I will be publishing my own anthology of short stories, '12|17'. It's a mix of genres. One reviewer said they enjoyed 'New Life', one of the stories as much as they did a Stephen King short story. Another said, 'Mastermind' had a Dean Koontz vibe. But they're not all King/Koontz. There's also humour, and family stories as well.
I was born in Zambia, grew up in Zimbabwe and currently live in South Africa. I trained as a designer, ran my own consultancy for a while. I then worked in Advertising for a long time, ending as Assistant Creative Director. When I moved to South Africa, I sequed into the television industry working in both local and international broadcast television, working with Discovery, Animal Planet, and NatGeo Wild. I am now a Content Creator providing content of all kinds, but mostly copy, to both my local and international clients.
I have a writing assistant named Henry who, to be honest, is more concerned with getting his 18 hours sleep in every day than coming with up anything more than, 'Feed me!' as his contribution to content creation.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book that has been published is 'Harcourt's Mountain'.
My inspiration? In the mid 1800s, two gentlemen decided that to help civilise Canada, especially British Columbia, they needed women. So they established the Bride Ships, offering free berth to any woman, from Ireland and the East Coast of America to British Columbia, who was looking for a new life and the possibility of finding a husband.
With a twist in that scenario – the ship's owner being a seriously bad man and selling the women or putting them to work in his brothel – I wanted to explore the relationship between a man and a woman who were married before they'd even said hello.
My hero rescues his very soon-to-be wife off the ship by paying one hundred dollars in gold for her.
The trouble is, he doesn't want a wife, and makes a promise never to touch her. It's a promise he soon finds hard to keep.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Actually writing is quite unusual! I've discovered a great talent for procrastination.
After 'Harcourt's Mountain' was published I decided to explore a different genre. Three years and three drafts later, I realised I needed a break from that as I was feeling quite despondent.
I went back to Historical Romance to write the sequel my readers had been asking for. The break from the genre though had aroused the Procrastination Monster. I have tried to set myself a deadline to getting the book finished. Hopefully that will defeat his nefarious plans!
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I have a very eclectic taste when it comes to books. My favourite authors are Jane Austen, Dudley Pope, Terry Pratchett, Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie, Dick Francis, Mary Stewart, Francine Rivers, Daphne du Maurier, Ellis Peters, PG Wodehouse and Martha Grimes.
What are you working on now?
"Heart of the Mountain', the sequel to 'Harcourt's Mountain' is my current WIP (Work in Progress). It's the second book in the series I'm planning on the Harcourt family of British Columbia. The research is huge as I live in South Africa and haven't even visited British Columbia! Yet. One day…
I'm also prepping my short story anthology, '12|17' for publication in the very near future.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
My own website, Facebook, my publisher, Tirgearr Publishing's website, guest blogs on other author's site, Twitter and in the near future, Pinterest. I just have to figure it out. At the moment, Pinterest has me flummoxed. Perhaps I just need chocolate…I always need chocolate.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Do a writing course. It saves so much time.
Join a short story challenge group. The challenge of writing to a given prompt, by a strict deadline and to a strict and exact word count is exceptionally good practise and discipline.
Get pedantic about spelling and grammar. Get a good grammar book. I use 'Grammar Rules' by Craig Shrives. It's clear and easy to read.
Don't expect your editor to fix your spelling and grammar. it's your job to send in as tight an MS as you can. Jeffrey Archer does 14 edits of his own books before they even get within smelling distance of his editor.
Be logical. I once had a book come to me for editing that had immortal elves dying. Immortal. Dying. Seriously?
Learn about the different types of editing a book needs to go through before you hire an editor.
For long form, I'm a plotter and find it helps enormously. It saves time and I am then free to concentrate on the actual writing, rather than trying to figure out plot as I go. So, my advice is plot your book out first.
Read, read, read. Write, write, write is advice that's always given and it's excellent advice. I would add though, read intentionally – look for what makes the book good or bad. Take note of how the sentences are laid out. Take note of the structure of the work. Write intentionally – to improve with every sentence, every paragraph, ever story.
It's easy to self-publish, but my advice, especially for your first book, is – don't. The value of rejections by publishers, as well as acceptance, is inestimable. It's a growth point every writer should go through. It not only weeds out the writers from the wanna-bes but it also improves your writing.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Write this book! – My facilitator on the romance writing course I did talking about Harcourt's Mountain.
What are you reading now?
'Sense and Sensibility' by Jane Austen. I try to read at least one of her books every year. This year I've read, 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Emma' and 'Persuasion' so far. Oh, and 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte, but I read that every year as well.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Conquer the procrastination! Not only do I have those three series from 'Harcourt's Mountain' planned, but I WILL conquer that misfit book! I also have at least 25 book ideas, some even with first chapters already written that I need to get done.
What is your favorite book of all time?
It would be hard to choose just one. If pushed, probably 'Jane Eyre'…
Or 'Pride and Prejudice'…
Or 'My Cousin Rachel'…
Or 'The Nightwatch'…
Or 'Lord of the Rings'…
Or 'A Voice in the Wind'…
Or… see what I mean?