How did your commitment to writing start?
I think my earliest memories are of being an avid reader. I was always encouraged to read and reading was seen as a good thing.
I was always attracted to art and I would paint and draw and when I started to read properly around the age of 7, I remember thinking that I might move in that direction, reading and writing. I can remember saying in P4 that when I grew up I would like to be an author and an artist but generally life always brought me back to reading and writing.
Were you encouraged in your interests at school?
I was more encouraged at home. While our house may not have had a lot of books when I got into reading I would wait for the library van to come around my local area and I got a library card and was able to get books from there.
Was there a lot of a material available that was appropriate for your age?
I remember reading Fudge by Judy Bloom, and for Christmas I would get given books by that author. I read the Twits and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl was an author that I liked reading. And from there we would just get more books at Christmas and for birthdays.
Did you start writing at that time as well?
I think I was writing poetry at that stage. At least that is what I seem to remember.
And support was mainly coming from home?
Yes as far as I remember. I might have picked up books at school and I might have been really enthused when the teacher was reading books at school. I certainly felt that reading was a transformative experience and I think books by Enid Blyton and authors like that might have played a role in my enthusiasm for books.
Do you go on from there; do English Literature or something like that?
I did do an A level in English Literature. I studied architecture for a brief time at University and that wasn’t for me so I went into a more educational direction.
I worked in caring jobs and I worked with people experiencing learning difficulties for some time
And 2012 was a turning point?
In my late teens and in my early twenties I was writing poetry and plays and I was getting good feedback on my writing at that point. However I didn’t go on with things and after that I had my family.
I have 4 children, and my eldest child has severe autism, and I needed to find a way to be able to look after her. I found myself needing to be at home and I had been thinking about writing a novel and that started to take me in a particular direction. At some point after attending classes on creative writing I decided to make that happen.
What happens then?
I researched online about how to go about writing a novel, how to put together a draft, how you go about structuring a book, and I came across a course at Ards Arts Centre. It was a Creative Writing course and I wasn’t sure about it but I went along and I am so glad I did. I met people who were also writing, I found people who were interested in going along to events with me and I really got the bug then. I stayed at that course for over a year and a half. I would go along to Saturday workshops and I would read blogs as well.
Eventually the person who was taking the course suggested to the group that we should submit our work to journals and I did that but I also went about setting up The Incubator, my own journal.
How did you go about getting published?
Firstly I think it is important if you are serious about writing then find a workshop to be part of. I certainly found that I learnt a lot at the workshops I attended.
When it came to publishing I have had three books published through the traditional route of a publishing organisation; Lapwing and Liberties Press and later Doire Press.
What happened after that?
I wanted to write a series of books which would be based on a specific character and in the genre of crime fiction. I had been going along to Crime Fiction festivals and immersing myself in the genre. Because I had 4 books in mind for the DI Sloane series, and while I think I was close to being published a couple of times, in the end I decided to do it myself. I might really have a hybrid approach, sometimes I go through the traditional route but for the Crime Fiction books, they will be self-published.
Part two of this interview is here