1. Tell us what you write and why?
I write romance: predominantly Historicals set in Dark Ages Britain (7th Century Anglo-Saxon England and 4th Century Scotland). I have also recently started writing Epic Fantasy Romances, and have published a few contemporary romances set in Italy.
My fascination with early British history and my love of Epic Fantasy have dictated my choice of setting. I wrote the contempories set in Italy as an experiment, but in doing so realized that I prefer writing stories in forgotten or new worlds! These days I am trying to find a balance between pleasing my own interests and filling the needs of a hungry romance readership!
2. Why romance?
Seriously though ... the search for love is a central part of what it means to be human. Romance is one of the most popular genres (if not the most popular) for a reason. I write romance because although I've never been a reader of the more traditional 'frilly' romance, I adore stories with an emotion-filled, angsty love story in them! A bit of romance makes any story better.
3. Which book inspired you to begin writing?
Two Epic Fantasy books: The Lord of the Rings, and The Sword of Shannara inspired me to try and write my own stories as a teenager. I've always enjoyed reading adventure stories where the characters undergo a huge personal transformation along the way. For romance, my major influencers have been the Outlander series (Diana Gabaldon), A Knight in Shining Armor (Jude Deveraux), and The Circle of Ceridwen series (Octavia Randolph).
4. Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?
Yes, I do have a day job - I'm a freelance copywriter! I divide my time between writing fiction and writing marketing and web content. The day job has actually been invaluable for my fiction, as being a self-published author I have to do all my own marketing. I do enjoy my copy writing work, although writing stories is my first love!
5. Can you tell us about your current projects?
Happy to! :-) I have two novels on the go and the moment, and one about to be released. My Historical Romance set in Dark Ages Britain, WIND SONG (Book #2 in the Kingdom of Northumbria series) is available on pre-order and will be released on November, 15 2017. This is the second-last novel I'll be writing in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England. When I finish the next (and final) book in the series, there will be 9 books set in this world .... split into three 3-book series!
I've also 20% into Book #2 of my Epic Fantasy Romance series: Light and Darkness. I'm still deciding on the name for this book, but the working title is THE LOST SWALLOW.
My second work in progress is a Scottish Dark Ages Romance: BARBARIAN SLAVE, Book #2 of my Warrior Brothers of Skye series. It's set in 4th Century Isle of Skye - the world of the Picts.
6. What about future writing projects?
I have a thousand ideas in my head, all fighting to be written about! My short-term plans are to finish the three series I'm working on at the moment. I'd love to write more set in Scotland ... maybe Medieval Isle of Skye ... and more Fantasy Romance ... but I will see where the muse leads me!
7. How productive are you? Do you think it's possible to write fast, and well?
At the moment I aim to publish around 4 novels a year. This can be quite a stretch, and I do have to work hard to achieve it. I don't think an author should ever 'rush' a book, but I do believe that you can write quickly without affecting the quality of the novel. Actually, I find that when I'm really into a story, and lost in that world, I write both faster and better. I get carried away by the tale, especially once I reach the last third of the first draft.
I think that if you write in other genres, such as Historical fiction of Epic Fantasy, readers don't expect more than one book a year from you. However, Historical Romance readers are voracious - some of them read 3-4 books a week! If an author doesn't produce novels steadily, they get frustrated!
8. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a writer?
Be clear on what you want to get out of writing from the very beginning. Is it a hobby and nothing more? Is it a hobby with a bit of pocket money? Is it a part-time job? Would you like it to be your main source of income? Do you want to win awards and recognition?
The reason for establishing your goals early on is that it frees you from the expectations of others ... and from your own insecurities. There's nothing wrong with writing for pleasure only, and not caring if no one besides your family and friends read it, but there's nothing wrong either with aiming high! If you do aim to make this your career though, you will need to treat it like a job from the very beginning ... and that means improving your craft, learning everything you can about all the aspects of the writing, editing and publishing process (especially important if you're self-publishing), and sorting out a writing schedule.
Sorry ... none of this advice is particularly sexy. I used to have quite a romantic idea about what being a writer entailed, but now that I am one I realize that even if you are in it for love it's really hard work!