30 August 2017

I didn’t start writing until I was in my mid-forties. I don’t regret that for a moment. I believe there is a right time for everything and suddenly, without much warning, I had a hankering to write a novel. And so it began. Now I can't imagine not writing; my working life has changed beyond recognition. I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy creating new worlds and the characters who inhabit them. And that’s not the only good thing; here are the top five other things I love about being a writer:

1. The writing community

What a friendly and supportive bunch! The publishers, booksellers, bloggers, readers and particularly other writers make this job very special. Although publishing is a highly competitive industry, there is genuine excitement for other people’s achievements and, when times are hard, as a community, we rally round and help each other through. I have made many new friends in the last few years and feel like I have found my tribe.

2. New books

Never a day goes by when I don’t read. In fact, I can't go to sleep without reading at least a few pages of a book. Now I am sent brand-new books every week, often before they are published. Hearing the thud of a book through my letterbox is such a joy. Our village postman, Pete, is understandably less enthusiastic about it.

3. Seeing your books on library shelves

Perusing a shelf of books either in a bookshop or a library and feeling the thrill of seeing my books alongside other authors’ never gets old. I can’t ever pass my local library without sneaking in to see if my books are there or out on loan. This week I popped into my local WHSmith and found six of my titles squeezed in between a Melvyn Bragg and a Carys Bray. The temptation to tap the nearest shopper on the arm and tell them that I wrote those books was huge.

4. Having a license to be nosy

Research is a vital part of creating a believable world. I love the fact that I can ring someone up, explain that I am writing a book on a subject which they know something about, and ask if I can have a look around their business. Stately homes, farms, cookery schools… you name it, I've been for a look around. Most recently, I've been researching the world of a sheep farmer. I've been invited back in lambing season and I’m hoping I might even get to deliver a lamb myself.

5. Meeting readers

Writing is largely a solitary pursuit, and one that is plagued with self-doubt. So it’s hardly any wonder that I enjoy reader events so much. Getting positive feedback from people who have enjoyed my books gives me a real boost. Sometimes readers tell me how much they related to a storyline, or they say how my books have got them back into reading again. I've even had one lady tell me that she was taking Italian classes after reading the ‘carpe diem’ story in White Lies and Wishes.

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