Tell me what inspired you to write your two books?
I wrote Six Stories as an experiment more than anything. I had been listening to the Serial podcast at the height of its popularity and wondered if a book written in this format would work. I had no idea if it was any good and shelved it almost immediately. I am constantly surprised that people enjoy it! Hydra was different, I had made up my mind there wouldn’t be another ‘Six Stories’ but I was listening to another true crime podcast and inspiration struck…there was no escaping it!

How hard was it to get your first book published?
I never even tried to get Six Stories published. I only entered it to the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland on a whim…I thought I’d be laughed off the stage to be honest…I didn’t believe Karen Sullivan from Orenda when she approached me afterward and asked for the manuscript. The only place I had entered it before was a competition for a prestigious literary agency. It got nowhere!

How many publishers turned you down?
Orenda were the first to show interest in Six Stories but as for my horror work before then, I’ve lost count. Let’s just say all of them!

Do you try and read the online reviews you get on say waterstones website?
At first, yes, but I’ve had to stop as every bad review crushes me a little bit inside, despite my constant pretense that it doesn’t. I think it’s easy to get caught up in all that. Everyone’s entitled to like or not like your work..

Would you ever consider writing for teens or children?
I’d really like to write a good YA novel and have made a few starts. For me, it’s a much harder craft. My sister and I wrote a very surreal book for my son when he was a baby called ‘Harry and the Leaf Men’.

What did you do before becoming a writer?
I was an English teacher for permanently excluded teenagers in the PRU system.

Which author inspires you?
There are so many and there can be so much fluctuation as I discover new works but I’ll name a few who have always and will always influence me: Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, Niall Griffiths, Patrick McCabe.

Which genres do you read yourself?
I’m not too picky when it comes to genre, so long as the book is written well. My favourites are probably horror and true crime.

What is your biggest motivator?
Reading good books always makes me strive to write and write better.

What will always distract you?
Tidying the house…it is never off my mind. Or the cat, when she’s hungry.

How much say do you have in your book covers?
I get presented with a few options but it’s always a team decision, which I like.

As a child were you a great reader?
It was pretty much all I cared for as a child.

Which book shop is your favourite?
Forum Books in Corbridge is a wonderful and magical place, they’ve been such great supporters of my work too.

What can you not resist buying?
Hard Backs. I found an illustrated first edition of Watership Down in a charity shop not long ago. It is a thing of beauty.

Do you have any rituals on your writing days?
I have to start at 9am and write at least 2000 words before I can be satisfied.

How many books in your own to be read pile?
I have a TBR cabinet next to my bed. It is never empty!

What is your current read?
I just finished ‘Devil’s Day by Andrew Michael Hurley and I am now on ‘Strange Weather’ by Joe Hill. I am now in awe of both these authors.

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