Wednesday, April 28, 2021


It's publication day for And Then She Ran my second psychological thriller, described as a cat-and-mouse story as the main character Grace flees America with her baby, but suspects she's being followed.

I've always enjoyed the cat-and-mouse plot element in fiction, the pursuit, near capture and flight, the near misses and showdown, the psychological dance between characters that keeps me on the edge of my seat. I've read and watched many stories on this theme over the years and have picked out a few of my favourites.

1.  Madam Will You Talk by Mary Stewart

A classic cat-and-mouse tale set in the south of France where a war widow becomes involved with a gang of murderers and a plot to kidnap a young boy and has to figure out who the villains are. Plenty of twists and turns in a story that stands the test of time.

2. The Split by Sharon Bolton

One of the best books I read last year, described as 'a chilling, pulse-racing, emotionally charged thriller about a woman on the run, a deadly cat-and-mouse game at the edge of the world' which I agree wholeheartedly with. Gripping stuff.

3. The Serpent BBC

The true story of the so-called 'hippie-trail killer' Charles Sobhraj, accused of murdering Western tourists in the seventies who plays a long cat-and-mouse game with the police over many years. Great performances - and outfits.

4. YOU Netflix

A stalker/serial-killer series adapted from Caroline Kepnes' novel of the same name, with an oddly charming and likeable protagonist in bookshop owner, Joe (despite him being a stalker/serial killer.)

5. Strangers on a Train 1951

The Alfred Hitchcock film, based on the book by Patricia Highsmith, is a classic cat-and-mouse tale and one of my favourites - a chance meeting between two men on a train, speculating what it would be like to commit the perfect murder, with a private investigator on their case. A brilliantly constructed story.

6. Unsane 2018

A film starring Claire Foy as a woman who tries to join a support group after being pursued by a stalker and finds herself trapped in a psychiatric hospital. It's shot on iPhone, adding to the unsettling atmosphere of being stuck in your worst nightmare fighting to be believed. It veered a little too close to horror at times - I'm a coward - but well worth a watch if you're braver than me.

Published at HQ Stories 28/4/21

Monday, April 5, 2021

Another day, another book.

The end of March saw the digital release of The Perfect Nanny, the second thriller by me and the lovely Amanda Brittany. The paperback and audiobook will be out in May.



In the meantime, I've completed edits for my second thriller And Then She Ran, and the proof copy has been receiving lovely reviews on NetGalley. It's a little bit odd to know the words I've written are being read by strangers, but a massive relief that they don't hate them all.

Now, I'm pressing on with my next book, provisionally titled Her Sister's Child as I like to have a title while I'm writing, even though it will undoubtedly change before publication. My deadline is May 5th and I'm nowhere near finished (as usual) but hoping now I'm getting to know my characters that the words will keep flowing.


I don't know how it's April already, it's been exceptionally cold with a flurry of snow this morning, but things are blooming in the garden and I've been out hedge-cutting and chatting to a friendly robin. I tend not to notice anything about the garden during winter, then one day, when the wind is in the right direction, I zone in, cut the grass, replant the flower pots and declare that summer has arrived (even if it's snowing.)


It's good exercise, considering I've eaten my own body weight in Easter eggs over the weekend. Sadly, sitting about writing doesn't burn many calories though at the rate I'm going, I'll be writing so many words a day for the rest of the month, I'll be a shadow of my former self when I've finished.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Midwinter

The 'bleak midwinter' seems a fitting description of the weather right now - below freezing, snow and ice on the ground, a bitter chill in the air; bare branches etched against a bone-white sky. And we're in lockdown again, albeit with the promise of better things to come in the shape of a vaccine. 

I'm thankful to be in the business of writing, something I can do anywhere though the mindset isn't always right during the current circumstances. Walking helps with that, even when it's snowing - especially if it's sunny at the same time.


A bright spot this month was seeing the cover for my and Amanda Brittany's second thriller THE PERFECT NANNY, due out on March 31st. It's been receiving good comments on NetGalley, where new books go to be reviewed before release.



Hearing what readers think - and that they're enjoying our book - brings home how much we love telling stories, which are needed more than ever at the moment. I'm reading far more than I usually do (and I read a lot!) but I've put that aside, for now, to work on the edits for my next psychological thriller - title and cover to be revealed soon - which will be out in April. I'm hoping by then, the sun will be shining and life will be returning to some kind of normality. 

In the meantime, I feel lucky that my loved ones are safe and well and I hope you and yours are too.

Ooh, and here a few of the books I've enjoyed, if you're looking for recommendations: 




Thursday, December 31, 2020

What a Year



What a year it's been, and a very different Christmas and New Year's Eve to finish it off. Much quieter than normal, we managed to have a lovely, relaxing time and I'm grateful we've made it this far and stayed healthy, though there have been low moments during the year and not all related to the pandemic!

As ever, writing and reading - the world of words - has been a great solace and a welcome distraction. I'm proud (and amazed) that in spite of everything, I managed to write a whole novel - due out in April 2021 - as well as one with my fellow writer and friend, Amanda Brittany, which will be published in February. We're excited to see the cover early in the New Year.

