I'd been working on teenage girls' magazines - as a journalist and sub-editor - for a decade or so when I wrote a few short stories for 'Sugar' magazine (now 'Sugarscape' online). I loved doing fiction so much that I decided to have a go at writing a full-length book. Luckily, a publisher liked what I sent them and commissioned me to write my very first book. I spent the whole of that day skipping around the flat whooping!
My absolute favourite book is 'Catcher In The Rye' by JD Salinger, about a teenage boy having a lost weekend. It's funny, sad and brilliant. I first read it when I was about fourteen and I re-read it every few years.
My main office is my weeny back bedroom, but when I get restless I pack up my laptop and head to my second office; the cafe at the local garden centre! I'm such a regular there that the waitresses gave me a Christmas card.
I think I'm about to start working on my 74th book. All have been published, or are scheduled to be published in the coming year.
My characters and plots are always based in real life and there are always a million stories in real life. I just think of things people have told me, things I've heard, observed or read... ideas always come if you let your head become a sponge.
Oh, yes, but the trick is to change lots of their characteristics, so people don't recognise themselves. They may not be flattered with how you've 'used' them otherwise.
Absolutely. For example, 'Ally's World' is full of stories I pulled out of my teenage diaries.
I really loved writing this year's 'Life According To Alice B. Lovely' because it felt like I was writing a sort of updated, funked-up Mary Poppins, starring a 16-year-old childminder. And as Rowan Love is one of my favourite characters, I'd have to say 'The Raspberry Rules' is a big favourite too.
I'm a mix of everyone in 'Ally's World' (funny worrier Ally, retro queen Rowan, animal freak Tor and organiser Linn), though I didn't grow up in a house like Ally's. I lived with my parents in multi-stroey block of flats, with no pets allowed. Boo!
I'd go and hang out in the sunshine of Sugar Bay with Stella Etc, and explore the mysterious, ruined Joseph's House.
Keep a notebook in your bag at all times, and scribble random notes to yourself whenever you see, hear or think of something interesting.
My next novel is out in the late spring and is called 'The Year of Big Dreams'. The heroine has a mum who looks suspiciously like Amy Winehouse!
It's a pleasure!
Later this week there is the 'A Sea of Stars' by Kate Maryon review and a Christmas Book Haul(My very first-so I hope you enjoy it!). As New Year approaches I will also be posting about what I'm looking forward to in the next year.