Find out why she writes thrillers, how the Seventeen series was born, her advice to writers, and much more, including one of her secret passions.
I had written an essay for my English class (when she was 11 or 12 years old) which my father thoroughly disapproved of and I was so annoyed with him, so I went and wrote more. [The] essay was about a group of children that go guava picking and come across a bear, and it was actually a bear that had escaped from a visiting Russian circus.
So my father’s argument was that no Russian circus would ever visit Mauritius, and there were no bears in Russia. And I was like no, a circus could visit Mauritius one day and they could bring a bear with them. I kept saying to him, it’s called creative writing for a reason. So we agreed to disagree and I carried on writing.
My writing ritual is to always have hot drinks, normally coffee as the first drink, and I always have music. I make book specific playlists, even before I start writing…I put the playlists together and that’s the music I will listen to while I am writing, and I will always have it on constant replay.
The other ritual, which I am trying to get into the habit of, is using a timer when I am writing—to try and get myself focused. Planning what I need to write and saying to myself, ok this is what you need to write you’ve got 40 or 45 minutes to do it.
I try not to call it block, because I think it’s a word that makes it more difficult to overcome the problem. And to me the problem is that you are stuck in the plot somewhere.
What I do is figure out where I went wrong in the story, because that is usually the reason. A lot of the time all it takes is rewriting a few scenes to get the story going again.
But worst case scenario, if can’t get the story going, which happens very rarely, I do not stare at the blank screen. I find that’s highly unproductive and gets very frustrating. What I do is I take time out from my work, switch the computer off and go do something different. Usually by the time I come back to the computer, I have got the angle again.
I look for inspiration in my dreams a lot, I think my muse comes to talk to me when I am sleeping. I also look for inspiration in my research, I do a lot of research for these series.
There are events that I would never had known about, if I had not done the research for the series. One of the most intriguing [things I found about] was how the UK was formed, and there’s a big element of that in the first chapter of Green’s Calling, and with the immortals being directly involved with the creation of the UK.
Or I’ll mind map what I am going to, who the story is going to be about. When I start the process I know what the first words of my ebook are going to be, what the last scene is going to be and what the big scenes in the middle are going to be. And once I start that process, all that goes on in the back of mind, and I can see what’s happening in the ebook and I can feel what the characters are saying.
My number one favourite place to read and write is the beach. Particularly to read, I tend to do most of my reading on holidays these days, because that is pure reading time and I don’t have to feel guilty that I am not writing at that time.
The second place that I love reading and writing is my study. I have set up my study quite well with a treadmill desk and a sit down desk and I have also got a chaise lounge in my study, which is just perfect on rainy days just to curl up with a blanket and a book.
I love reading action thrillers, even before I started writing action thrillers. A little bit of crime, a little bit of mystery, a lot of fantasy and sci-fi as well. And my biggest admission is the stuff I have gotten passionate about in the last few years, is manga. Japanese manga and Korean manhwa .
I fell into thrillers because of a story I wrote for the British Fantasy Competition.
The story ended up taking life and becoming an action thriller and it made the top five of that competition and at the end of it, I thought I want to know what happens to these guys, and I think this can be a book and I just carried on writing it.
And it was interesting to write, because I never thought I could write action thrillers and I have now written four digital books and six short stories.
The whole idea for the Seventeen series and how it started, and the first book Soul Meaning came from the number 17. I had travelled to Mauritius on holiday and went to one of the smaller islands off the main island—and the boat went past this one particular tree and someone had written the number 17 in red paint on it, and it was dripping as it dried, and it looked like blood.
It was an incredibly arresting image, and I put that in my ideas notebook.
When I was looking for an idea for the short story competition and I opened up my notebook filled with random ideas of what I could write about, and that jumped out at me straight away.
So then I had to sit down and think, what am I going to write about the number 17, that’s going to be incredibly original.
And then I thought why don’t I write about death and somebody that can die up to 17 times. And that’s where it started. It started with that concept.
And literally within minutes the main character walked into my head and he said the first sentence of the series ever, which is “My name is Lucas Soul and today I died again. This is my fifteenth death in the last 450 years.”
I think what’s very intriguing about writing about immortals and basic questions that are asked are what would you do if you had 17 lives to live?
Would you be a better person?
Would you grow?
Would you accumulate, wealth, knowledge experience?
So from that personal point of view that’s quite intriguing about writing about [being] immortal
The other fascinating thing about writing about immortals is the ability to blend history into a modern story. That’s something I have really enjoyed doing. The ability to go back into real human history, and then putting an immortal twist to it and getting immortals to be involved has been fascinating.
The fact that I am such a manga and anime lover would surprise them a lot, people don’t expect that when they look at me.
I am a complete geek, I love gadgets. If I went out shopping and I rarely do, I will gravitate to the gadget section of the store before I go anywhere else. I am more excited looking at gadgets than I am about clothes and shoes.
The most important piece of advice I could give is to do your research about the writing and the publishing industry.
Always do research. You will come across lots of opinions, do what feels right for you, don’t just go with the flow. You will make mistakes along the way, everybody does, don’t dwell on those mistakes. Get over it. Learn from it. Always, always learn from your mistakes, and try and do better the next time.