What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka – it is an incredible and beautifully written book encompassing political turmoil in Sri Lanka, the afterlife, magical realism, and biting wit.
Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?
I have been reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.
Do you re-read books? And if yes, what was your last re-read?
I have several favorites, notably anything by Charles Dickens, but top of the list is Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca was my last re-read.
What are your go-to genres?
I suppose my favorite reads have a historical element to them. I love strong female voices throughout the ages, so it could be Bronte or Austen, or Woolf or modern authors such as Hilary Mantel.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Rapunzel. Swishy hair!
What books are on your bedside table right now?
The short stories of F Scott Fitzgerald and Trinity by Leon Uris which is all about families in Ireland through decades of turbulent history.
Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?
Oh dear, I am a confirmed dog-ear page culprit. Naughty me. I just can’t help it!
What is your ideal reading setting?
Sunday afternoon at home, blazing log fire, comfy sofa, cup of tea nearby.
Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?
Coles Books of Bicester in Oxfordshire. It’s a lovely shop and the owners really care about bringing exciting new books in for their customers.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I was three, I wanted to write a letter with a new writing set I got for Christmas. So, I just wrote lines of scribble for the lady next door and proudly presented it to her in an envelope. She was very sweet, but I knew from her chatting with my Mum that I wasn’t really writing. That kind of hurt me. That was the spur for me learning to read and write. I started very young because my Mum was a teacher.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
The most memorable was a family trip to Concord, Massachusetts a few years ago to see the home of Little Women author Louisa M Alcott. I felt as if I was walking through so much history.
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
I work in a tiny room at the top of the house in my village in Oxfordshire. I look over the rooftops to the fields beyond for inspiration.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have one unpublished novel which is a rom-com and I have the rights to another related one, which my first literary agency published themselves through an in-house imprint early in my career. I have another work in progress which I wouldn’t say is “half-finished”. Perhaps it’s just beginning…
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read everything! I think if people are willing to take the time to read my book, I have got to honor their commitment and reflect on their feedback.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t be too hard on yourself because sometimes things take a long time to come to fruition in publishing. Love your readers. They really matter.
When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
I have two teenage boys, so I’m a full-time mum, running the home. I love swimming and walking, and my secret passion is riding horses.
What are your three favorite things right now?
I love my ink fountain pen, my gold and moonstone necklace with Ganesh on it, and my Fitbit watch because I can keep track of how many steps I’m doing.
Your favorite travel destination and why?
Barbados for all the fabulous family holidays over the years. The people are so welcoming, and we all love recharging by swimming in the ocean.
What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?
Something wonderful from a Korean restaurant, like a Bi Bim Bap, and a large gin and tonic, plenty of ice, and a slice of lemon.
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
Emily Bronte, Fay Weldon, Armistead Maupin, Jilly Cooper, Daphne du Maurier, F Scott Fitzgerald. Imagine the conversation!
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, and who would play you?
Some kind of romantic comedy about a mother juggling life and writing with disastrous consequences. I’d love Isla Fisher to do it but I’m flattering myself hugely. But, hey, that’s Hollywood!
What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
The French version of Call My Agent, ‘Dix Pour Cent’ which was also fantastic in the British adaptation Ten Per Cent.
You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?
Robbie Williams, Let Me Entertain You. Full throttle and possibly a bit off key.
If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I’d be so engrossed that I’d never get lonely.
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