1. ‘The Definition of Us’ has a very real-life feel, why did you decide to write about mental health issues?
Lots of reasons but I guess mainly because of my own experiences as a teenager with an anxiety disorder. I found it very isolating and wish I’d talked about it sooner. Seeing my own children become teenagers and the added pressures they face from modern life I thought it was important to start a conversation about mental health. In the book I show teenagers with mental health and neurological conditions, not at a point of crisis but learning to live with and deal with them. I wanted to say that it is possible and that there is help and hope out there.
2. Your books have been published all over the world, where would you most like to visit and why?
Good question! I haven’t travelled a lot beyond Europe and would love to explore further afield. I’m drawn to places that have a culture of outdoor living so I’d love to trek around New Zealand. Having watched Vikings recently I’m also keen to visit Norway, the scenery looks incredible!
3. Did you ever think you would be a published author? What did it feel like when you first saw your book on a shops bookshelf?
I always wanted to write but never thought I’d be any good at it. I still find it hard to believe that I’m lucky enough to have found an outlet for my writing. I remember going to a supermarket and seeing my first book, Nine Months on the shelf. I stood and watched people picking it up, reading the cover and putting it back until someone actually put it in their basket. It was amazing, surreal and so exciting. I wanted to hug her, but that would have just been weird! It’s still just as exciting now and I love hearing from readers from all over the world who’ve found my book when there are so many books out there!
4. Who would you say ‘The Definition of Us’ is aimed at in particular?
I’d like it to be for everyone and anyone but my aim was really to reach out to anyone who felt like I did as a teenager and remind them that they’re so much more than a diagnosis or a disorder.
5. Do you plan on writing anymore novels?
Yes, absolutely. I am terrible at sticking to a routine and I have a day job I love which takes up a lot of headspace, so I don’t think I’ll ever be the kind of writer who can produce a book a year. I’ve got a story I’m playing around with at the moment. I’m fleshing out the characters until they start to feel real and that’s when the story will start to tell itself.
6. If you could give one piece of advice to a young writer what would it be?
If you love books, read a lot and keep writing, but you’re not sure you’re any good, then you’re doing everything right! Doubting yourself helps you strive to do better and keeps you open to learning and developing. Even the very best writers will have moments when they wonder if their writing is any good and when it doesn’t come easily. Keep going. The moments when it comes together and starts to flow are totally worth it!