Most writers, when asked what the most important thing to do is, if you want to be a writer, will say read. It’s a cliché for a reason.
As a child, I wasn’t much of a writer, but I was an avid reader. I loved the way the real world melted away when you picked up a book and were transported into its pages. I read for escapism, enjoyment, and the delights of the imagination, but I don’t think I ever imagined that one day I might become an author too.
English was my favourite subject at school, partly due to excellent, inspiring teachers, and I went on to study English with Creative Writing at University. I couldn’t believe you got to write stories as part of your degree. And they gave you the space to be as experimental as you wanted to be. Once I graduated, I used my passion for reading and writing in my ‘real’ job, working in a bookshop and then in the publishing industry for a number of years.
During this time, I continued to dabble in writing. I wrote short stories, a playscript and a number of pieces of children’s fiction but it wasn’t until my early thirties, that I found the right story for me, and once that idea fell into place, the voice of the main character, Jake, in my first novel The Mystery of the Missing Mum appeared, and I had to write his story down. For my latest novel City of Horses, I combined inspiration from what was happening in the world around me with my love of horses to create the story of Misty, a thirteen-year-old girl who has to leave her home when her dad loses his job and create a new life on a council estate in another part of town.
So, my main piece of advice, if you want to write, read. Read for pleasure. Find the stories that make your heart sing and your head spin in wonder. Slowly, you’ll begin to discover what it is about those stories that appeals to you most. And what a magical feeling that is. It could be characters that you are drawn to or exciting, action-packed plotlines or vividly depicted settings that take you into another world entirely. Find those books that you feel were written especially for you, that speak to you directly, and the rest will follow when the time is right…