Questions & Answers
Did you always want to be an author? If not, what did you originally want to be and when and why did you change your mind?
God, no! I wanted to be an Olympic skier when I was a kid. Later, as a teenager, I was hugely into drama and wanted to act professionally. I had lead roles in most school productions, playing everything from Lady Bracknell to Oliver Twist to Macbeth. (All-girls schools you see, so male parts were up for grabs as well.) I would have liked to have done more drama at Cambridge, but by then I had a ten-month-old baby to bring up on my own as well as studying for my degree, and there just wasn’t time for anything else. I still think I might like to take up acting again one day though.
The writing came about almost accidentally, in my late 20s. I had given up a very high-powered, high-stress career in the City and taken a year out to be with my daughter and relax. After about nine months I was going faintly stir-crazy living down in the country baking cakes and decided I needed to do something creative, that would hopefully earn me a bit of money as well. I wrote a couple of articles, just funny, lightweight, lifestyle-y pieces and sent them off to a bunch of newspapers. Amazingly, The Sunday Times ended up buying them straight away, and soon I was writing regularly for them, eventually branching out into the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard too as a freelancer.
After a while, my sister suggested that I should try to write a novel. I thought it would be fun to have a go but didn’t really knuckle down to it until my agent and good friend from Cambridge, Tiff Loehnis, pushed me to write a detailed synopsis and submit it. After that, the idea for Adored took shape pretty quickly. I was excited about it and gave up writing journalism almost completely for eight months while I finished the book.
Also: when I was ten, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book about a character called ‘Monty Muckworm’, an imaginary worm who wore a monocle that my sister and I used to blame whenever our room got in a mess! The book was called Monty Muck – A Worm of Pluck. My mother probably still has it somewhere.