I write contemporary romance with plenty of humour – “stories to add sparkle to your life”. Well, hopefully. I write the books I want to read. I like heroines who aren’t perfect, make mistakes, have a laugh, pick themselves up when life lets them down, and get on with it. My motto is, “when life gives you lemons, chuck the lemons in the bin and buy a big fat cream cake”, and I think that would be the motto of my female characters, too! My heroes aren’t always conventionally gorgeous (although sometimes, they definitely are!) but they always put the woman in their lives first, even if she drives them up the wall! I always fall in love with them. Luckily, so do my heroines – which is convenient because they would be pretty dismal love stories if they didn’t.
I’ve written pocket novels and a short story for The People’s Friend, and have sold two books to Ulverscroft, which have/will be published as part of their Linford Romance Library large print series. This means I’ve fulfilled my long-held ambition to have my books in both WH Smith and libraries! Result!
I’m a lady of a certain age, which could mean anything, really, and I’m saying nothing more, except I have grown-up children and several young grandchildren. I live with my very patient husband and our German Shepherd dog, in Hull, East Yorkshire. I have a rampant sweet tooth, which is the bane of my life, but I’m learning to curb it with the help of WeightWatchers (other diet plans and clubs are available). I absolutely love Doctor Who. I’m a trifle passionate about Sherlock, Poldark, Outlander, and The Musketeers. I’m shamefully prone to crushes on fictional heroes (see previous sentence), and writing the word trifle made me hungry.
I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and through the RNA I met the group of lovely writers, The Write Romantics, who very kindly asked me to join their ranks a few years ago. You can find out about The Write Romantics here.
I’ve been researching the family tree for a few years, and have made some fascinating discoveries, including a Prussian great-great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side, and Irish immigrants escaping the famine on my dad’s side. I also discovered a distant Kearton ancestor who lived on St Vincent, and learned that on the island there is a Keartons Bay. You can look it up here. I had no idea about that when I created Kearton Bay, honestly! Nowadays, I just don’t have the spare time to continue with my research, so I’ve passed the whole lot onto my son, and hopefully he’ll unearth more fascinating facts. I used some of the surnames on my family tree for many of my characters. It’s just a small tribute to all those who came before me.
My favourite film is It’s a Wonderful Life. There’s just something about it that gets me every time. Funnily enough, I prefer to watch the black and white version. The colour edition just doesn’t have the same feeling to it. George Bailey is a real hero, and no, it’s not a coincidence that the hero of my first book, There Must Be an Angel, is called Gabriel Bailey. “George Bailey, I’ll love you ’til the day I die…” *sigh*
My favourite books? Hmm…When I was very young, it was anything by Enid Blyton. I still have loads of her books. Did I mention I’m a bit of a hoarder? (Only with books, though.) I progressed through to pony books (ahem, yes, I do still have loads of those, too), then on to my first adult writer, Catherine Cookson. I may just have a few of her novels lying around, also. Oops. I love Sue Townsend’s novels. I think Adrian Mole is a work of genius, and whenever anyone asks me which book I wish I’d written, that’s my answer – although, strictly speaking, it’s a whole series of books rather than just one, but it’s my wish so I can have what I like. I read romantic comedies, obviously, but I’m not naming any favourites because I chat to a lot of lovely writers on Facebook and I couldn’t possibly leave anyone out.
I did a degree in literature with the Open University (fabulous institution, fabulous course, highly recommended!) and learned to love Shakespeare, as well as developing a passion for the nineteenth-century novel. Who would ever have thought that Madame Bovary and Middlemarch would be so interesting? Not me, but they were. And Shakespeare’s sonnets are things of rare beauty. I would love to study with the OU again. Maybe one day…On the other hand, I love the spooky, gripping stories of Phil Rickman, the jolly romps of Jilly Cooper, and the wacky but intriguing tales of Dan Brown.
Being a Yorkshire lass, I’m clearly biased when I say I think Yorkshire is stunningly beautiful, but nevertheless it’s true. My Kearton ancestors came from Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales, and I have based Skimmerdale on that area, but I also love other parts of the Dales, too, and we often head out on a sunny day to visit Middleham Castle and call in for a cup of tea at Masham. For a shorter trip we head to pretty Knaresborough, or ancient York, or the North Yorkshire coast or moors, or the gorgeous rolling Wolds, or the flat plains of Holderness … Yorkshire is nothing if not diverse. (Other counties are available, and many of them are pretty fabulous, too. I love Cornwall so much that I got married there, but please don’t hold that against me!)
I love stately homes, and ancient ruins of castles and abbeys – particular favourites are Burton Agnes Hall, Tintagel Castle, Scarborough Castle, Rievaulx Abbey and Whitby Abbey. I’m a member of English Heritage and would happily spend my life ticking each of their properties off my “to-see” list. If only I had more time!
Most of my time, these days, is spent writing, or in writing-related pursuits. Sometimes, it seems as if I have no chance to do anything else. When I’m tired or stressed, I do think to myself, is this really worth it? Then an idea for a scene, or a new character, or an intriguing title pops into my mind and I’m off again, all my doubts forgotten.
There’s no better job – that’s the truth of it. As Charlotte Bronte, the author of my all-time favourite novel, Jane Eyre, said so beautifully: