When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think I was very young, maybe 6 or 7. As a child I always had my head in a book. I loved the fact that you could lose yourself completely in a novel written by someone who was from a different time or place – it still gives me a buzz now. I remember I used to write to authors telling them how amazing I found their books!
How important is research to you when writing a book?
Research is really important. You want people to believe what you have written, your characters right? In order to do that you need to have a level of credibility. You must do your research; it’s what helps readers really identify with the story. I don’t think you can write about something if you do not understand it. I don’t mean become an expert, although sometimes that’s what it takes. I would never want someone to read something I’d written and say ‘oh no, I’m in that business, that’s not believable.’ I would be horrified.
How did you come up with the title for ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’?
It is actually the title of a song I love. The original is by The Velvet Underground, I heard it first as a cover by a group called Japan. When I was thinking of a title for the book the lyrics of this song kept playing over and over in my head. It seemed to fit perfectly.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I usually start with a loose idea, a concept. I play around with it in my head and then come up with a series of ‘what if’s?’. I like to go with wherever the ideas take me. All Tomorrow’s Parties turned out that way. It started as one thing and completely turned into something else. I love it when that happens!
What are your hobbies? (Other than reading/writing)
Well now you’re asking Uma! Outside of reading and writing I love training my dog. She is an English Springer Spaniel. Some days it goes well, other days… well let’s not talk about those days! I walk a lot too, long walks with the dog of course. If I’m really stressed about something then baking becomes my obsession, there is nothing a good cake can’t fix!
Do you pen down revelations and ideas as you get them, right then and there?
Yes I do. A top tip a writer passed to me has stood me in good stead, so I shall pass it onto you – always ( and I mean always) carry a notebook and pen. I admit there have been times where I have forgotten and have had to use my phone and send myself an email or text with my bookish ramblings! I prefer a notepad though.
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
I am a people person, but I admit when I write, I do need my space. So, yea I think there is some truth in it. You need to spend a lot of time inside your own head as a writer and that’s something that is difficult to share.
Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?
I remember there was a poem I loved as a girl called ‘Cats Sleep Anywhere’ by Eleanor Farjeon. That’s what I’m like with my writing. Whilst I prefer my office I can and have written on trains and planes, in cafes and bars, I can and do write anywhere.
How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?
Music inspires me and provides a spark for ideas, but I do not listen to music when I’m writing. I block everything out and somehow shut myself off. That’s why I think I can write anywhere. My favourite writing environment however is a quiet one. Those are the times I enjoy the most.
What advice would you like to give writers who are struggling with their first novels?
If you have reached a point where you are continuously banging your head against a wall, walk away and do something different, it really works! Different doesn’t mean stop writing; it just means mix it up a bit. I like to write short stories as well as novels so switching between the two when I’m stuck really helps. Oh and always carry a notebook – you never know when you are going to need one!!