I’m an author and freelance copywriter living in North Wales with my family and a pooch called Bailey.
My debut novel, a futuristic fantasy called Haven Wakes, was published in 2019 by Burning Chair. Think magic, and robots, and plenty of running around, curious doors that don’t necessarily take you where you thought you’d end up, and a 12-year-old boy in search of the truth. Phew! It’s quite a ride (run… stagger… trip… you know what I mean). Haven Wakes is the first book in the Haven Chronicles series.
As a fantasy author, I love to write about magical possibilities.
Are you working on something now? Can you tell us about it?
Yes, yes, I’d love to. I have two books under contract to Burning Chair. The first is the follow-up novel to Haven Wakes and book two in the Haven Chronicles series. I’m still throwing title ideas around with my publisher but in book two, Steve and his magical friends face the consequences of what happened in Haven Wakes. There are new challenges, a bigger world to explore, more mysteries to solve, and a new villain. There are familiar faces and new ones as Steve jumps back into the hidden underworld of magic and makes fresh discoveries about the world he thought he knew.
Tell us about yourself?
Oh, and there are plenty of robots too. If all goes to plan, book two – with an actual title – will be released within the next few months. The other book is non-fiction, again as yet untitled. As a freelance copywriter, part of the service I provide is social media advice for fellow authors, so I thought I’d crystalize that knowledge into an actual book. I’m working on the first set of edits at the moment so as they say, ‘watch this space’.
Which six books will you take to the Island?
This was so hard to decide but after scanning my bookshelves and thinking back over the reads that have stayed with me, these are the top six I’d happily read again and again.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I came across this read through my studies, but it’s a book I’ve returned to many times since. It challenges the idea of ‘monster’ brilliantly, and the difference between justice and revenge. The format – a book within a book within a book – fascinates me and has inspired me to use that format in a future stand-alone fantasy novel. The whole history around how the book came to be written and Mary herself is so rich too.
The Elusive Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
I’m generally not a fan of romance novels but the romantic element of this, the second Pimpernel novel, weaves so wonderfully with the action that I found this book a real page-turner. The copy I have belonged to my grandmother and my mum, so it has a special place on my shelf. I think the term ‘swash buckling’ is perfect for the Pimpernel novels.
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
I came across Skulduggery through my kids. Both of them have devoured the whole and vast series of Skulduggery books. It’s incredibly well written, features magical and believable characters, is exciting, and let’s face it – who wouldn’t want to read about a skeleton, wizard detective?
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Again, there’s a romantic element to this novel but that in no way detracted from the rich world of magic, circus, and the past that pulled me into the clutches of the Night Circus. I read this novel on holiday and was so engulfed in the read that my family had to drag me away from it to do anything else. The Night Circus itself is dangerous, and shadowy, but entrancing too. I’d love to visit (and maybe even stay).
Loitering with Intent by Peter O’Toole
This is the one non-fiction choice for my desert island reads although my late mum, who knew Peter O’Toole as a young adult, insisted that there was a generous helping of exaggeration in O’Toole’s autobiography. It isn’t a long read but it is as entertaining as O’Toole was himself. He’s an actor that I never tire of watching on-screen and this book is an equal delight.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I enjoy novels where an adult looks back over what happened to them as a child. That’s exactly what happens in this fascinating fantasy novel. It’s a story of regret, bitter-sweet reminiscence, and the courage of a child who is terrifyingly out of his depths in a newly discovered world of magic that lies so close to home and normality.
I reckon it would have to be a song that I can sing along to and one that tells a good old yarn too. In that case, the choice is decided for me. It has to be Hotel California by The Eagles. I practically know it off by heart already.
On a dark desert highway…
What will be your luxury item?
As a mum, I don’t do luxury very well. I’m increasingly practical. But if I had to force myself, the luxury item that I would take away for my desert island stay would be a digital camera, obviously with a fully charged battery. Imagine the memories I could record and the stories they would inspire.
Which fictional character will you meet?
Would it be too cheeky of me to choose a character from Haven Wakes? Hartley Keg is the colourful, boisterous, and badly-behaved shopkeeper who introduces 12-year-old Steve Haven to the hidden underworld of magic. He’s messy, and irreverent, and has lived through as many bad times as good. Despite that, he’s ever the optimist, seeing the best potential in people and always doing what he believes to be for the best.
Think Brian Blessed, the Patrick Troughton Doctor Who, and Michael Sheen all rolled into one.