What lurks behind this mild mannered veterinarian’s exterior? Read on and find out…
If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
My earliest efforts were scribbled in school exercise books and heaven knows what became of them.
Skip forward thirty years to a school reunion and old friends asking me if I still write. I look bemused because a veterinary career and raising a family fill the gap that writing once occupied – but an idea is planted – that there’s no reason why I can’t start writing again.
Skip forward another year and I’m on holiday and see a plaque marking the birthplace of an infamous 19th century, female smuggler. My curiosity whetted I decide to find out more because her story has the makings of a great plot….
The rest, as they say, is history.
All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.
I write under a pen name – so the question is which is secret and which is the real me?
I use a pen name because I’m a veterinarian and need to separate my professional life from my persona as an author of historical romance. My day life as a vet is analytical and uses physical examinations, thorough history taking, test results and imaging to narrow down a list of differentials and reach a diagnosis and thereby decide the most appropriate course of treatment. My night-time identity closes her eyes and visualizes a different time and place, imagines the feel of satins and silks and lets go of conscious thought to let my fingers fly across the keyboard.
So which is my secret identity and which is the real me?
Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?
That would be my husband, sons and a small army of cats.
My family has the super power of encouragement, whilst the cats…they endow me with persistence – if I get up for a comfort break they’ll steal the warm seat –quite an incentive to stay put and write.
Where do you get your superpowers from?
Mostly, a good night’s sleep. I’m useless when tired.
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?
That would be my writing cave – which is actually an old leopard print sofa in the converted garage that doubles as our dining room. The sofa is long enough to accommodate me, a laptop, a stack of books and Widget – my writer’s cat. It’s an untidy room because it’s a dumping ground for shoes, post, spare cat biscuits, books and anything that needs to be put down in a hurry. That said, it has a nice big window and the light is good, so it’s a cheerful place to spend time.
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?
I’m an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction. I read history books a long time before I stared writing and still do (let’s face it, there’s no better excuse that ‘research’ to buy another book.) As to only using them for good – my mother might disagree with that statement. She finds the saucy nature of my historical romances really quite shocking….
Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?
I like to think of myself as a ‘Cat Woman’ – granted most people would think me more mad-cat-lady variety than Marvel character. Soooo- my super hero costume would involve ears, whiskers and a long swishy tail. Say no more!
What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?
Time – or lack of it!
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
I started writing as an outlet for the emotional strain of veterinary work. The enjoyment I have given others by sharing my work with them, is a happy by product. Over the years I’ve learnt that you can’t please all the people all the time and not to take criticism personally. One of the most important things I’ve learnt is not to be hurt by negative reviews, but to learn from the points raised to improve and create even better stories.
What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?
‘Firsts’ count for a lot.
My first publishing contract was a biggy – a remember dancing round the room and then texting my husband. Another big thrill was getting those first reviews in –fortunately reviewers loved my debut novel, A Dead Man’s Debt, and some were positively glowing – “Historical romance at its best” springs to mind. After that, reality hits in and my first really awful review still hurts – although with the benefit of hindsight and four years distance, I can now appreciate the opinions expressed without feeling too unhappy.
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
I can honestly say that each and every step has been necessary, in order to learn and grow as a writer. A Dead Man’s Debt was signed by a small publisher – as it turned out this was a bitter-sweet experience but what I learnt as a result gave me the confidence to take control and publish as an Indie. Each mistake, each slip up, each bad review, have all influenced me and helped me to grow…a process that will continue to my dying day. So no, I wouldn’t change anything because every bit of the process has been necessary.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.
Some writers are lucky and become bestsellers, others aren’t so lucky and very few people appreciate their work. A while ago I read a quote from a best-selling author (I can’t remember who) along the lines of:
“Perhaps it’s luck, but I’ve noticed the harder I work, the luckier I become.”
I rather like this quote – it gives me hope.
Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.
The Ringmaster’s Daughter is released on February 1st. This is #1 in a series of Georgian romances, with the common setting of Foxhall Pleasure Gardens. I wanted this series to be different and feature ordinary people who work for a living, rather than the traditional ‘lords and ladies’ historical romance. What I aim to do is create an absorbing romance with a page-turning plot and an evocative setting.
I write to escape the stresses of the modern world and my aim to invite the reader to join me on that escapist adventure and forget your cares by losing yourself in another time and place.
What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
The Ringmaster’s Daughter is #1 in the Foxhall series. I’ve used the setting of the Foxhall Pleasure Gardens to provide a common thread throughout the series. Book 2, The Cook’s Apprentice, is well under way and the plot for book 3 is taking shape in the corners of my mind – so it looks as if I’ll be spending a lot of time in the 18th century in future –if that makes sense.
You can find Grace at: