What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.
“The Hand He Dealt” is my debut novel and is set on a US college campus. Astra Scott is a student and casino intern whose relationship with her boyfriend Harry is turned upside down when he confesses he might be gay. Rather than break up with him, Astra decides to experiment with sex toys in an attempt to keep him satisfied – a decision that changes not only her relationship with Harry but also that of her best friend Sasha and boyfriend Ash.
Tell us something about yourself.
I live in Yorkshire with my husband and cat. In my spare time I like to try as many new experiences as possible – I used to skydive and am looking into paragliding. One of my main ambitions is to take a driving tour of America, preferably in a classic pink Cadillac Eldorado.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had been working casually on it for three years when I realised I was turning thirty and now might be a good time to get it finished. Before that, it was simply that I had several story plans written down and this was the one that grabbed me.
How did you choose the title?
After going through several titles, I took the casino theme and remembered the phrase “playing the hand you’re dealt”. As Harry was the catalyst for the story, this then became “playing the hand he dealt” – and voila!
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
I initially sent it for critique to the Romantic Novelists’ Association under the New Writers’ Scheme and made several changes following their response. At first I was pitching it as women’s fiction, which led to a lot of rejections before I decided to try the erotic romance market; three months and five rejections later I was accepted by Total-e-Bound, and still can’t quite believe it!
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I can’t actually remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I had been writing on an amateur level for years before I began a creative writing course, which put me in touch with the Romantic Novelists’ Association and inspired me to begin my first novel for public viewing.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Not exactly, but I do need to multitask or nothing will get done. I always have to go online for a few minutes and leave some pages open to click back to between paragraphs, otherwise my brain will get stuck and I will end up staring at a blank page.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Sometimes their personality will suggest a name, but often I will go through several before I choose one. If the name isn’t right, I can’t write that character.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
That I can do it! Writing has always been a release for me, a chance to let my imagination run riot, but being a published novelist is the best feeling in the world.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have bitten the bullet and started writing sooner. I would also have listened to that little voice that told me which parts of the book weren’t working, which would have saved me a rewrite.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I love historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance, particularly erotica and paranormal. My favourite authors at the moment are probably Philippa Gregory (I love the emotion in her writing), Ann Brashares (for the same reason) and Lisabet Sarai.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I’m currently working on two new erotic romances.
The first, “Photograph”, has a heroine who is extremely controlling when it comes to relationships, both with men and with her family; this is all about to change as she is thrown together on a cruise ship with her twin sister, who she hasn’t spoken to in two years, and an arrogant American named Ryan. The second, “Hyperventilating”, is still in its early stages but is set in the United States and follows two girls who, like me, have a weakness for rock stars.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
As a debut novelist, I’m not sure I’m qualified yet to give advice, but it would probably be “Never give up.” This time last year I never would have believed I would be where I am now.
I would also say “Find your genre.” If I had known sooner how much I would enjoy writing erotica I would have spent less time struggling to fit myself into other niches. I’ve had a lot of raised eyebrows but this is what I love and I will continue to write it.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Someone who enjoys a good romance with a healthy dose of erotica thrown in!
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?