Huge congratulations on winning your Chill Award! You must be so happy that your work has been recognised in this way. Now, before we carry on, would you please introduce yourself to my readers, just in case they don’t know you already …
I’ve dissected human bodies in Sheffield, shushed library-users in Wigan, shared poetry in Liverpool, organised bed baths in Salford. Now I help folk connect with their creativity through writing. I try to live to write, and write to live. My first novel, psychological suspense Rowan’s Well, has just won a Chill With A Book Readers’ Award and been shortlisted in the Words With Jam First Page Competition … all in the same week! It’s garnering fabulous 5 star reviews, so I’m very pleased with it. My yet-to-be-published psychological suspense Fitful Head, a contemporary ghost story, recently won second prize in Liverpool Writing On The Wall Festival’s Pulp Idol contest and came eleventh out of 3,112 international entries to the UK-NWC competition this year. I have a degree in Literature and Philosophy, I’m mother to two adults, wife to one and slave to two tiny dogs.
So, your book has been awarded with a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, what inspired you to write this story?
I was sitting on a beach in North Yorkshire, all alone except for a young man walking with a toddler. There was a jetty and I had a ‘what if?’ moment. The entire novel sprang from that moment.
What does the award mean to you?
I’m thrilled that Rowan’s Well has been recognised. My upcoming novel Fitful Head has already been shortlisted in two competitions so it’s lovely for Rowan’s Well to get attention too.
What other titles have you published? Tell us a little about them …
Rowan’s Well is my first published novel. It’s a psychological suspense about Mark Strachan who has everything: good looks, beautiful, doting wife, great job, loyal best friend… and a secret flaw that goes to his very core. A deep secret he’ll wreck lives to protect. Mark’s life is about to change. He’s going to commit an act so shocking there’ll be no going back. Unless someone can stop him.
At Rowan’s Well, on North Yorkshire’s rugged cliffs, Mark will force his family, and best friend Will, to face the consequences of loving a man like him. At Rowan’s Well, it’s hard to tell where love ends and hatred begins…
Are you working on a new book? Tell me about that …
Fitful Head is a contemporary ghost story. I’m hoping it’ll be released this autumn and it will be available to pre-order soon, so do look out for it. Imagine you lose your mind…and something’s waiting to take its place. Isobel Hickey thinks she’s haunted by her dead husband. But she’s wrong.
When not writing, what can you be found doing?
I recently gave up a well-paid job I adored to concentrate on writing full-time. As well as my own writing, I edit and beta-read for writing friends, and I run creative writing courses. I specialise in helping people get in touch with their creativity through writing. And I love it.
Oh, and I walk my two demanding little dogs, a lot. Hark, there’s one barking for my attention as I write this.
Which three authors have most influenced your journey to becoming an author?
Gosh, that’s a tough one. Every author I’ve ever read has influenced and inspired me in some way. In terms of writing style, I think Iain Banks is where I aspire to be. I loved The Crow Road, especially. Stephen King is a great love of mine for his storytelling and his writing journey. Who can fail to be inspired by him? I was inspired to write my new ghost story after reading The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, my current favourite author. In that book, she creates a whole new spin on the ghost story, and I wondered if I could write a story with all the Victorian ghost story tropes but set here and now.
Why did you choose the genre you write in?
I’m writing a ghost story because I love to read them, particularly Victorian ghost stories. My award-winning novel Rowan’s Well is a psychological suspense, but to be honest, I didn’t know that when I was writing it. I simply write the story I want to tell and worry about genre later. My next book is about Cornish fishermen who run the local lifeboat, and tragedy strikes. No idea what genre that will end up as.
Which other genre would you chose if you had to change?
I love reading psychological suspense wrapped in literary fiction, Hilary Mantel, Sarah Waters, Iain Banks, Susan Hill, so I guess that’s what I’ll always challenge myself to write.
Quick fire questions …
Twitter or Facebook?
Facebook. I like a natter
Tea or coffee?
Neither. Hot water or wine, please
Marmite – yes or no?
Yes, yes, yes!
Marvel or DC?
Marvel but based only on my knowledge of the films
Early riser or sleep in?
Early riser. Get headaches and itchy feet if I sleep in. Plus the aforementioned dogs don’t believe in sleeping in
Pj’s or ‘normal’ clothes when writing?
Up and dressed. Any other way, madness lies … for me, at least.
Planner or pantster?
Bit of both
Book or kindle?
Prefer a paperback but I use my Kindle plenty. It’s so versatile, and all those books in my hand. What’s not to love?
Pineapple on pizza – yes or no?
If you’re offering
And finally … What is your favourite book of all time?
Gosh, leave the hardest until last. So many favourites for so many reasons. Possibly A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving? I almost threw the book across the room when I realised what was about to happen at the end. Unbearably sad. But ask me tomorrow and my answer would probably be different.
Thank you for joining me today and many congratulations again on your Chill with A Book Award!
You can keep up with all CJ’s news and book information by following her social media accounts!
Are you an indie author? Pop over to the Chill With A Book website to find out more their awards!
Here’s the blurb …
Who’s the one person you’d trust with your life? Think again.
Mark Strachan has everything: good looks, beautiful, doting wife, great job, loyal best friend… and a secret flaw that goes to his very core. A deep secret he’ll wreck lives to protect.
Mark’s life is about to change. He’s going to commit an act so shocking there’ll be no going back. Unless someone can stop him.
At Rowan’s Well, on North Yorkshire’s rugged cliffs, Mark will force his family, and best friend Will, to face the consequences of loving a man like him.
At Rowan’s Well, it’s hard to tell where love ends and hatred begins…