When you aren’t writing, what do you do for a job?
I write pretty much full time at the moment having given up my part-time Public Health Nursing position to pursue my writing dream. I worked as a nurse for over 20 years and then had a very long discussion with my husband about giving that up. It was a hard call to make, but the right one for me. My submission deadlines are now so tight (one book every four months) I couldn’t possibly manage to fit in a job too- much kudos to those writers who manage to juggle a lot of balls at once! Having said that, I do run my husband’s business for him- but that’s steady work with long term contracts, so I only get really busy at tax time! I’m also a mum of two teenage boys so they keep me on the ball too…Plus, the writing business isn’t just about writing books these days, so some part of every day I’m either writing a blog, visiting a blog, visiting social media sites, dealing with revisions or edits, working on new plots/ series etc.
When do you generally write your story, and where?
I try to fit exercise into some part of every day, so I usually get that over with first (zumba, yoga or power classes depending on the day) , then shower and get down to writing in our study. I’ve just started lighting candle when I write – a kind of a ritual thing that a psychologist friend suggested I try to help me focus and say ‘now I am writing’ – and I really enjoy the flickering light and gorgeous smell. I write in silence. I’ve found that my most productive part of the day is after lunch, but I’m working on trying to bring that forward somehow because once I get into my stride I don’t want to stop- and when you’re chief taxi driver to two busy kids you have to leave the desk whether you want to or not. Oh, and I’m the queen of procrastination, so throw in a phone chat, the offer of coffee with a friend, Facebook- and I can easily fritter away an hour that I can’t get back. When I’m actively writing a story, rather than editing or planning, I have a 1500 new word count that I stick to. So, my process tends to be- read over what I wrote yesterday, add to it/ edit it and then write the next scene. Doesn’t matter how long it takes, but I MUST write 1500 new words. Every day. I use Scrivener as a writing programme and that has a project target tracker that I use religiously.
What made you decide to write in the first place?
I’ve always loved books and the cadence of words- I used to write poetry when I was younger but the idea of being a writer never occurred to me! I was brought up in the north of England during an era where the local industry was closing down, and advised very soundly to make sure I had a profession that would ensure I was always employed and employable- hence the nursing bit. When we emigrated here ten years ago my Mum came over to stay (from UK) and suggested I join an evening class to meet people while she babysat. The only class that appealed was creative writing so I went along. It was great fun, and having to write 300 word stories for homework made my brain tick in a way I’d never had before. Once I started I just couldn’t stop!
What made you decide to write Medical stories for Harlequin Mills and Boon?
Until about 7 years ago I’d never read a romance novel in my life, and certainly not a category Mills and Boon one. I was a literary snob, shame to say. Once I’d got hooked on the writing gig I started to attend any writing workshops I could find and afford. A friend invited me to the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference in Auckland and I went along. We were given FREE books in our registration pack and one of them was a medical romance. I’d never heard of it as a genre before! And once I’d read one I was like -‘wow- there are books for people just like me!’ and I was hooked. Fast forward a few years and Mills and Boon were offering a fast track opportunity for their medical line- one of the editors there liked my voice and 1st chapter, asked for more…then more….then came four lots of revisions and, finally, The Call!
Do you research the medical parts, or do you have first hand knowledge?
Obviously with a nursing background and a doctor for a husband I do have first hand knowledge, but I always make sure to double check all my facts. The medical part does tend to be setting, though, rather than a huge part of the story.
Where would be your ideal place be to write?
I pretty much love where I write now, at home- but I would prefer a nicer view than my driveway. Somewhere I could see the sea would be lovely.
If money was no object, would you write full time?
As I said before, I took a risk and now I do write full-time- I’m just waiting for the money to start happening!
Tell us a little something about the book you are currently working on: