And when I wasn’t doing that I was penning equally random and daft tales about the neighbours on our street, together with very amateur felt-tip illustrations. Thankfully my story-telling abilities have moved up several notches, even if my artistry hasn’t.
Cake meets domestic violence, travel, spirituality, comedy, and a bid for freedom in the arms of many an unsuitable man… all set against the backdrop of the weird and wonderful characters of the publishing industry.
And of course, there was a lot of reading to do on the subject of abuse – not so pretty, but essential for furthering my own personal understanding, and so I could tell a more comprehensive story.
Honestly, with two children whose school days are very short (we live in Spain), and whose holidays are ever longer, it’s impossible to have a standard writing day. So I have learnt to be the Queen of Multitasking.
Oh, the character names in this novel have each changed more than half a dozen times. Then again, it is a book that was several years in the making! My second novel (currently being perused by my publishers) was so much easier. The names seemed to magically float into my head from an invisible Idea Cloud and they have stuck ever since.
Pam Grout, Julian Fellowes, Jonas Jonasson and Marian Keyes in terms of wit and satire coupled with lovely language; Nigella Lawson in terms of writing unnecessarily long but poetic and mouthwatering sentences, and Joanne Harris, just for being all-round excellent at her craft.
Hours of creativity (with coffee and cake to hand) is undoubtedly the best part of the job. I am lucky because I live right on the beach, so add a stunning sea view to that and you really do have the dreamy writers’ life.
Let the unhelpful criticism go in one ear and straight out the other - and you will soon learn the difference between the unnecessary and constructive critique. I recall reading my very unpolished first chapter at a local writers’ group, hands twitching nervously, only for two slightly Older Dears to claim: ‘It’s rubbish… I’d throw it in the bin!’ On the other hand, these kinds of comments will often become rocket fuel to damn well finish and perfect your novel and get it out there!