Q: How did you get into writing?
When I was at school about eleven or twelve years old, my teacher set us weekend homework – to write a short story. It was supposed to be one page. I wrote about twenty pages. I typed them up on my Dad’s typewriter and even made a cardboard book cover and illustrated it. This book was called Sunbeam, and featured a girl and her pony. I think my Dad still has it in a drawer somewhere.
I fully expected an A+ for the assignment. I didn’t get it (I got an A- ). It did however, convince me that writing was the best thing in the world to do.
Q: Where do you get the ideas for your plots and characters?
For me, this is the really magical bit of writing.
Ideas can be triggered by anything I find interesting or unusual. Some tiny thing will float around the back of my brain for a while, meet up with another idea and slowly a story starts to build. Most books are several different ideas merged into one tale.
People are a constant source of inspiration – usually without knowing it. I have a T-shirt, a gift from another writer, which says…
Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel.
That’s not far from the truth.
Q: You have a novel coming out in July, Girl Racers. What can you tell us about this book?
My brother is a rather successful amateur car rally driver. One day I was driving one of his cars… a classic 1969 Ford Mustang. Within half a mile, I was pulled over by a policeman even though I was doing nothing wrong. He just seemed to find it very strange that a woman would be driving such a car.
As a result, I decided to write a book about a girl in a sports car… well, two girls – who might break some speed limits …. and some hearts.
Q: What did you do to celebrate your first published novel?
All right – I’ll confess. The day I got the phone call saying Little Black Dress wanted to publish my first book, I cried like a fool. It might seem silly, but it was the realization of a dream for me. My partner John and I went out for dinner to celebrate. It was a Korean restaurant – lots of raw fish and chilli.
Q: What do you want readers to take about from your writing?
I write about people’s lives and emotions… their hopes and fears and desires. I would like to think that the readers will relate to some of those things. My characters (at least the good ones) always end the book in a better place than they began… and maybe that might give the readers encouragement to look towards their own positive future.
I also like to think my books will give each reader a smile – maybe more than one.
Q: I read that you have always loved horses- I as well! How hard was it training for horse shows?
In the Australian bush, horses are work more than play. I used to muster cattle on horseback. When I moved to the city, I brought a couple of horses with me, and that’s when I got seriously involved in competition.
I had a ‘real’ job as usually two horses in training at the same time. I would get up when it was barely light to work one horse before I went to work, then ride the other after I got home. What a great way to lose weight and get fit! On weekends, several of us would travel together to shows to compete. I’m not the world’s greatest horsewoman, but I did win a few ribbons here and there.
Q: You went into journalism after graduating, is that what your major was?
When I was still at school, I saw a reporter on television doing a story about a fancy beach holiday resort. I decided on the spot that was the job for me. Writing and beaches – what could be better?
I studied journalism at University, but also stumbled into sociology and political studies. My career as a reporter followed a similar path. I was a general reporter, then became a specialist crime reporter. After that, I migrated across into politics. I never did get to that beach resort.
I discovered that whatever field I was in, the best part about it was the fascinating people I met. From Presidents to policemen, movie stars, nuns, teachers to taxi drivers… every single one of them had a story to tell.
Q: You now work as a consultant with computers, how did you get into that field? And how do you find time to do that work and write novels?
The computer work arose from being a television journalist. I was a producer – working behind the scenes to make TV programmes. I was really interested in the technology that I used to do that. These days, I spend a lot of time designing computer systems to help other producers do what I did – but better and easier.
As to time – I do spend a lot of time in planes and airports. I hate both and bury myself in writing when I’m stuck there. I write in hotel rooms where the TV programmes are in languages I don’t speak. Basically, if I stop doing anything else for more than a few minutes, I start writing. Even if it’s just in my head. There’s a lot of thinking and plotting and planning goes into a book before the words get onto a page. I can do that anywhere, anytime.
Q: What would be your advice to aspiring writers?
There are two things I think are important..
You need to be determined. You’ll face a lot of criticisms and rejections, and not just when you are starting out. You just have to take it. Learn from it if you can, then keep going. I have a drawer full of rejections – they were part of the learning process. The important thing is not to give up.
You need to write from the heart. Trying to write what you think someone else wants never works – at least it doesn’t for me. Write what you want to write. Write something you believe in. That’s what makes your work shine.
Q: You have lived and traveled a little bit of everywhere! Where would you say is your favorite place to visit?
It may sound corny, but my favourite place to visit is somewhere I haven’t been yet. The world just fascinates me. Every place is different and has its own special charms just waiting to be discovered. People are fascinating too – how different they are from place to place and how much they remain the same everywhere.
But – if you are going to force me to choose…
A desert anywhere for the silence and the beauty.
Any mountain for the taste of the air.
New York for the shopping.
London for the theatres and bookshops.
Sydney for the harbour.
Rome for the men (Mama Mia indeed!).