I’m half tempted to use my old Facebook profile: “Award-winning romance author: loves books, music, films, puns, gym, cake, history, science and dogs.” That tells you everything you want to know, doesn’t it?
Oh, wait. This is where I’m supposed to talk about the early stuff. And the call story.
OK. I always, always wanted to be a writer. I started reading at a precocious age, I persuaded my parents to give me a typewriter for my sixth birthday, and basically I was always reading or writing something as a child. (Often ghost stories. Of which see later…)
I started writing my first Mills & Boon when I was thirteen. My mum read it and was horrified – until I confessed that I’d borrowed the love scenes from Sara Craven (who I was very proud to call my real-life friend and I really miss her since her death. She was hugely amused by this story!). My mum suggested that I should try again when I was a little bit older.
So I went to uni to read English, had a few books and a lot of articles published, spent ten years or so working for an insurance company, and went freelance when our son Chris was born. Then our daughter Chloe arrived. At the age of six weeks, she spent her first Christmas in hospital with bronchiolitis and I started writing my first M&B Medical, A Baby of Her Own, at her bedside. Chloë recovered. My agent loved the book. So did M&B. It was accepted on Chloë’s first birthday and published on her second birthday – and Ottakar’s gave me a fab launch party. (Ottakar’s was taken over by Waterstones, and the lovely manager let me have a launch party on the exact same spot for Book 100 in Feb 2023 – how amazing is that?)
Since then, I’ve written more than 100 books for M&B and a few for other publishers, and I’ve sold eight million books or so worldwide, translated into more than 20 languages (which is kind of amazing – thank you very much to the readers who keep reading my stories, and I really appreciate that because of you I can do the job I love).
I love writing romances, but I also wanted to branch out a bit – things that my editor always cuts from my M&Bs. And there’s the ghost story stuff. (I’ve had a few published under my other name, and I love all the MR James type stories.) I’d been thinking about writing a cosy crime series for a while; and then Oliver Rhodes announced Storm Publishing. I think you were meant to send in full manuscripts, but I sent in three chapters, an outline, and the cheekiest email in the world. A couple of Zoom meetings later, they commissioned the first three books in the series, and The Body at Rookery Barn comes out in October 2023. (Yup – I got my ghost story in there…)
So that brings me back to my Facebook profile. Basically I’m a middle-aged mum of two, living with my husband and two exuberant spaniels in Norwich (roughly the middle of the bump above London); our two children have both graduated from uni and left home now. To bullet-point the rest:
- Award-winning romance author (time for the boasty stuff: I’ve been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romance Prize (RoNA Rose) seven times, and won three times – with Breakfast at Giovanni’s in 2008, Bound By a Baby in 2014 and A Will, a Wish and a Wedding in 2021)
- Crime author (that’s not listed above, but it is on FB) – the first comes out in October 2023
loves… (and these all appear in my books at some point)
- books (aka voracious reader across a very broad range)
- music (I’m all about the guitar – and my beloved Robert Plant – but I also like classical; I play classical guitar and the piano, but just for me and just for fun)
- films and theatre (everyone else in my house feels the same)
- puns (we have a fabulous theatre locally so we go to a lot of standup – puns are my favourites, though, because I love clever wordplay)
- gym (I struggle horribly with my weight despite the dog-walking – I like HIIT/Crossfit style training where I count reps because it clears my head for work, and I love ballet classes for the music, the movement, the floaty feeling afterwards and coffee with my classmates)
- cake (actually, I usually eat very sensibly; but I love cooking, and as Chloe is a vegan I’m experimenting a lot – it’s been a great excuse to buy new cookery books)
- history (particularly ruins, church architecture, museums, art galleries – days spent in archives are a joy, and I’ve written a few local history books; they’re out of print right now, but I’m trying to get the rights back so I can revise them and republish) (but watch this space for the crime…)
- science (particularly medicine, astronomy and meteorology; you’ll find a lot of sky pics and moon shots on my Facebook and Instagram pages)
- dogs (especially Archie and Dexter)