When did you first feel like a writer?
The first time I really felt like a writer was in 2017 after completing module, ‘Communities in Practice,’ as part of my MA creative writing course. For this unit I spent time as Poet in Residence at my local Victorian park and part of the remit agreed was to research the Victorian family who lived there and create a fictional timeline. The other part was to conduct a series of poetry workshops for beginners. It was only after I completed this module that I gained enough confidence to say out loud: ‘I am a writer’ and believe in it.
What’s the most interesting thing that has inspired your writing and what was the result?
This would have to be my love of trees, particularly old ones. Why? Because I find them so interesting, having been around for centuries, sometimes thousands of years, they have so many stories to tell. For my MA creative writing dissertation my project was researching myths around trees. The result was Taxus Baccata (2020) my first poetry pamphlet becoming a shared winner for The White Label Poetry Pamphlet Competition – Deux with The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Since Taxus Baccata four more poetry pamphlets have been published with this fabulous press.
Paint us a picture: what does your writing process look like? Do you write in coffee shops at night or only on an old type-writer?
I’m definitely not a coffee shop writer and thankfully I don’t have to work on an old type-writer. As a secretary in my younger days, I’m able to say ‘give me a PC any day.’ On a PC you can move words around with ease and if a typo’s made it’s easy to correct.
What I am is a writer who likes to work in my study and on my computer with Classical FM coming from the speakers. However, my poetry begins in a notebook (which I can do anywhere) and it’s only after I’ve worked out the initial framework that it’s transferred to the PC to begin the layering and editing process.
Describe your ideal reader: who would your work speak to?
Because I’m a novelist as well as a poet/short story writer, I have two ideal readers. The first for my novels is someone who adores family saga and romance whereas my poetry reader loves nature imagistic writing with the added touch of myth and folklore.
Who’s an author you’ve changed your mind about and why?
This one has to be Rebecca Du Maurier. Around ten years ago I struggled with Du Maurier’s Rebecca but later realised it was nothing to do with the author’s writing but my headspace at the time. Having a friend who is Du Maurier’s biggest fan influenced me to revisit Rebecca Du Maurier and discover my friend was right. Rebecca Du Maurier is a brilliant author and to think I could have missed out on this wonderful craftmanship.
If you could interview any other writer/artist, who would it be and why?
I think that would be Margaret Atwood because she is a fabulous writer and I’m sure she has many writing tips to share.
What motivates you to keep writing?
For me it is more that writing keeps me motivated. Without writing I become lethargic and depressed. I need that escape where I can lose myself in words and become anyone or anything I like, and travel wherever I’d like to be.
How do you deal with writer’s block or being overwhelmed by the writing process?
I’m lucky in so much as that I never get writers’ block. If anything, I have writers’ overload and often get frustrated due to lack of time. Perhaps I don’t get writers’ block or overwhelmed because I always have more than one project on the go. Therefore, if I get stuck on one thing then I move to working on something else. I also find doing critique or developmental editing on other writers’ work first thing in the day warms me up for my own writing.
Where would you like to see yourself in a decade? A creative writing teacher? As a best-seller?
I’m hoping I’ll still be around in a decade and if I am that I’ll have written lots more novels, (I’ve written five so far) and more poetry collections. I’m not looking to be a creative writing teacher. The closest I came to this was as an online poetry tutor for Writers’ Bureau which I gave up shortly after reaching retirement age. A best seller? Well one can always hope.
What has your work taught you about yourself?
That if you are willing to learn, put in the graft, not precious about your writing and don’t fear rejection –success will come.