Tell me about your books
I write a travel mystery series called The Lost Mysteries. It’s for readers aged 11 and over. I write about themes that captivate me: nature, travel, history and friendship. My stories are set in exciting locations, with a historical mystery at their heart.
The main character is a young teenager who travels somewhere new in each story. He teams up with someone he meets there and they work together to solve a mystery. Each book is written partly in a historical period and partly in the present day.
When and how did you start writing?
I’ve always loved writing since I was a child. But it never crossed my mind that I might be a good enough writer to make a career out of it.
In my early 40’s, I reached a crossroads in my career and took some time out to travel and decide what to do next. After an amazing trip to Japan, I kept thinking what a great setting it would make for a mystery book. It seemed like an opportunity to give writing a chance.
How does a story begin for you? Is it an idea, a conversation, a title or an image?
For me, stories always begin with the setting. I’ll explore somewhere new, then start to get ideas from the history and culture of that place.
What was your favourite research activity you have done for a book?
Research for me is mostly travelling so I love all of it. I think the night-time trek through the rainforest in Costa Rica might be my favourite research activity so far. It was equal parts awesome and terrifying!
What writing advice have you been given that really helped you?
The best writing advice I’ve been given is to read more. It is the best and most enjoyable way to learn how to write better.
That advice really resonated with me because reading was how I first knew the world was full of wonderful things and amazing opportunities. I write to pass that knowledge on to others; to be their escape or inspiration.
Do you write to music or do you prefer silence?
I’m really sensitive to noise and find most sounds distracting when I’m working. Sometimes in the early mornings, I can hear birdsong and that’s lovely as a background sound for writing. I’m usually complaining it’s too noisy!
What do you consider your greatest writing accomplishment? And which was your biggest challenge?
I think my greatest writing accomplishment was being brave enough to publish my first book. There was a range of negative emotions that hit me when I finished writing it. I started to question whether I was good enough. I worried about how I would handle negative feedback or people laughing at me. It’s hard to put yourself out there for everyone to judge.
But then I thought, what if I am good enough? What if there are great reviews? What if doing what’s right for me is more important than what anyone else thinks? So, I went ahead and published. I’ve had some really positive feedback which has encouraged me to keep going.
My biggest challenge was writing a travel mystery during lockdown. My trip to Italy was cancelled and I didn’t want to take a break from the series with only two books on sale.
I picked a new setting, that I could actually get to, and started again. The Lost Cargo takes place on an island on the Jurassic Coast of England. I planned the book during the first UK lockdown, wrote it during the second UK lockdown, and researched it in between the two.
What are your current projects? What should we be looking out for?
I’m currently working on a mystery set in space. It has similar themes to my other books but instead of taking place during a trip abroad, it happens on a journey to another planet. With the sense of confinement I’ve felt during the pandemic, I think I have a good idea of what it would be like to be stuck on a space ship for a long period.
I plan to write more books for The Lost Mysteries series after this project.
What is your ultimate dream as a writer?
My dream is to spend every day travelling or writing, and still be able to pay my bills.
What advice would you give new writers?
Be prepared to spend a lot of time not writing. If you want to be traditionally published, you will probably have to spend a great deal of time looking for an agent and publisher. If you want to self-publish, you will probably have to spend a great deal of time on marketing and building your readership.
Once you’ve had some success, you will be able to focus mainly on writing. But first, you have to attract some attention.
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