Tell us about your recent Riptide release. What was the inspiration behind it?
It was kind of a sudden thing. I was walking to work one morning and this sudden story idea hit me of two guys hooking up, only to discover when one of them arrives at the other’s family home the next day that they are actually stepbrothers who have never met. I was struck by the idea of a guy with a good stepdad discovering that his stepdad has been an awful father to his natural son, and of the other son discovering that his father has enjoyed a healthy relationship with someone he is not even related to. I’d been interested in the idea of writing about parental abandonment for a while--especially the impact it has both on the abandoned child and on the abandoning parent--and this set up felt like an interesting way to look at those issues.
What can readers expect when they read a story from you? What would you like potential readers to know about you and your books?
First and foremost, I try to bring genuine emotion to my books--something that feels real and authentic. I also try to knit that emotion together with the sex scenes in my books in a meaningful way. I don’t write sex-heavy books, but the sex scenes I do write are vital and emotionally meaningful. That’s what I love, as a romance reader.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself while writing your latest release?
I learned that, as well as teaching my kid things, I can learn things from him (the ukelele). Thist maybe needs a little explanation...
A thread that runs through the book is a Christmas song that Derek (the dad) wrote in the 1980s. There’s a pivotal scene in the book involving that song and I decided I had to know what it sounded like before I could write that scene. So I wrote all the words of the song and a tune for it too--with the help of my son and his ukelele :-)
How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies a lot depending on what else is happening in my life. My day job is pretty demanding and I have two kids so sometimes my time is really limited. On average I probably write 1.5 novels a year, though I tend to find I’ll be releasing several things over a few months then nothing for ages. I have a discipline, when I’m in writing mode, of trying to write at least 500 words a day. That’s such a small number of words that, even if I only start at 11pm (which happens a lot) that pretty much always feels do-able, and once I’m going, I’ll often exceed the 500 word goal. It’s amazing how the wordcount mounts up. I do have long stretches where I’m not writing though, to deal with revises or other writing admin. In fact, I’ve barely written a word for the last 3 months.
Describe your workspace.
I don’t really have one. I write wherever I happen to be with my laptop on my knee. Mostly, I sit in the living room en famille, on an armchair that has no sightline to the TV and put up with being distracted… cos I like being wiv ma boys.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do to cure it?
Yes, of course. It’s normal, I think. I felt quite blocked recently, but just the other day, I felt a strong urge to write again and sat down and wrote a whole chapter and it felt great. I’m lucky in that writing is not my job. I have another job that pays the bills so, if I’m blocked, I don’t feel financially pressured.
What can readers expect from you in the future?
Historical werewolves! I’m currently writing a pair of books (which I privately call Project Two). The first book is set in 18th century Edinburgh and the second in 19th century Edinburgh. Right now, I’m massively in love with it. There are a couple of other projects in the works for next year--a novella about Kit Redford (from the Enlightenment world) and hopefully a Christmas-themed sequel to Introducing Mr. Winterbourne--but right now, those are waiting in the wings. I’m working on Two while the hunger is there.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Nothing is important but life. And for myself, I can absolutely see life nowhere but in the living. Life with a capital L is only man alive. Even a cabbage in the rain is cabbage alive. All things that are alive are amazing. And all things that are dead are subsidiary to the living. Better a live dog than a dead lion…. The novel is the one bright book of life. Books are not life. They are only tremulations on the ether. But the novel as a tremulation can make the whole man alive tremble. ”
Why the Novel Matters, DH Lawrence