I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Literally one of my earliest memories is of carefully writing out my newly learned letters on a piece of paper and rushing to my mum to ask: ‘What does this say?’ She struggled to come up with a word and broke the news that I maybe didn’t know quite enough letters yet. I was so disappointed!
I just could not wait for this magic to happen where I would think of something and write it down and then other people would be able to read my thoughts. Gradually, over the years, writing has become my superpower. I don’t believe writing is a gift, I believe it’s a craft. You think, dream and imagine and then you gently unearth your story and your characters from a blur of words. It’s not exactly easy, but it’s deeply fascinating. Writing has become my way of thinking about the world and connecting with people.
When I’m writing a novel, my characters always take over and of course, there’s a healthy pinch of me in every one. I see the world through their eyes, feel their joys and pains, cry their tears, write the scenes that will make them laugh and hope very hard that they will have their happy ending.
My heroines are making their way through the world. Some are raising families and managing the world of work; Annie Valentine lives and breathes family and fashion, while the St Jude’s girls are still in the teenage meltdown that is school. Nicole of Cross My Heart is trying to make sense of being young during the Second World War. All of my leading ladies or lassies are living through turmoil and drama, they’re falling in and out of love, mending their hearts, leaning on their friends, starting over, or simply carrying on.
My writing has grown up with me. That’s not to say it’s all deadly serious now when it was purely fun and frothy before. I’ve always written about the light and the shade in every life, but I hope I’m getting much better at it.
I’ve had several years away from publishing new books, which turns out to have been a good thing. I’ve been writing hard – non-fiction for my day job, which has sharpened my skills in ways I didn’t expect – and two big fiction projects that I’ve had the luxury of being able to spend years on. Without the pressure of having to meet deadlines and earn my living from fiction, I’ve been able to write and go away, re-read, re-write and, hopefully, when they are ready, these two stories will be good work that I’m proud of and that others will enjoy.
Meanwhile, there has been a lot of life happening. I’m based in Glasgow, Scotland, a wonderful city, despite its difficulties. But I’m still a country girl at heart and have become quite the hill walker. My family is growing up. I have a husband, one teenage daughter and a son who’s not even a teenager any more, plus parents who are beginning to age. Our family dramas, growing pains, sad times and good times have taken up so much time!
The amazing thing about getting older is that no age you were before leaves you and now there’s all this experience to draw on. I’ve been 5 and 15 and 20 and I’ve been the mother of a 5 and 15 and 20-year old. That’s a whole world of emotion to explore. But yes, this parenting thing, it is wonderful, but also exhausting and demands every last little piece of you! At times, I would just like to be left alone with a good book.
I am aiming to get back on that social media horse in my own somewhat introverted way. Social media can make me feel like the awkward tall girl standing in the kitchen at parties but, you know, we awkward people need a voice too. So now and then I will be on my facebook page, and Instagram and maybe even Twitter too. I’m even available on LinkedIn… but must update that photo. Think it’s about 10 years old now. I have to wear reading glasses at the laptop now… aaargh!