The short version…
I’m a British fantasy writer, currently working on my first novel, and I’m represented by the John Jarrold Literary Agency.
I have also been known to cook, bake, make jewellery, draw, rock climb and sword fight, but not all at once.
The long version…
My love of fantasy started from a very young age. I think I was around four years old when my Dad ‘read’ me The Lord of the Rings. This involved him sitting with the books held open, telling me the story in a very much abridged way. When I was a little older, I had story tapes of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit and I loved those too. After a big dinosaur phase, dragons were my new favourite thing. I had a poster of Smaug on my bedroom wall and a clay model made by an artist friend of my Mum’s. My favourite soft toys were named ‘Thorin Oakenshield’, ‘Frodo’ and (as I began to show a tendency for making up my own fantasyesque names) ‘Bromavayde’ and ‘Medge’.
I started writing my first ‘proper’ book when I was thirteen. As much of a cliché as it is, it was based on a dream I had. The dream itself didn’t make much sense, but it felt very real. When I woke up I couldn’t stop thinking about how I could make it work as a story. I typed bits up and drew maps. My brother helped me think of names for the different places, and I decided to call my empire Eslaya. This version of Eslaya was very different from its current incarnation, and that first novel was never finished, but it lead on to many more ideas.
After that I became a serial not-finisher for the next five years. I was good at getting excited about new ideas, but after the plot notes were written down, the characters sketched and the first few chapters started there was always a new idea to work on instead. There were a few I went back to over and over again, and the story that became the foundation for Threads of Deceit was one of them.
At the same time I was a member of an online writing group. This started off as an RPG but, as we got to know each other (and each other’s characters) better, it became a sort of sprawling, ongoing story. We experimented with different styles and drew inspiration from whatever books we were enjoying at the time, including Harry Potter, His Dark Materials and the Discworld books. This kept me writing regularly, and taught me a lot.
During my English A-level I was lucky enough to have had a very supportive tutor. Her son (Stephan Collishaw) had just had his first novel (The Last Girl) published and she was both complimentary of my writing and happy to explain about literary agents and talk about publishing in general. She took me seriously as a writer, despite my age, and that was a big boost for my writing confidence.
I chose the University of Lincoln because, at the time, it was the only local(ish) university that offered creative writing modules as part of its undergraduate English degree. It was while I was at university that I finished the first draft of the novel that would grow into Threads of Deceit.
After my BA I did an MA in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. Here I learned a lot of hints and tips on how to polish my prose and distrust adverbs. I also met my husband, which was an unexpected bonus! Doing the MA put me in touch with a fantastic group of fellow writers, and some of us still meet up for a fortnightly writers workshop. Whilst at Trent I was tutored by novelists David Belbin and Graham Joyce, who were both very supportive and helped in my quest to find a literary agent. Graham suggested that I send my novel to the John Jarrold Literary Agency, which was where I found representation.