Do you prefer ebooks, printed books, or audiobooks most of the time?
I’d say I am a 50/50 split between printed books and ebooks – I don’t listen to audio books at all, although my husband is a huge fan. I mostly read printed books in bed, but my Kindle is my constant companion when I’m walking the dog (seriously!) and in the bath.
Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?
I would only write under a pseudonym if I was writing something completely different than my current work – I have jumped back and forth from contemporary romance, romantic suspense and historical romance under Rachel Brimble and it has worked out well.
I am currently studying for a history degree with a plan to write non-fiction in the future – I will definitely write those books under a different name.
How did you come up with the title for Victoria & Violet?
Coming up with titles is one of my pet-peeves because I’m not very good at it! Fortunately, my editors have come up with the titles for the majority of my books, but Victoria & Violet was my idea. I set out with a Royal series in mind and having each title include the name of the monarch or consort I am writing about joined with the name of her maid. That meant things were fairly straight forward for me and the reader!
How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?
I read them and then park them – I am not an author who lingers over negative reviews because I know they are just one person’s opinion. As a writer, you are never going to write a book that everyone loves, and you have to accept that some people feel compelled to make their views known…however bad. I personally remember the saying ‘if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all’.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Up until the beginning of 2022, I wrote two books a year so about six months – then I started my history degree in January and my writing output has somewhat declined. I think for the next few years I will probably manage 1-1 ½ books a year.
If you could be mentored by a famous author, who would it be?
For discipline, output and plotlines, it would have to be my absolute favourite contemporary romance author Nora Roberts. I just adore her work and her amazing ability to come up with such fantastic plots over and over again. For historical work, it would have to be Philippa Gregory or Alison Weir. I just love how they immerse the reader in the lives of real people and make them believe that they are walking alongside them although they have been gone for hundreds of years.
What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
Enjoy every moment! Writing should be a joy to you. Something that makes the time go by in a blink of eye. Why? Because it is incredibly hard work and takes commitment and discipline – to me, writing one book is just the beginning and it will be the same for an editor. As soon as you sell one book, they will ask what is coming next…and hold you to a deadline, which changes everything!
Enjoy what you are writing, do all you can to make your characters believable and relatable and create a plotline that holds attention and provokes emotion. That’s the best advice I can give you.
What book (or books) are you currently reading?
The current printed book I am reading is Into The Wilderness by Sara Donati, which was recommended to me by a local librarian because I mentioned how much I love the Outlander series – In The Wilderness is absolutely transporting and I will definitely be going on to follow the series.
On my kindle, I have just started The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh – I picked this up because the title intrigued me, and I am a huge Tudor nut! I will let you know how I get on 😊
What part of Victoria & Violet did you have the hardest time writing?
It was the same part as with all my books – the middle! My books are around 90,000 words and even after writing 29 novels, I still hit the 40-45,000 mark and grind to a halt. It was no different with Victoria & Violet even though I had quite a comprehensive plotline written. I really struggle for about 20,000 words and then I’m off again!
What part of the book was the most fun to write?
Oh, every scene with Victoria! It has been a long-held ambition of mine to include real characters and events along with the fictional in a novel and I finally managed it with Victoria & Violet. I loved researching Queen Victoria when she was a young monarch. She was beautiful, full of fun and romance which I used throughout the pages of my novel – I hope my enjoyment writing her scenes comes across on the pages!