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Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions

Becoming a writer

  1. Why did you start writing?

    I've always loved reading, and I dabbled in poetry and short stories when I was younger. My creative side took a back-seat once I started working, until a fortuitous combination of events reignited my passion in the summer of 2012. I haven't looked back since.

  2. What do you like to write about?

    I love ghost stories and supernatural tales, so I suppose that's why I started there. I enjoy stories that make me think and consider the world differently, so I always try to find a different perspective to write from. Writing from a dog's point of view was easier than writing from a man's though! 

  3. When do you find time to write?

    It's easy to find time for something you love. I have to be quite disciplined, as I work full-time as a teacher, so I allocate time for school work and time for writing. Sometimes the muse makes me naughty though... but I would never let the "day-job" suffer. It's too important.

  4. Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?

    I think, legally, I'm supposed to say, "Of course not!" but I think we all know that's a fib. I've never recreated an entire person as a character, but I certainly do take inspiration from mannerisms, habits, quirks etc. It's a bit of an inside joke with my friends, too- I think they quite like it when I magpie parts of their personality!

  5. Where do you write?

    All my initial ideas are written in a beautiful journal that was given to me by a good friend. I carry it everywhere, and scribble whenever I get a chance. Sometimes it's just an observation, or random sentence that I like the sound of. All of my stories began as drafts in that journal. When it's time to type them up, I usually work in my recliner chair, feet up and mug of tea by my side, laptop balanced on a cushion. It's comfortable and I can look out of the window while my mind wanders. I often have to type with two dogs trying to sit on my lap... we've reached a compromise where Harvey lays on my legs and Alfie climbs up to sleep on my shoulder, like a parrot. I think he only sits there so he can read what I'm typing! I can't listen to music when I write- I need quiet, or I get distracted and sing instead of think!

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Late: a ghostly tale

  1. How much of the main character is based on you?

    A lot! I do talk to myself, I do take a breath and get on with unpleasant things and I do often work late. I have to add though, that I would never leave a school unlocked. In all honesty, I'd ring my boss- even if she laughed at me! 

  2. Where did you get the idea for Late?

    The school I worked in at the time had a dodgy catch on the main door. I became paranoid about checking that it was closed, especially when I was the only one there. It's been fixed now, but I began playing with the idea of my worst fears being realised- that someone else was in the building with me. It was only a short step to make that someone a spirit.

  3. Do you believe in ghosts?

    Absolutely. What the character sees in Late: a ghostly tale is actually something that has happened to me many times- and each time was terrifying. I don't know what they are, but they don't feel friendly. I'd like to see a friendly ghost one day!

  4. Why did you release an updated version of Late: a ghostly tale?

    The original version of Late was the subject of much discussion; everyone who read it had questions- what it was, why it was there, why it chose her, what happened next etc- which I loved, because readers were really involved in the story. I kept receiving requests for an update though, and even a few bribes for hints, until I realised that the mystery was genuinely too much for some people- they needed a definitive answer. I actually canvassed readers for their ideas before I added the next part of the story, and was impressed with the variety! I incorparated the best ideas into the original backstory that I had in my head, sent it out to a few betas, and finally republished the second edition in April 2013, six months after the first edition. I've also included the new version in Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions, as a bonus chapter. It was really fun to let readers have a say in how the story turned out, and it's something I'd like to try again one day.

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The Hungry-Man

  1. Who is the Hungry-Man?

    Harvey, the main character and narrator, labels people very simply, e.g. Mummy, Not-My-Mummy, Teeth-Lady etc. When he first encounters the man, he senses a hunger within him, although he doesn't know straight away what he is hungry for- that comes later. So, in his mind, the man is the Hungry-Man.

  2. Why is the story told from a dog's point of view?

    I find it easy to imagine how a dog would "speak", strange as that sounds, so I always had it in the back of my mind that I would write a story from Harvey's point of view. The idea of it being a ghost story came after he went through a phase of growling at a corner of the room. I wondered what he was protecting me from... and The Hungry-Man was born.

  3. What makes The Hungry-Man such a scary read?

    I think the fear and dread comes from the reader's engagement with Harvey, the dog (and hero). Pet-owners will recognise the odd behaviours as something their own dogs exhibit, so the events feel realistic. His love for his Mummy is true of the bond that exists between humans and animals, so his terror becomes theirs and, when he is in danger, it's as heart-wrenching as if it were their own pet putting himself in terrible peril to save them. My early beta-readers have gone so far as to say that certain parts of it made them cry- and even gave one nightmares!

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Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions

  1. Why "Strange Ideas"?

    Quite simply, because every story began from a strange idea that's popped into my head and refused to go away until I've explored it. Maybe I watch too many films, or read too many books, but I often find myself imagining bizarre events in everyday life. For example, sat on a bus, I will find myself sneaking glances at a stranger and wondering about them- what if they're on the run? What if they're a time-traveller? What if they're a ghost, and that's why no one else looks at them? I'm always asking "What if?" and sometimes it's so intriguing and so much fun that I have to write it down.

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