Hi Guys

First of all, a massive thanks to those of you who have been regularly visiting this site in spite of my long, enforced absence - I am sorry that I have neglected this site for a while but that has been due to unavoidable circumstances.

Unfortunately I have had so much going on with coursework and other commitments that at one point I almost had to make an appointment with myself to breathe! :-)

Seriously, with luck, those hectic, stressful days are behind me for a while and I'm able to work on other, more enjoyable aspects of my life - like my writing and updating this website.

Those of you who have followed my blogs may remember me mentioning a wonderful new writer - Michael Rowland.  I have now added two reviews of his wonderful book, Leap Year, to this site.  If you haven't already bought his book, do so.  It is well worth the money!

As far as the writing is going, there is some very exciting news in the offing.  I will keep you updated as often as I can - suffice to say for now that I'm having to work flat out to write 3 books ... one of which I'm very excited about because the character has kind of taken on a life of her own.  The last time this happened was when I wrote The Wishing Tree.  I love this situation because the book virtually writes itself.  

Those of you who are writers will understand what I mean when I say that a character has become a person in her own right.  So many strange things have occurred around this book that I know I'm meant to write it.  For a start, the characters' name is completely off the wall for me.  Until this book, all the characters I've had have been named Elizabeth (or one of it's variations), Sally, Sarah, Christine, Justine ... suddenly, from out of left field, I get a character called Shannon!  Completely different type of name ... her looks are very different too - long, heart shaped face, wide open brow, grey eyes (very, very pretty) and FIERY RED hair, straightened and down her back ... in complete variance with my usual description of blonde, blue eyes, pretty...  What was also surprising was I was in class (finished my course now) and my tutor revealed she is running a course at the end of the month - about the exact subject my novel is about! :-)  I could go on - basically it's a string of coincidences.  

Someone recently asked me where I get my ideas from.  Well, I'm insatiably nosey and, I confess, I do watch out for unusual things while I'm out.  I'm looking for something that will hook me and make me wonder about the story behind either what I'm seeing, or the conversation/comment I've overheard.  Very often, there is no need for me to relate the conversation because it is just the seed - at other times it may be something juicy so it will find its way, in a vastly altered form, into the story (bear in mind that 99% of what I write is for children!)  I love old buildings, castles, or strange, tiny ones (I passed a miniature house while on a trip to Oxford a while ago and that gave me a few ideas too).

I also keep a journal - when I got my first book commissioned I looked through the  old journals until I got a spark of an idea - an isolated incident gave me a great starting point for the central story and it was a simple matter to build the rest around that - I doubt I would have remembered that incident if I hadn't written it in my journal.

Another thing that I love is listening to older people's life stories.  They are so interesting and can tell you some remarkable tales of courage and tenacity in the terrible "olden days".  Listening to their stories can give you a real flavour of what life was like back in the 30's, 40's and 50's - the days before life became easier with computers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners.  Our parents and certainly our grandparents never had the internet to do their homework on.  If they wanted to find information for their homework they had to go to the library and trawl through the encyclopaedias, history books and other informative tomes.  Today if a child wants to know about the War of the Roses they simply ask Google or Jeeves!  It's shocking to think that now a child can get an essay written for him by someone else who has a speciality in the subject, instead of having to do the work himself.  I will say at this point that I do NOT agree with this practice, merely that I am aware of its existence (I applied for a job and was told this was what I would be doing, which is why I mentioned it here).  

I will often sit, transfixed, as an older person tells me what life was like at school - how different everything was and how they were taught.  To think that they had to spend hours handwriting their essays for school, and how they had to work hard because they were afraid of or in awe of their teachers.  I'm always shocked when I go into a senior school today and find children are allowed to listen to their ipods and have their phones on during lessons.  When did children take over society?  That's another story!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that inspiration surrounds us, you just have to look for it.  

Next time I will take a look a the importance of atmosphere in a book, and how the choice of words the author uses can transform a beautiful scene into a terrifying one or vice versa.

Feel free to poke around the site and have a browse through the various sections. This site is constantly being updated so you may come across some new and exciting things over the next few months.

Until then, take care and feel free to contact me with anything you want added to this site (or covering in the blog), any success stories or indeed any comments (you can contact me by leaving me a message on the contact page and I will get back to you). 

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