Where are you from?
I was born in London, grew up in London and still live in London now.
Did you go to university?
Yes. I was the first person in my family to go to university and I knew I wanted to study Literature. English had always been my favourite subject at school, but when I saw how many other amazing courses there were on offer I decided to apply to study Literature with something else, and Philosophy was what really appealed. I went to Warwick University and studied Philosophy and Literature and I had the most brilliant time.
What did you do after university?
As I had no idea about what I wanted to do when I left university I decided to try as many jobs as I possibly could in the hope that I might find my dream job along the way. The only criteria I had was that I did not want to wear a suit. After 18 months of temping jobs in offices, shops, a hospital and even a field, I got a job as a Receptionist in a Literary Agency. That was the day my luck finally changed.
Did you enjoy working in a Literary Agency?
Yes. As the Receptionist I answered the phone to lots of amazing writers and generally spent my day in awe of the fact that I worked in a lovely place with lovely people who cared about writers and writing just like me. And I got to wear my combat trousers every single day. In time I made it from Receptionist to Agent’s Assistant and eventually to Agent with my own list of TV scriptwriters. I was an Agent for 12 years and it was a fantastic job. But once I had children I decided to make some changes in my working life so I could be at home with my family more.
When did you start writing?
I’ve always been writing something – I have drawers full of notebooks with mostly unfinished drafts – so I’d say I’ve always been trying to write. But it was when I left agenting in 2012 and I was able to take a gap year that I got the idea for MY SECOND LIFE, and once I had the idea I was off. I wrote every single day, and above all else, I got to finish a draft. I think this is probably when I really started to write.
Had you always wanted to be a writer?
Probably, secretly, yes. But I’d never really been brave enough to do anything about it or believe that it was ever something I could seriously do.
Have you ever studied creative writing?
I did the Writing for Children course at The Faber Academy, and if I hadn’t done that course I don’t think I would ever have really given the writing a proper go. It was the springboard for me to really taking my writing seriously. I learnt loads and I met the loveliest most supportive bunch of people who loved books and writing too, so it really was a great thing to have done.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
It’s the same as lots of other writers have said before me… Read lots and write lots. And I think I would add to that – be curious. Absorb the world around you and explore the things that spark an interest in you – people, places, anything. This is where your ideas will come from, and writing will always start with a thought or an idea, however brief or unformed. And from there the exciting bit comes – finding your story!
Author Photograph by Zanna Hall