Where are you from?
I was born in London, grew up in London and I still live in London now.
Did you go to university?
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 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 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 had more time to commit to my writing, that things really started to happen; I had the idea for MY SECOND LIFE, I wrote every single day, and most importantly, I actually finished a draft.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Secretly, yes. But I’d never 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 attended 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. I was supported and encouraged on the course to take my writing seriously, and that was a changing moment for me. I also met a wonderful group of people, and we have continued to meet, share our work and discuss books. Our group has been, and still is, a really valuable part of my last few years as a writer.
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, objects. This is where ideas come from. All writing starts with a random thought, a “what if?” However brief or unformed it is, it doesn’t matter – you just need to capture it! And from there the exciting bit comes – finding and crafting your story.