What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you might hit a star.” I love this quote from W. Clement Stone as I find it incredibly inspirational. I set a lot of goals for myself, and I really beat myself up if I don’t meet them—however unreasonable they might be. This quote reminds me that it’s good to aim high, even if I don’t always get there.
What is your favorite quality about yourself? My determination. If I decide to do something, I always see it through to the end and always to the best of my ability. I don’t like to give up.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself? I’m a very impatient person. If I’m struggling to get the hang of something, I sometimes have to take a step back before the frustration takes over. I think sometimes that if I had more patience, I might achieve things more quickly—but of course I’ll never know!
What is your favorite food? This is a really tricky question for me as the list of dishes that I love is endless. It depends a lot on my mood. Saying that, you can’t beat a home-made pizza, or a lamb tagine. My favourite cake is carrot cake—delicious!
What’s your favorite place in the entire world? The Devil’s Marbles in central Australia. It’s not very far from Uluru, and it’s an amazing place. I travelled around Australia in 2008 with my boyfriend, and we spent a night at the campsite there. It sounds silly but I’d never been somewhere so dark before! (I live in the UK, and no place is truly in the middle of nowhere here—not like that.) We lay back in amongst the boulders and looked up at the black sky, which was speckled with thousands of stars like it had been dusted with sugar. It’s just breathtaking.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? Writer’s block is a tricky concept for me as I don’t allow myself to believe in it! I think all writers have good and bad days, but it seems to me that as soon as you attribute a bad day to writer’s block, you’re paving the way for it to keep happening. It’s not making an excuse, exactly, but the way I see it, if I don’t acknowledge it, it can’t plague me!
Who designed the cover? Kit Foster (http://www.kitfosterdesign.com/) designed the cover, and I’m so pleased with his work. I was pretty useless throughout the design process, and when I initially approached Kit about designing the cover, I had no ideas at all. Luckily, he came up with some great initial sketches, and we went from there.
How did you come up with the title? Normally, titles aren’t my thing. I can wrack my brains for hours and only manage to come up with the lamest, most predictable thing imaginable. But this one seemed to pop into my head. It was something that one of the characters said. I had a lightbulb moment and thought, “That’s got to be the title.”
Can you tell us about your main character? The main character in Red Threads is called Lily Robinson. She’s twenty-six and lives with her boyfriend Nick. She works in a small local history museum run by a man named Jules. All in all, Lily’s life is pretty regular. It’s ordinary, nothing to get too excited about—until she starts having visions, which accompany excruciating headaches. She sees red ropes connecting people, and then things get even weirder when she meets a stranger on a train, who knows her and the things that she is seeing—and tells her that he can explain it all and help her work out how to use what she sees to improve her life…
What inspires you to write and why? I’m the kind of person who writes literally everything down. It helps me clear my head. If I know I have a certain number of things to do the following day, I have to write myself a to-do list or I can’t switch off. Writing fiction is a similar process for me. If I get a story idea in my head, I can’t switch off until I sketch out an outline for it, or just start writing.
What inspired you to write your first book? This book—my first published novel—was inspired by a blog post I wrote during the 2012 A-to-Z Challenge. For every day in the month of April, you write a blog post on a different letter of the alphabet, starting with A and working through to Z. The subject I had chosen to write about was mythology: Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Native American, Japanese, and Chinese. My post for ‘R’ was a Chinese concept, the Red String of Fate, and it just went from there.
What are some of your favorite books, and why? I think Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is an amazing story. I also love The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. He has such a powerful writing style that I find it impossible to put his books down.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? I learnt the real value of working with an editor. You can be told over and over that it’s vital to have an editor go through your work, but I don’t think it becomes clear just how important this is until you’ve actually done it. No matter how hard you try to get it right, you’ll probably be making mistakes you didn’t even realise were mistakes—I know I was!
How long have you been writing? I’m going to give you a slightly clichéd answer at this point, but I’m afraid it’s the truth: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. When I was much younger, I would annoy my parents for an idea so I could write a story for them. I’m not sure why I couldn’t come up with my own ideas, but there you go! My first attempt at longer fiction was called ‘Rose Meadow Farm’, and was about a riding centre. I don’t remember much about it, or even how old I was, but that title has stayed with me.
What is your greatest strength as a writer? I don’t really feel qualified to talk about my strengths as a writer, but I think the one thing that really helps my writing process is the ability to switch off the inner editor and just get the words down on the page, for the first draft at least. I think I have NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month http://www.nanowrimo.org/) to thank for that!
Will you write others in this same genre? Yes, I definitely will. I love the idea of introducing an element of fantasy to ordinary, everyday people and events.
How important do you think villains are in a story? This is an interesting question. I think that conflict is necessary to make a story interesting and to make the reader really invest in the characters he or she is reading about. Villains are one way to achieve this conflict, but I don’t think they are the only way—internal conflict can be just as powerful. It really depends on the story.
Who is your favorite author? I don’t have one favourite author, but there are a number of authors whose books I have really enjoyed: Khaled Hosseini, Veronica Roth, Essie Fox, J.F. Penn, Gregory David Roberts, J.K. Rowling, Joanne Harris, and Sebastian Faulks (to name just a few).
Can we expect any more books from you in the future? Definitely. I am currently planning the second book in the Fateliner series and will hopefully get started on the first draft soon. I also have an idea brewing for a post-apocalyptic novel.
What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out? Without a doubt I would recommend Scrivener as an excellent tool for organising your work (and I’m not on commission!). It’s a great programme that allows you to keep all your research and writing in one place. I’d also recommend reading the blogs of other writers. Whether you intend to self-publish or go down the traditional route, you will find a huge amount of advice in blogs. The industry changes so quickly that learning new things and keeping up-to-date is imperative.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel? This might sound bizarre, but for me the biggest challenge in writing a novel was writing a complete story of 70,000 plus words! I started out as a short story writer, and there’s a huge difference between the two forms—not least the length. I had terrible pacing and plot issues initially, and had to learn a lot before I wrote something even slightly resembling a novel.
What do you do to unwind and relax? I love to cook, and for me preparing dinner at the end of the day is a great way to wind down. Other than that I read, and I also practice yoga.
Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? I wouldn’t want to include too much of my life or my friends in the plot of a book for fear that it would be too revealing, or friends might recognise themselves! Saying that, though, I think it’s okay to put elements of people you know in characters. Lily is a bit of a history geek, just like I am, but that’s where the similarities end.
Genre – Contemporary Fantasy
Rating – PG13
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