I'm thrilled that my editor would like to continue working with me, so hopefully, there will be two more thrillers next year and I'm excited to start working on the first, provisionally titled My Sister's Child. (Titles always change, so I won't get too attached to it!)

2020 may not have resulted in the happy ending we were hoping for, but there's still a lot to be thankful for and I'm heading into the New Year with that thought in mind and hoping that wherever you are, whatever you're doing, 2021 will be kind to you and yours.      


Switching Genre

Rom-com to thrillers



Switching from writing romantic comedy to psychological suspense has been a challenge I’ve enjoyed rising to. It's a genre I’ve loved reading for years, having long had a fascination for what makes people tick and do the things they do, which led to me studying psychology as a mature student.

I started writing a thriller years ago, before diverting to comedy and knew I would drift back it one day. All my romcoms have a mystery running through them and a little twist at the end, and after co-writing a thriller with a writing friend last year I knew it was time to make the leap for my next solo project.

In romantic comedy some topics are off-limits and while I loved reaching for the humour, hoping to make my readers smile and experience a warm glow, I found myself drawn to writing about more complex, grittier issues that wouldn't be possible in a romance. I love creating tension in the lives of ordinary people, exploring the emotional aspects of relationships after a dramatic event and that works well in both genres, but with suspense, there’s the scope to dig deeper and go darker with the story.

Writing suspense is more technical in some ways, it's not such a straightforward journey with a neatly tied up ending. There are red herrings and clues and dead ends that must make sense and build to a believable and satisfying twist for the reader, while remaining true to the characters, and I hope I've created some genuine surprises during Beth's story in Your Life for Mine.

My search history has certainly been different than when I was researching the backgrounds for my rom-com characters, from ‘what does owning a bakery involve?’ and ‘what do events managers do all day?’ to ‘what is gaslighting?’ and ‘what is secondary drowning?’ and 'how long would someone have to be underwater to drown?' I had to explain to my husband that I wasn't planning to bump him off.

Unlike in previous books, I found writing the ending first – the twist – helped keep me racing towards that point and the ideas flowed as I wrote. Consequently, Your Life for Mine is the fastest I’ve ever written a book and I’m looking forward to continuing my journey into the dark side. 

First published at HQ Stories

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Publication



Finally, my debut psychological thriller YOUR LIFE FOR MINE is out in the world! At least, the ebook version is available to download now, the paperback and audiobook will follow on December 10th.

To celebrate publication - apart from eating cake (obviously) - I've been talking about writing over on The Bandwagon with bestselling author Vikki Patis and enjoying reading different author responses to her questions. I love to hear how other writers work, what advice they'd give and their inspiration/motivation techniques and I'm in awe of anyone who manages to plot their entire book and stick to it!

It's been a damp October so far and I'm rapidly losing interest in the garden, which has become home to a sea of mushrooms all over the lawn, crowding out the plants, but's it's a good excuse - after spending so much time out there over the summer - to get my head down and carry on writing!


Shall I mention that it's not long until Christmas now? 

Maybe not ...



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Cover reveal from my office.




It's always thrilling for an author to see their book cover for the first time. We don't get much input and have to trust the publisher and marketing team know what works, but I've loved them all so far. It was particularly exciting this time as Your Life for Mine is my debut psychological suspense novel - out on October 14th - with a new publisher, but I wasn't disappointed. It perfectly sums up the story and the colours and image are striking, so I couldn't be happier.

Even more nerve-wracking, my book is now on NetGalley where bloggers and reviewers get to read an unproofed copy before publication, so I'll be anxiously chewing my nails, hoping they like it, don't guess the twist (too soon) and don't tell me I should have stuck to writing romantic comedy. Obviously, it won't be everyone's cup of tea, and readers who enjoyed my previous series' may not want to read it, but that's part of the process of switching genre. Maybe I'll win some new fans (a writer can only hope.)

In the meantime, as family continue to work from home and I'm on a deadline for my next book, and expecting edits back next week for my second psychological thriller with Amanda Brittany, I decided it was time to look for somewhere I could work where I wouldn't be disturbed, or sabotage myself by doing housework or popping into the garden every five minutes, and am now proudly renting a tiny office space. 

By tiny, there isn't a window and it's a good job I don't have a cat as there wouldn't be room to swing one, should I wish to (which of course I don't.) It's all I can afford, but I love it, and already feel more productive as there's nothing to focus on but writing - and popping to the kitchen to make cups of tea as necessary (fairly often.) I'm giving myself a forty-minute lunch break, as there are nice gardens nearby where I can sit in and eat a sandwich and think about my book and to take a walk (to think about my book) and so far it's working well. Mind you, it's only day 3 . . .

Talking of the lovely Amanda Brittany, we managed a meet-up a few weeks ago, at a garden centre cafe near her home town, and it was lovely to chat in person, discuss our book and eat cake. And the sun shone too. 


Our first book The Secret Sister is in The Works now and it was lovely to see it on a shelf, in good company.

Still strange times at the moment, with talk of bubbles and masks and shielding, and hard to believe we're into September already, but as always, writing is a great escape and I hope to carry on - once I've watered my plants (the ones in my office, not the garden.)

Hope you're all keeping well.

It's publication day for And Then She Ran  my second psychological thriller, described as a cat-and-mouse story as the main character Gr...