Here's the transcript of an interview I did with the New Zealand based bookshop 'Writer's Plot Reader's Read', an incredible independent bookshop which only stocks work by New Zealand authors.
What’s your favourite type of takeaway?
Indian. Butter Chicken. The bastardised NZ version, with a plain naan bread and rice.
Describe your current mental status.
Grieving. This year I’ve lost one girlfriend to Singapore, one to Tauranga, and now one to Perth. All due to job availability. I’m in need of more friends…
I know how I do what I do … but how do you do what you do?
Through the life giving strength of coffee and wine, although not at the same time.
Could you tell us a little bit about your latest work?
The one I’ve just finished, or the one I’m half way through? The one I’ve just finished is the sequel to my first historical fiction novel, ‘Fifteen Postcards’. Titled ‘The Last Letter’, it’s due for publication on the 1st November, which is also my birthday. So I thought everyone could buy a copy in honour of my birthday…
Do you have a favourite coffee or tea?
There are different coffees? Seriously, I’ll drink almost any version of coffee presented to me. When it comes to tea, I am a little more picky - English Breakfast first, usually Twining's. Followed by Earl Grey (but only if nothing else is available). I’ll drink peppermint tea, which is okay, but I don’t seek it out.
Walk us through a typical day. (Do you make sure you’re wearing your lucky underpants before you sit down to write, perhaps you prefer commando? While we’re discussing your underpants, boxers, briefs, or budgie smugglers. Inquiring minds want to know. Yes, that includes my Admins… we don’t piss off the Admins.)
Underpants must match your bra (or at least that was the case before I had children. Now I’m lucky if my bra is clean…).
A typical day is wake up, drink coffee, make breakfasts, make lunches, tell everyone to hurry up, walk them to school, walk home, drink more coffee, think about writing, faff about on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, read the NZHerald online, faff about on social media some more, kid myself that I’m making connections, make another coffee, make lunch, see that its 2pm, start writing, get into a great writing groove, bash out 500 or so words, then pick up the children from school, forget what my train of thought was, feed children, take them to their after school activities, come home, drink wine, make dinner, put children to bed, faff about on social media, at about 10pm find the motivation to start writing, write about 300 great words, then realise I have to get up in seven hours, so go to bed, and lose train of thought again…rinse and repeat.
Tell us about your main character.
I first met Sarah Lester when I was at work in the family antique shop. Oddly, she’s a little bit like me. Although one reviewer described her as a ‘bubble-head’. I was hurt at first, but actually I’ve embraced that side of her in my writing, and I think the reviewer did me a favour by calling me out on that. I like that she misses her Dad so much. I miss mine desperately, and have everyday since he died suddenly ten years ago of heart failure. Through her pleas to her father, I’m really releasing my own dreams for my father to come back.
Who are your favourite writers?
Edward Rutherfurd, he of the massive multigenerational tomes such as London, Paris, Russka, Sarum.
George R.R. Martin - for his utterly amazing character development, and his descriptive passages.
Deborah Harkness. It was reading her Old Souls trilogy which encouraged me to write.
Who inspires you to do better?
My brother, who in the beginning said I never finish anything, when I told him I was going to write a book…well I’ve finished two books now, signed two publishing contracts, and I am half way through my third one! My husband was all good with my quitting my job, and my children (mostly) leave me to do my writing after I’ve begged time to write “just two hundred more words”.
Do you ever put pants on your dog, cat, or budgie?
We have a fancy Santa suit which we try to dress the cat up in every year. She hates Christmas…
Describe your perfect day
Late sleep in. Breakfast in bed. Move from bed to outside in the summer’s sunshine, with a book, a guava juice, then a dip in the pool, cocktails by the pool, a dinner cooked by someone other than me. Did I mention the wine with dinner?
Who is your favourite fictitious villain? Or are you all about the hero? Who do you love to hate?
I like the cunning of Moriarty. The droll delivery of Professor Snape. And the creepy evilness of Hannibal Lector - where you can’t help but actually like the guy…
Do you have any quirks?
I am an eye roller…got me in plenty of trouble at work. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. Stupid people deserve a gratuitous eye roll…I must work harder at controlling this.
All-time favourite movie and why?
Midnight in Paris. 1/ It’s Paris. 2/ It has the best actors playing some of the best authors and artists history ever gave us. 3/ The soundtrack - I’m listening to it now as I type this.
Do you enjoy the editing process?
Actually yes. I find it easier than the writing of the initial story.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
New Zealand seems pretty safe to be honest. And progressive. And clean. And I have travelled a lot. I’d prefer to live by the beach than in central Auckland, but that’ll come in the future.
Favorite Pizza topping?
Pepperoni. But we have started buying the three cheese pizza, which is fast becoming my favourite.
What were you before you became a writer?
Writing is my third career. I was a Customs Officer for fourteen years, before my father died. After that, my brother and I both quit our jobs to run the family antique business, which we did for ten years. Now he owns it. And I write full time.
What is the most random thing you have ever done?
Went on an archaeological dig at Vindolanda in Northumberland in England for two weeks. Two of the best weeks of my life. I loved every shovel full of dirt I moved. And I’ll be putting my name down for another go next year.
If you’re not working, what are you most likely doing?
Volunteering on the PTA. For my sins, I am the chairperson. The PTA is not for the faint of heart I can assure you. I have made some wonderful wonderful friends, but it is a lot of work.
Who is your ultimate character?
Arya Stark in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones books. She just gets on with it, and doesn’t wither away in the dark.
Whiskey or Bourbon? Red or white wine? Tequila? Beer?
A whiskey liqueur - Glayva. Any wine…usually I’d prefer a Pinot Gris or a Riesling for a white wine, and then an Otago Pinot Noir for my red. Never tequila, nor beer.
What’s in your pockets? (Or handbag, whatever you carry your stuff in. Are you apocalypse prepared?)
I have a small country in my handbag. I have two children…
Laptop, PC, Mac, tablet?
Ebook or tree book?
Any book. I have a Kindle. But I also have a stack of library books, and books from friends, old favourites.
Favorite apocalyptic scenario?
The Hunger Games scenario seems to be the most likely scenario to descend upon earth sadly…
Where do you do most of your writing?
At the dining room table. I have an office, but theres a better view from the dining room. Which is also closer to the kettle.
What’s the hardest thing for you when it comes to being an author?
Singing my own praises. We have a saying in our house, “be more American”. American’s don’t seem to have any problem singing their own praises. In New Zealand we are all far too scared to being tall poppies and being cut down by our peers.
Note: This interview was first published on the Writer's Plot Reader's Read website on 13th October 2016.