Tell me what inspired you to write about your latest book?
The very simple answer is – death row. I’ve always found the idea of it fascinating and intriguing. What do people feel while they’re on death row? What do they think? Are they angry? Do they feel guilty? Do they think they’ll get off? So many questions about it. And I’ve wanted to write something about it for a long time. The bigger question was how. I wanted it to be about a teenager, but there are no teenagers on death row. And we don’t have death row in this country, but I didn’t want to set it in the US. All these things eventually rolled in to what Cell 7 became.

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Do you try and read the online reviews you get on say waterstones website?
I do read reviews and I’m always so appreciative that readers take the time to write one – it really does mean an awful lot.

Is there anything you wouldn’t write about?
I’m very open to what can be written about in YA and I think the majority of the time it’s about how something is done rather than if it should be. Difficult subjects need to be treated with care and respect.

I don’t agree though, with something being included for the sake of including it – it should be there to serve the story – so if, for example, a character is going to be beaten up or attacked, it needs to be there from a narrative point of view rather than just for a bit of blood and gore.

How hard do you find it to keep within an age category?
It’s not something I really think about when I’m writing. It’s at the back of my mind, I suppose, but I never consciously think ‘oh, I must keep this for YA or teen’. I did pause over the bad language in Cell 7, but that’s how people and teens speak, and I didn’t want to sanitise it.

What did you do before becoming a writer?
I was a BookStart Co-ordinator for Booktrust, promoting literacy and libraries for pre-school children. It was a great job and I got to know some fabulous people and families. Unfortunately, the funding was taken away, but that did co-incide with me getting my first publishing deal

Which author inspires you?
Oh, lots, and for different reasons, though a lot of the time for trying something different. At the minute I’m reading Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff which has first person sections, reports, interviews etc, and as reader, you piece it all together, and I’m a little in awe of it for being so brave.  Mal Peet’s Life: An Exploded Diagram has three very distinct sections, and I find that inspiring for daring to be different too. Both of these work from a story point of view, so it doesn’t feel like they’re done that way just for the sake of being different, rather because it works for that particular story.

Which genres do you read yourself?
I don’t really stick with one genre – I read quite widely, and I don’t think there’s any genre I wouldn’t read, or haven’t read. I’m not a particularly loyal reader – I don’t tend to be faithful to one particular author, instead tending to go for the story instead.

What is your biggest motivator?
Oh, tricky. Other writers being fabulous and always striving to try and equal them. The fear of failure. And cake.

What will always distract you?
The internet and my dog, Astrid! She lies at my feet while I’m working but constantly demands strokes and attention.

How much say do you have in your book covers?
The cover for Cell 7 has steady process from the original ideas to the final version, and it’s been great to have been consulted and shown these as it’s gone along. Book covers are such important things and often really great pieces of art, and I don’t think I could ever come up with anything as good as the actual designers and I take my hat off to them.

As a child were you a great reader?
I was a member of the Puffin Club and I used to get quarterly (I think it was quarterly) magazines and I had a brilliant Puffin badge, that unfortunately I’ve lost now.  It was always so exciting to get the post from them – I remember my mum bringing it up to me while I was still in bed.  As a very young child we used to walk about a mile from our house into the local village and my mum would buy us a Ladybird book.  Later I particularly remember reading Emil and His Clever Pig, by Astrid Lindgren, The Famous Five Books, Haffertee Hamster Diamond, by Janet Perkins and The Swish of the Curtain, by Pamela Brown. Then as a teenager I read George Orwell, Stephen King, the Dollanger Series (Flowers in the Attic, etc), by VC Andrews, classic science fiction, lots of John Wyndham – all sorts.

Which book shop is your favourite?
I don’t really have a favourite bookshop – they’re a just too many to choose from – but there’s a village near us called Horncastle which has loads of second-hand bookshops which are just a delight to browse around and undercover all kinds of things!

What can you not resist buying?
Well, I’ve had to be really strict with myself with books lately because there are so many on my tbr pile, but usually books. And cheesecake.

Do you have any rituals on your writing days?
My day always starts with walking the dogs, because if I don’t then I don’t get any peace. It’s nice because it clears my head too.  Then it’s often a quick bit of washing in the machine, dishwasher emptied…before sitting down to work.

How many books in your own to be read pile?
Oh gosh…there’s…Red Sky in the Morning (Elizabeth Laird), Look Who’s Back (Timur Vermes), Birdy (Jess Valance), Way Down Deep (JP Smythe), The Big Lie (Julie Mayhew) and Lockdown (Alexander Gordon Smith). *vows to not buy anymore…*

What is your current read?
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – loving it.

DoL cover   ABF cover

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