I recently read my first book by this author, here is my book review;
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first book that I have read by the author, a romance which also deals with adoption, broken marriages and teenagers. The book is set in Sheffield and Los Angeles, mixing up the cultures and different life styles of the characters. There is a lot of anger and strong emotions throughout the book for several of the characters and I particularly wanted to throttle Catherine at times. Catherine has a hard time dealing with many issues in her life and consequently hides from decision making or acts rashly then regrets it afterwards. I’m glad she saw sense in the very end.
Now let’s find out more about our guest;
1) Where is your home town?
My home town is Sheffield in the UK, which is where Don’t Look Back is partly set. I left Sheffield to go to university in 1980 and didn’t move back until I was in my 40s. It’s a nice place to live because, although it’s the UKs fourth largest city, it doesn’t really have that big city feel. It’s been described as the UK’s largest village which I think sort of captures its essence perfectly.
2) This was the first book that I’d read of yours, how many other books have you written? Are they all romances?
I’ve written seven books in total and they all have an element of romance in them although they might not strictly be classed as romances. Apart from “Don’t Look Back”, I have written another romance called “Family Ties”, which is about a woman whose mother dies and her grief leads her to try and find her birth father whom she’s never met. I’ve written a thriller called “Dare To Lose” which is set in Brighton and is about an ordinary woman who finds herself making a stand against crime when one of her employees goes missing. It’s got a fair sprinkling of romance in it as well because she is thrown together with the missing girl’s father. I’ve also written a series of books called The Georgie Connelly Stories which are light hearted crime capers with lots of fun and romance. Georgie Connelly is a bit of a madcap heroine and she’s great fun to write.
3) What inspires you to write? Is it people you know? Situations you’ve been in or something else?
It’s definitely people who inspire me. I’m an avid people watcher and I’m always making up lives and stories for people. Sometimes I base my stories on people that I know or things that have happened to me but it’s usually exaggerated to such a degree that it becomes unrecognisable. At least I hope so – I’d hate to be sued for libel.
4) Do you carry out research into any of the situations that your characters go through?
I don’t do a lot of research because most of my stories are based around pretty universal issues such as love, grief, family etc which we all understand. For any factual information I tend to rely on good old Google.
5) In “Don’t Look Back” some of your characters visit a psychologist, was that hard to write or did you know how she would get the characters to open up to their deep issues?
Funnily enough, there’s a bit of a story here. I used the idea of a therapist in “Don’t Look back” as a plot device because I had to think of a way to try and break down Catherine and Bill’s barriers. However, it had quite an impact on my life as I became very interested in the idea of it. I have revisited the theme in the novel I am currently working on by making the main character, Maggie, a psychotherapist. I did quite a bit of research on it and ended up applying to study psychotherapy myself. I start my course in September so how’s that for life imitating art? (I’m very impressed! Good Luck with the course)
6) I particularly liked Catherine’s friend Jenny, she was always there for Catherine, yet she stepped in and contacted Bill behind Catherine’s back, was it for self preservation or friendship?
I think Jenny is probably the character most of us can relate to and the friend we would all like to have. She’s been with Catherine every step of the way and seen her make some disastrous choices. She knew that Catherine wasn’t happy and I think intervened out of love for her friend. We’ve all probably been in situations where we’ve agonised over whether we should interfere in our loved ones’ lives for the greater good. In real life, it’s often a disaster when we interfere but I think Jenny did the right thing. Having said that, she has her own family to think about so maybe part of her motivation for wanting to see Catherine and Bill sort out their problems was self preservation.
7) We never met Catherine’s father, was that deliberate? Or could Catherine have put one more ghost to bed if we had?
I was very lucky in that I had settled childhood and a father who was dependable and supportive but I have friends who didn’t have father figures growing up and it’s had a huge impact on their lives. I’ve also worked with young people for a lot of years and seen situations where dads have gone off and had new families, leaving the old family behind. It’s almost like they want a fresh start and in order to do so have to somehow erase their old lives. The children left behind have so many unanswered questions and often end up feeling not good enough and adrift. I thought to have Catherine resolve her issues with her father would have been almost too neat and perfect. In real life, people more often than not, don’t get the answers they need or the sense of closure that Catherine might have had if her father had featured in the novel.
8) One reviewer suggested a sequel for us to see how the characters developed in their new life, have you considered writing that book?
I’d not considered writing a sequel until I read the review suggesting one. I didn’t want to make everything end perfectly because I didn’t think that would be in keeping with the characters. I suspect Catherine and Bill’s relationship is never going to be problem free but I sort of wanted readers to make their own minds up about what their future may be. Maybe I should just write the sequel though – who knows?
9) “Don’t look back”, is a popular title for a book, when I looked it up there were many other books with the same or similar title, how do you choose titles for your books?
In all honesty, I find thinking of titles harder than actually writing the books. I have no idea as I’m writing them what they will be called and tend to refer to them by the name of the lead character. So far a long time “Don’t Look Back” was simply called Catherine. Once they’re finished it’s never easy to come up with ideas and typically I try lots of titles out on friends. They hoot with laughter at my suggestions and the one that gets the least ridicule heaped on it is usually the one that sticks.
10) Are you writing anything at the moment for your fans?
I’m writing a novel about a woman whose sister goes missing. She’s a psychotherapist and she retraces her sister’s footsteps, so to speak, in the hope of finding her. It’s a thriller with lots of romance in there as well. My friend reads my novels as I write them, acting as my proof-reader, and she claims to have fallen in love with the leading man, who is a private investigator hired by Maggie to find her sister.
Brilliant! thank you so much for being my guest today, good luck with the new book, we look forward to reading it when it comes out.