My debut, After Everything You Did, will be published with Canelo Crime on 7th April and tells the story of Reeta who wakes in hospital with retrograde amnesia and discovers she’s under arrest for several brutal crimes. The reader learns along with Reeta exactly what happened, and follow her as she starts to uncover why she might have done these things – and can she really believe what the FBI are telling her about it all?
I’ve been writing all my life pretty much and started taking a stab writing books when I left university. I never really thought about pursuing it professionally, and my writing projects were more of just a hobby I enjoyed doing for my own ends – learning how to structure and pace them, how to create characters and plots was really my own form of entertainment and meditation. But as I got older I started to think maybe I could take it a bit more seriously and I applied to do a three-month novel writing course run by an agency, during which I finished the first draft of After Everything You Did. In my personal life my day job was as a chef, and up until recently I ran my own catering business. I’ve now moved out of the kitchen to a job that allows me to write about food and drink, which is a perfect combination of my loves!
Tell us about yourself?
Are you working on something now? Can you tell us about it?
I’m working on what will hopefully be my third published novel, that we will submit to publishers later this year when it’s ready. It’s a bit different for me and is more of a classic murder mystery, so I’ve had to give up my usual pantsing ways and tried to nail down a concrete plot and structure to make sure the reveals and clues are all lined up perfectly. It’s been really fun to try something new, and if all goes well I’d love to make it the start of a series – I already love the characters and think they have a lot more living left to do!
Which six books will you take to the Island?
The Outsiders SE Hinton.
We did this for GCSE and I immediately fell in love with it. I remember being so surprised that we were allowed to do a book this cool – I’d been so used to being forced to read Jane Eyre which I hated with a passion. So when this story of young greasers getting caught up in gang wars in 50s America was brought out by the teacher, it was maybe the first time I realised English class didn’t just have to be being forced to try and navigate Shakespeare, which no teenager really wants to do.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Susanna Clarke.
Reading this for the first time was the most magical reading experience for me. I was completely swept away by everything about it – from the long footnotes of equally brilliant little cutaway stories to the intricate weaving of real history into the tale, I think it’s a genuine work of genius. I’ve not read anything like it or since that stands up to the cleverness and richness of this book.
Edge Of Eternity Ken Follett.
This is the third in the century trilogy (and I love the whole series), but this one covers my favourite time period in history of the mid-C20th, taking us through the 60s and into the end of the Cold War in the 90s. Because you’ve followed the characters through their families at the start of the century, you really feel like you know them and you can see the level of research he put into it, so you really feel like you’re getting an insight into how real people interacted with these momentous historical events.
The Likeness Tana French.
I love Tana French, especially the Dublin Murder Squad series – which focuses on a different member of the squad in each book. Her writing is beautiful and The Likeness is a very clever story and the explanation at the end has really stuck with me. I haven’t ever re-read it, but think I’d very much enjoy the time on a tropical island to do it!
Magpie Murders Anthony Horowitz.
Another author I really struggled with choosing just one book of – but Anthony Horowitz for me is the best writer doing cosy crime with a difference at the moment. I’ve already read this twice but this book-within-a-book means there are so many layers to keep spotting new clues and new meanings to things. A really good ride of a book.
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared Jonas Jonasson.
I feel like I’m going to need some humour when I’m stuck on an island and I love the madcap adventures Jonas Jonasson writes. They just keep going and going in crazy directions, and each one I read with a smile on my face. The Hundred Year Old Man I love especially because we just see him stumble through world 20th century history, and it’s so ingenious.
Which disc will you take to the Island?
I have about four or five songs I class as my ‘favourites’ but there’s only one I think I’d bring to the island. A. because if I’m lonely and abandoned I will want to scream along to it because when I do I feel SO powerful and B. it’s like 8 minutes long so I think I’m getting more bang for my buck. So I couldn’t go to the island without Celine Dion’s It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.
What will be your luxury item?
Can I take a tablet loaded with all the back seasons of Real Housewives? The American franchises - the UK one is dire. Reality TV gets a lot of slack which I hate, and I’m an unashamed fan – the Real Housewives especially are genuinely an amazing character study of the dynamics in female friendship groups. But people don’t want to see that - they just want to think its girls scrapping on telly.
Which fictional character will you meet?
Ooh that’s a good question! Does it have to be from a book? Because I think The Doctor. I loved Doctor Who when I was younger and used to fantasise all the time about going off on adventures in the Tardis. I still turn it on now when I’m having a bit of an anxious time - real life is so rarely fantastical, it’s nice to escape for a little while.