What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for a book?
There have been so many things over the years – I remember going and buying a dead rabbit so that I could be sure of describing skinning it properly. (The butcher obviously thought I was pretty weird.) I’m not sure you would say a lot of the research is weird but it’s often very specific and technical. I had to research very carefully into the working of narrowboats in the old days to be able to write two books about it. Because Birmingham has been a city with such a variety of industries there are many things I wish I could research more easily – so many of them disappeared long ago.
When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
I definitely let them develop. At the beginning I have some idea who they are but things do change as I go through the story. It’s really only once I get to the end of a first draft that I start to get a much fuller sense of who they are and can go back and edit, really working with them. Story and character are very closely bound together.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the beginning of your writing/publishing journey?
I would certainly have been very surprised to learn that I would still be carrying on my writing career 30 years later! I suppose it might have been nice to know but on the other hand, it’s good for life to be surprising as well.
If you had to write yourself as a heroine, what kind of heroine would you be? What would you be named?
Definitely not someone floating about in a silk dress. I’d like to be a traveler, adventurer type – a bit ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ or one of those Victorian explorers like Mary Kingsley who went to Cameroon and was whacking crocodiles with an oar to keep them out of her boat. Only she was real, obviously and I’m certainly not brave enough for that sort of reality!
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Honestly I’m not sure I have one. I obviously need to become more interesting!
What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date?
I have a new book coming out in paperback in April called Black Country Orphan. And just now I’m working on two more stories set around the much loved Cadburys chocolate factory in World War two. I have written about it before and this time I have chosen a new set of characters. The first book, Chocolate Girls is to be re-issued in December with a brand new cover – and I think Secrets of the Chocolate Girls may appear in April 2022…