I’m half tempted to use my 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.
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.
Since then, I’ve written more than 80 books for M&B and a few for other publishers, and I’ve sold seven 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).
So that brings me back to my Facebook profile. Basically I’m a middle-aged mum of two, living with my husband and exuberant spaniel in Norwich (roughly the middle of the bump above London); our eldest is at uni and our youngest is in sixth form (so eldest lives with us in uni holidays and youngest full-time until she goes to uni in 2019). 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 twice – with Breakfast at Giovanni’s in 2008 and Bound By a Baby in 2014)
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 – I have a great excuse with my youngest planning to read English)
- 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)
- 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)
- science (particularly medicine, astronomy and meteorology; you’ll find a lot of sky pics and moon shots on FB)
- dogs (especially Archie)